Archie Double Digest #223

A comic review article by: Penny Kenny

If Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and an increasing list of holiday chores have drained you of your Christmas spirit already, this issue of Archie Double Digest might be just the thing to perk you up.

Hal Lifson and Bill Galvan start the issue off with "An Old School Yule." As Riverdale suffers from the effects of the recession, the gang works together to make a happy holiday for everyone. Though the dialog is a bit clunky at times, due to Galvan making sure younger readers understand what the overall problem is, this is a sweet and inspiring story. Lifson is obviously a teacher at heart and uses this story as an opportunity to show readers what they can do for others, while making sure the characters are all true to themselves. Veronica's big scene is wonderful. Lifson gives her the perfect song to sing and Galvan and inker Jim Amash give her one of the best "come hither" looks I've seen in a comic.

Sugar Plum the fairy makes an appearance in Kathleen Webb, Jeff Schultz and Henry Scarpelli's "Some Things Never Change." The winged wonder helps Betty and Veronica bring a spirit of Christmas to their latest party. Schultz's art is attractive and he perfectly captures the girls' sneers of boredom.

Sugar Plum's male counterpart Jingles the Elf makes a couple of appearances. I personally enjoy the magic duel between himself and Sabrina the teenage witch in Doyle and DeCarlo's "Power Struggle," though "Season of Magic" by Doyle and White is also rather fun. The mischievous elf pops up in Riverdale to tease his friends, but ends up getting surprised himself.

In the classic "Out on a Limb" by Doyle and Vigoda, Archie breaks the leg of the school's display reindeer and tries to get it fixed before Mr. Weatherbee finds out. In a comic case of confusion that keeps escalating, Weatherbee thinks it's Archie that's broken his leg. I really like these misunderstanding type stories. They offer so many possibilities and Doyle takes advantage of that. The art is clean and sharp looking, with uncluttered panels that allow the reader to focus on the slapstick antics.

George Gladir and Stan Goldberg team up for "The Magic Circle." Archie's attempts to make wreaths and sell them go about as well as you'd expect if you know anything at all about the enthusiastic, but clumsy red-head. There're a lot of fun older pop culture references in this story, besides the traditional slapstick humor. Goldberg draws a good-looking Archie and imbues the panels with a strong sense of energy.

"Run for the Hills" has Mr. Lodge uncharacteristically worried about Archie. The Hartley script has Lodge playing the drama queen role to the hilt and D'Agostino's art is superb. The way he captures body language and expression is fantastic. 

I've only skimmed the surface of this digest. There are appearances by Little Archie, Sabrina's cat Salem, Jughead, and, of course, Santa himself. There are also fashion pages and puzzles. It's a great little package for the price.

Archie Double Digest #223 provides plenty of grins, chuckles, and outright laughs whether you're in the Christmas mood or not. It's a great stocking stuffer or early present for a person of any age. 

For the past 13 years, Penny Kenny has been an elementary library paraprofessional in a rural school district. For the seven years prior to that, she headed a reading-math program designed to help first grade students with learning difficulties. Her book reviews regularly appeared in Starlog from 1993 to the magazine's unfortunate demise in 2009 and she has published several e-novellas under a pen name. She has been a reviewer with Comics Bulletin since 2007.

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