Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Comics Review: "ARCHIE Valentine's Spectacular" Offers Fun Classics and a New Character

ARCHIE VALENTINE'S SPECTACULAR #1 (In-stories and on digital Wed., Feb. 1st)

STORY: Jamie Lee Rotante; Greg Crosby; Craig Boldman; Dan Parent
PENCILS: Holly G!; Pat Kennedy; Rex Lindsey; Dan Parent
INKS: Jim Amash; Jon D'Agostino; Rich Koslowski; Rudy Lapick
COLORS: Glenn Whitmore; Barry Grossman
LETTERS: Jack Morelli; Bill Yoshida
EDITORS: Jamie Lee Rotante; Vincent Lovallo; Stephen Oswald
EiC: Mike Pellerito
COVER: Dan Parent with Rosario “Tito” Peña
32pp, Color, $2.99 U.S. (March 2023)

Rating: All-Ages

“More Than Meets the Eye: Rise of the Sports King!”

Eternal high school student and teenage boy, Archie Andrews, and his friends made their debut in M.L.J. Magazines' Pep Comics #22 (cover dated: December 1941), and before long, Archie was the publisher's headliner character.  In 1946, the company changed its named to Archie Comic Publications, also known as “Archie Comics.”

Archie Comics frequently publishes themed one-shot comic books featuring Archie's characters (sometimes referred to as “the Archie Gang”).  One of them is the Archie Valentine's Spectacular No.1.  It features one new story and four reprint stories.  Entitled “More Than Meets the Eye: Rise of the Sports King!,” the new story stars Archie Comics' newest character, “Cassie Cloud.”  The story is written by Jamie Lee Rotante; drawn by Holly G! (pencils) and Jim Amash (inks); colored by Glenn Whitmore; and lettered by the great Jack Morelli.

Introducing Cassie Cloud in “More Than Meets the Eye: Rise of the Sports King!”:
The story opens at the "Valentine's Spectacular Dance."  The newest student at Riverdale High is Cassie Cloud, who recently transferred from Centerville.  Cassie is tall, confident, funny, and catching all the guys’ attention – much to the chagrin of the girls.  Betty and Veronica notice, however, that Cassie doesn't seem interested in the attention of the most popular boys in school, including Archie and Reggie.  So Ethel and Midge join them for some research into Cassie.

Why is the hot new girl hanging out with the likes of Dilton, Toño, Raj, Randolph, and even Simon a.k.a. “Prankenstein” – all known as nerds?  And do the girls have something to learn from her about learning to love the “short kings?”

THE LOWDOWN:   I have been reading comic books, on and off, for the better part of five decades.  I have sporadically read Archie Comics titles over that time, so I usually miss the publisher's introduction of new characters.  Thus, Cassie Cloud isn't the only character that is new to me in Archie Valentine's Spectacular No. 1.

I think she has a lot of potential, as set up in this nice five-page story that is “More Than Meets the Eye: Rise of the Sports King!”  Cassie is similar to classic Archie female characters like Betty and Veronica, but she is different enough, especially in terms of her interests, to create hopefully exciting new story scenarios across all Archie titles.  Writer Jamie Lee Rotante and artist Holly G! have created a winning story for this character, and hopefully, they will do more.

The rest of Archie Valentine's Spectacular No. 1 is comprised of reprints:  three “Veronica” solo stories and one “Jughead” solo.  One Veronica story, “Valentine's Day Dilemma,” finds Archie struggling to figure out what kind of Valentine's Day gift he could give to the rich girl (Veronica) who already has had a better version of anything he can afford.  In “Sweets to the Sweet,” Jughead is sure that he has the perfect way to scam the girls of Riverdale out of their Valentine's candy.

If you are like me and love classic-style Archie Comics, you will love these stories.  And Archie Valentine's Spectacular is for you.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of classic-style Archie Comics will want to find a copy of Archie Valentine's Spectacular No. 1.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


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