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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 228

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the comics posted so far!

Today we look at the storyline “Freshman Year” from Archie #587-591 by Batton Lash, Bill Galvan and Bob Smith…

Enjoy!

Freshman Year tells the story of, well, the Freshman year of Archie and his pals, most notably the four other friends of his who have held their own series….

What is most striking about Freshman Year is just how well Lash structures the tale. He manages to provide a good deal of room for character development while still working out two over-arching plotlines throughout the school year.

His introduction to Riverdale High is quite clever…

I love the timeless nature of Archie running into Weatherbee. Of course, as we learn, this is their FIRST time meeting as student/high school principal…

One of the overarching plots (the other is a bully who torments Archie) involve the superintendent sending a spy into Riverdale High to give him dirt on Weatherbee, who the superintendent has decided is not right for the job. Lash does a great job setting up the various suspects…

and I love Miss Grundy’s reaction to it…

The mystery is a good one – I admit that I was even fooled for a little bit!

Lash introduces a couple of new characters (at least I think they are new) to the series, as he plays up the notion that Riverdale High is obviously a big place, not EVERYTHING revolves around Archie. To highlight this, he gives us Zane Zappen, Archie Andrew’s opposite, having all of his adventures while Archie is having HIS.

The other guy is Pencilneck G, a kid that Archie was friends with at the start of the year. Lash makes G a very interesting character (it is no wonder he gets a spotlight in the sequel).

A fairly minor thing that I liked a lot about this story is that while yes, there are a good deal of nods like “this is the first time we meet ____,” Lash does not mire the story in those details. He lets the story stand on its own…

Galvan and Smith do a good job on the artwork.

Before recently, Archie Comics did not have a lot of longform stories, but now they seem to be going for more and more stories that can be put into trades. This is one of the first ones in this style (not counting the “New Look” ones) and it is also one of their best.

4 Comments

Archie really has been having a resurgence lately, haven’t they? I love how they have been taking all sorts of risks over the past few years– I’ve really enjoyed the experiments with longer form stories(I’ve been a big fan of the ‘new look’ stories, which surprised me). I never thought that a longer form, old school Archie story that did a “Year One” would work for me, but this looks like a winner.

With that, and their ventures in magazine publishing and getting their stuff into toyshops and the like, Archie is proving that you can rework your material for the next generation of kids and not fall into the pitfalls of merely producing retreaded nostalgia for your older fanbase.

Many thanks, Brian! I’m proud that my — as well as Bill, Bob, Glen, Jack, Mike and Victor’s- – work on “Freshman Year” is included in the year of cool comics!

Batton Lash

I prefer longform stories like these with Archie as well. It’s nice to see some things don’t go out of style, even if I’m not reading it.

As I said over on the Sunday Brunch, the NY Times had a piece on Archie’s new business practices in the Sunday Business section. Interesting reading. Someone else posted a link to the piece over there, so check it out.

You know, if a company’s going to have a “house style”, it should be a sweet, clean one like Archie here. Great looking stuff.

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