Archie & Friends #152

A comic review article by: Penny Kenny
After losing two eating contests, Jughead goes looking for help from… Sabrina the teenage witch!

It's no secret I loved Tania Del Rio's run on the manga-style version of Sabrina's own title, but I have to say she handles "classic" Sabrina just as well. "All's Fair in Love & Food" reads like an updated version of a '60s or '70s story - which is a compliment in my book. Just compare it to some of the reprints in Betty & Veronica Double Digest #188. You have Sabrina trying to use her magic for good, but her spell goes awry and complications ensue. That's when the fun begins. Especially when the complication here is Jughead falling in love with Sabrina.

The story setup is well-done. Del Rio references previous stories to help establish Jughead's problem and his relationship with Sabrina. It's done in such a way, though, that the casual reader doesn't need to have read those stories to understand what's going on here.

Del Rio uses the inclusive aspect of the Archie-verse to great effect. The team-up between Jughead and Sabrina is entirely believable. Neither one acts out-of-character and an artificial situation didn't have to be created to bring them together.

The dialog is fun. Sabrina and Jughead have some cute give-and-take:

Sabrina: Waitaminute! This is your problem! You're obsessed with food!

Jughead: Your point?

Del Rio also includes pauses within a character's dialog, creating a distinctive, yet natural sounding rhythm.

The rest of the gang also gets some good moments as they react to Jughead's sudden love for Sabrina. Archie is confused. Betty thinks it's sweet. Veronica is weirded out and Raj can't wait to capture it all on film. Though these are only brief scenes, they show Del Rio has a good understanding of the core characteristics and "voice" of the Riverdale cast and they add verisimilitude to the overall story.

Amidst the humor, Del Rio also throws in some commentary on how a solid romantic relationship should develop. It's done with a light touch, but if younger readers could absorb the idea that stalking is creepy, not romantic, and you should respect and like each other first, that alone would make this issue worth picking up.

Bill Galvan, Jim Amash, Jack Morelli, and the Digikore Studio put together a great looking book. In a nice bit of drawing, Galvan and Amash give Jughead a slightly younger appearance than the others. His eyes are wide open much of the time and his distinctive nose is drawn a bit shorter and less sharply angled than usual. This visual representation emphasizes his unusual lack of confidence in himself and the softening effect of love. Galvan and Amash also do a wonderful job of evoking the original "witchy" aspect of Sabrina, while still making her seem friendly. In a close-up of the teen witch on page seven, her eyes are slightly closed and her mouth is lifted in a half-smile. If her eyes were closed a fraction more and the inks a bit heavier, it would be the exact expression she displayed on the cover of the first issue of her own comic book back in 1971.

One of my favorite pages, though, doesn't even feature Jughead and Sabrina. It's a scene showing Betty, Veronica and Archie on a Ferris wheel and commenting on what's going on with Sabrina and Jughead. Galvan keeps changing the angle on the trio, conveying the sense of a clunky car swinging its way upward. The teens' expressions change from panel to panel as they take in what they're seeing. Veronica's is especially speaking as Archie responds to Betty's identification of Sabrina with "Oh yeah…she's cute!"

Mixing the best of the "Old" and "New" Archie, Archie & Friends #152 is an enjoyable issue that mixes magic, mischief, mayhem and heart.

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