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  • Strangest crossover yet.

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    20 years ago I ignored Archie Meets The Punisher as just plain silly. Back then, I took my Marvel characters as straight and sober as a judge. Recently I've begun to check Archie Comics out, brought on by a casual reading of The Death of Archie issues. Now I'm catching up on all the stuff I missed in the Archie universe over the last 20 years or so (especially the last 5 years), since most of the important stories have been collected in trade paperbacks. Things I missed like the Archie gang meeting President Obama and Sarah Palin, rock group Kiss, and the cast of the TV series Glee; alternate timelines where Archie marries Betty, Veronica, and Valerie (from the Pussycats), Betty and Veronica cast in the lead roles of classic fairy tales, and now (in the regular Archie continuity) getting ready to leave Riverdale on a rotating student exchange program where they'll visit five countries as students in the coming year. The latter story, and the aforementioned "The Married Life" are written by Michael Uslan, who's brought some new levels of interest to the characters.

    Light reading, obviously, but highly enjoyable stuff nonetheless. I'll be getting around to Afterlife With Archie and the Chilling Tales of Sabrina before long.

  • #2
    As I posted elsewhere, Archie is a company that is trying to make a splash, trying things that they would never have tried before. If they succeed, it will make sales for them. The Archie meets the Punisher one-shot specials were a lot of fun! I am not sure stretching out the joke to a multiple issue mini-series in Archie meets the Predator would sustain more than one issue although.

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    • #3
      Basically, the Archie character franchise has been shrinking for years. They used to publish a dozen or so titles based on the "regular" Archie universe (not including the mostly-reprint digests), but now such titles as Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Josie and the Pussycats, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Kevin Keller are all gone. For regular format comics, it's down to just Archie (monthly) and Betty and Veronica (bimonthly). B&V just started on a year-long story where they leave Riverdale to study in 6 other countries as exchange students over the course of a year, and I have my suspicions that if sales don't improve, that story may be the swan song for that title.

      So it's either evolve or die for Archie. Life With Archie magazine ran for about 4 years, telling two alternate universe stories set 5 years in the future of the Riverdale High gang, with one story devoted to Archie married to Veronica, and the other devoted to Archie married to Betty (collectively known as "The Married Life"), but that recently concluded this year with "The Death of Archie" (which is what got me reading Archie). Further mutations of the Archie multiverse first appeared with a variant cover for Life With Archie by Francesco Francavilla, which later spun off into an actual series, Afterlife With Archie. While that went on hiatus after the 6th issue, they introduced what appears to be a companion title set in the same timeline (but earlier), Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I suspect that these were designed to alternate story arcs, with one taking over while the other goes on hiatus for a while, but I worry that it maybe didn't go over as well as AWA, because it's been a few months since the first issue of CAOS shipped and still no 2nd issue in sight. Hey, I just noticed that... maybe they should have titled it Chilling Horror Adventures Of Sabrina, so they could abbreviate it CHAOS . From about 2007 to 2010, they had tried an experiment dubbed "New Look" Archie (using a more realistic art and writing style), that didn't catch on either (it only ran about half-a-dozen story arcs, spaced out in different digests, over a few years). In some ways that "New Look" experiment does seem like a trial run for the more realistic characterizations used in "The Married Life".

      I'm currently about halfway through the 6-volume "The Married Life" series of graphic novels, which reprints the entirety of the stories from Life With Archie magazine. It's pretty interesting, a little soap-opera-ish, but a real page turner. In both timelines, Veronica Lodge's father, owner of Lodge Industries, is sort of like the sinister corporate CEO version of Lex Luthor from the '90s, propelling much of the drama. Not immediately apparent until you get fairly well into the extended story, is a science fiction element connecting the two parallel timelines. When I read about the recent announcement of Riverdale as a TV series, I thought "I'll bet they'll be mining the various subplots from The Married Life as story fodder for adaptation." Not that I think they'll do anything like a straight adaptation, but I can see them pulling nuggets of ideas from that series, since it's written in a very soap opera mode to begin with.

      Archie Comics seems to be heavily invested in reprints (both the digests and trade paperbacks) right now, as well as digital formats. Hopefully the TV series does well for them and gives those characters a boost in interest from the public. Right now, the company seems to be largely carried on the strength of sales from the Sonic and Mega Man franchises, while the rest of the Archie characters do much better in reprints. Other issues affecting the company in the 21st Century include the controversial introduction of gay character Kevin Keller (which raised a backlash from conservatives in middle America), ongoing legal battles with the estate of 50-year mainstay artist Dan DeCarlo (he created Sabrina and Josie), and some internal strife among the company's management a few years back.
      Last edited by pulphero; 12-01-2014, 05:33 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by pulphero View Post
        . . . they introduced what appears to be a companion title set in the same timeline (but earlier), Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I suspect that these were designed to alternate story arcs, with one taking over while the other goes on hiatus for a while, but I worry that it maybe didn't go over as well as AWA, because it's been a few months since the first issue of CAOS shipped and still no 2nd issue in sight.
        The Sabrina book did so poorly it had to go back for a second printing: http://archiecomics.com/chilling-adv...ing-announced/ and according to the Top 300 Comic Books for October 2014 list, it sold nearly 50,000 copies (granted, that would mostly be based on what dealers ordered, but . . . ) and was #44 on that list of Top 300 comic books.

