Perfectly timed for St Valentine’s Day, this new batch of Archie stories focuses on his dating antics.
OK, most Archie books have him dating Betty, Veronica, sometimes even Cheryl and Sabrina, but this special is total romance, with all but one story centring on our hero’s reputation as a modern-day Casanova. In Riverdale, juggling multiple ladies isn’t seen as toxic: the boys admire him, the girls overlook his often caddish behaviour. He’s not perfect, but the kid’s got charm.
And humour. All four stories here are amusing, with several containing really rather good gags. Even when there’s not much going on, the delightfully vibrant art has me grinning.
Love is in the Spare is classic Archie. He’s taking Veronica out on a date when he gets a flat tyre. But all may not be lost as Reggie arrives.
Next, Archie hits the theme of the issue in Love those L.I.P.S., as he’s recruited by Midge to help boyfriend Moose be more romantic.
It’s Reggie who needs a hand in Make it a Double, after he accidentally double books himself. Archie advises next-door restaurants, with him on Bluetooth.
Finally, in The Dating Analysis, school genius Dilton can’t even talk to girls, never mind ask them out. Who ya gonna call?
Oh dear, it turns out Archie isn’t always the smooth operator.
But the team behind this issue certainly know what they’re doing. That’s writers Francis Bonnet and Bill Golliher, pencillers Jeff Schultz and Bill Galvan, inkers Jim Amash, Bob Smith and Ben Galvan, letterer Jack Morelli and colourist Glenn Whitmore. They produce a quartet of pitch perfect short stories which can’t fail to raise the spirits. The dialogue is zippy, the art peppy, the colours pop and the lettering dazzles. While I enjoy the modern takes on classic Archie style, you can’t beat that Dan DeCarlo vibe. Shultz handles three of the four stories and I love that he fills the panels with constantly amused background and foreground players. Galvan, meanwhile, is terrific with physical comedy.
Shultz and Rosario ‘Tito’ Peña provide the cover which, surprisingly, features Fifties Archie; it’s nice, but at odds with the very modern man inside. And the Betty and Veronica insets don’t relate to anything in the comic – did someone use the wrong image?
Will this special make you a master or mistress of dating? I wouldn’t go that far. But it will make you smile. Lots.