Archie 80th Anniversary Jumbo Comics Digest #1 review

Archie Comics are the ultimate palate cleanser for jaded superhero fans. When you’re tired of the grim and gritty, the constant Everything You Thought You Knew Was Wrong stories, the revamped universes, Archie’s pals and gals are always handy with a milkshake and a gag or ten on the latest fads.

And if you’re not tired of events, well, Archie has them too – but they don’t go on for years. Case in point…

DC took 12 issues, some of them double-length, to crash their universes together, Archie does it in 10 pages. Jughead’s occasional publishing persona of Time Policeman is the perfect way into a typically amusing story that sees regular Archie made aware of the Multiverse.

But can he help Jughead save it from destruction at the hands of Evilheart and Mad Doctor Doom?

It’s all good clean fun from writer Bill Golliher, artists Pat and Tim Kennedy, inker Bob Smith, colourist Glenn Whitmore and letterer Jack Morelli, who does a great spin on the classic DC Crisis logo. Maybe next year we’ll get Archie Legends. But please, no Millenium!

This thick digest – 181 pages in my digital edition, 192 in print due, presumably, to ads – also features a mass of quality reprints, organised by decade. Unusually, we start with the most recent tales and work back to the very first Archie appearance, from Pep Comics #22. I’ve read Bob Montana and Vic Bloom’s breezy story previously, but it’s still fascinating to see how far it is from what we think of as Archie – he looks like a real Depression kid, and whatever became of ‘Chick’?

All the stories in here are fun, but standouts include, from the Sixties, the surprisingly meta The Line by Frank Doyle, Harry Lucey and Marty Epp…

… George Gladir and Dan and Vince DeCarlo’a Champ of Camp from the same decade, dig those crazeeeee togs…

…and Samm Schwartz’ Snug as a Bug from the Fifties, which is Riverdale at its comedic best.

Great cartooning never ages and this digest is full of wonderful work by brilliant artists and equally talented writers. I love that in his chapter introductions editor Mike Pellerito provides insight into the creators, their particular ‘thing’. Even a cursory look at this collection disproves the idea that Archie stories are interchangeable in tone and look, and that’s due as much to the people behind them as the times in which they were created.

But don’t go the cursory route – dig in and enjoy a big slice of Archie Americana.

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