A Year of Cool Comics – Day 238
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 SEQUEL, of sorts, to Batton Lash, Bill Galvan and Al Milgrom’s Archie: Freshman Year, with Freshman Years: The Missing Chapters, the sequel that’s not really a sequel that appeared in Archie & Friends #140-144…
You might ask, “Why, Brian, do a feature on a sequel to a work you’ve already featured? If you liked the first one, we get it, you probably liked the sequel.” That’s a fair question, but I think this is worth spotlighting just because of how hard of a storytelling angle this was. Lash told a full, complete story in the original comic, so how do you then come back and do the “missing chapters” without it being hopelessly hokey?
Lash succeeds by using a novel approach for a five-part story – it’s not REALLY a five-part story. What this is is just five separate issues of Archie & Friends, they just all happen to involve, as part of their plot, a character thinking back to his/her freshman year of high school (there’s ostensibly a framing device, but it really doesn’t matter). It works really well and it therefore avoids the whole “if this story was so interesting, why wasn’t it in the first take of the story?” problem.
The first issue details what happened to Jughead during the short period of time his family moved to Montana…
Jughead eventually meets a girl who he feels a lot differently towards than most girls he knows. But in opening himself up to her, he ends up opening her eyes up to the idea of a romance between her longtime male best friend. It’s strong stuff – Lash gets a lot of character development done in one issue.
The next story is probably the best reason to look into the past, as a video Betty and Veronica did in Freshman year pops up on YouTube and becomes a viral sensation…
So naturally, they think back to how they made the video originally.
A character introduced in that issue, George Angle (he is always “working the angle”) is an important aspect of the next issue, which spotlights on Reggie. First we see Reggie as his normal self…
the phone call is to tell Reggie that his father’s paper is hiring someone Reggie used to know…
We flash back to freshman year and see how Angle and other seniors at Riverdale High took advantage of Reggie’s desire to be liked by the “cool kids.” It was cool to see a different side of Reggie.
The next issue is the one most set during the “present,” as it shows Chuck’s past as a comic book artist coming back to perhaps haunt him. After he wins a prize for cartooning…
Chuck learns that a former Riverdale student who has now become a tough guy rapper (60 Cent, wocka wocka) is looking for Chuck because of his habit of making comics about people he met in school. So Chuck, concerned that 60 Cent wants to harm him, goes to different people to ask about comics he made about them in the past to see if he ever offended 60 Cent. The resolution was handled really well.
Finally, the return trip to the past conclude with a spotlight on the “breakout character” of the original Freshman Year, the skater dude, Pencilneck G!
Lash gets good mileage later in the story about the notion of the whole other world of stories going on on the OTHER side of campus, where Pencilneck G and his friends have been hanging out these past few years.
Galvan and Milgrom do a solid job on the artwork.
All told, this was an inventive way to take another look back at the first enjoyable Freshman Year stories, and Lash really got the most out of a concept that could have come off as stretching the initial concept too thin.