        While I'm also wondering when issue #2 is due out, the first issue was released October 8th, and this is only December 1st.

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        • #5
          ...only 2 months? seems like 3. guess it must be bimonthly, or late. Probably late, since they've already solicited up through issue 5. Diamond's now listing an estimated shipping date of 12/10/14 for number 2. My LCS still has tons of copies of issue 1 (he obviously speculated). That made me wonder if that might not have happened to a lot of retailers, who didn't want to be caught with their pants down, after not ordering enough of the first Afterlife With Archie. My thinking was that even though issue 1 sold great for Archie Comics and Diamond Distributors, retailers might have overestimated the actual demand (given that Sabrina is not as iconic a character as Archie, and um, no zombies here)... and then maybe cut back on their original orders for future issues.

          Probably seems even longer to me, since I've personally read a couple hundred issues worth of Archie Comics (back issues, digests and collected editions) in the intervening time since SABRINA #1 came out. That's more than I've read in the last 30 years of reading comic books -- the only others I've read would be the Red Circle books and Mega Man.
          Last edited by pulphero; 12-01-2014, 06:29 PM.

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          • #6
            It seems that Afterlife With Archie #7 will ship to comic shops on Dec. 10, 2014 - before even the second issue of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. So there goes my theory that CAOS was launched in part to give Francesco Francavilla's schedule some breathing room by alternating story arcs. It still isn't totally clear whether CAOS in set in the same timeline as AWA (it could be, if set earlier in time, but there's nothing concrete as yet to connect them).

            Good news for fans of AWA, but it seems like Archie Comics is now keeping Francavilla so busy that we may never see the long-delayed BLACK BEETLE sequel, Necrologue, from Dark Horse.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by pulphero View Post
              Other issues affecting the company in the 21st Century include the controversial introduction of gay character Kevin Keller (which raised a backlash from conservatives in middle America)
              But I thought that if anything, the intro of Kevin had frankly improved things for Archie overall?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ChastMastr View Post
                But I thought that if anything, the intro of Kevin had frankly improved things for Archie overall?
                Well, they got a lot of media coverage, most of it very positive. However (unless the title is on hiatus) it doesn't appear that KEVIN KELLER is being published currently. The last issue came out in September, and no further issues have been solicited. It also appears that the previously-solicited 4th reprint collection of KEVIN KELLER has now been cancelled. I honestly haven't been following events at Archie that closely, so I don't know any inside scoop on this, I'm just telling you what I'm seeing. I do recall that the cover of LIFE WITH ARCHIE magazine #16 spotlighting the wedding of Kevin Keller caused a minor tempest in a teacup with the conservative group American Family Association (also known as "One Million Moms") protesting the magazine being displayed for sale at Toys R Us. I believe the publicity wound up making that issue a sellout. I would assume that was due to speculators, since it would seem the regular KEVIN title didn't sell well enough to continue. I also know that the ARCHIE: THE MARRIED LIFE - Book 3 (that reprints that issue, and cover, from LWA) was banned in Singapore... I don't know what affect it had on other non-direct sales of Archie Comics. Kevin had first appeared in VERONICA #202, returned in #205, and took over the final issues (#207-210) as sort of a trial miniseries; then VERONICA was cancelled, to be replaced by the new KEVIN KELLER book. In the last few years ARCHIE & FRIENDS, BETTY and JUGHEAD ceased publication as well, all of them seeing their final issues cover-dated in 2012. That qualifies as some sort of "Archie Comics Implosion", I guess. SABRINA (revived in the '90s to tie into the live-action TV series) ended in 2009 after going through a version based on the animated series by DiC, then back to something closer to the original version, then switching to a manga version, only to end by converting the last few issues into a "Young Salem" miniseries.

                I would say what you're seeing at Archie with the introduction of Kevin Keller, the LIFE WITH ARCHIE magazine "Married Life" alternate future stories (and "The Death of Archie"), AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE and CHILLING TALES OF SABRINA, and variant covers on virtually every new comic they release now, is a company once known for sticking to the tried-and-true, "house style" and formula stories that they've survived on for decades, realizing that they spent too little time courting the comic shop direct market, and now they're fighting to get noticed. So they're using all the same gimmicks that seem to work for the other companies, "what if" stories, "death of" stories, alternate covers, zombies. Add to that the Dark Circle initiative to revive their superhero characters (might be too little, too late, but we'll see). They are pretty late getting into the graphic novel/collected edition trade paperback market, but to make that work they've only really gotten into the longer story arcs since about 2006, with Michael Uslan's "Will You Marry Me?" story (which was the precursor to the whole "Married Life" alternate timeline thing in LIFE WITH ARCHIE). It worked in my case, but to be honest, it seems like Archie Comics has never turned out fewer pages of new stories in the history of the company.

                One thing they haven't tried as yet is reviving the "Archie's Super Teens" concept (Archie as Pureheart the Powerful, Reggie as Evilheart, Jughead as Captain Hero and Betty as Superteen). I'm guessing you could add Kevin Keller as "The Equalizer" (seen in his last couple of issues) to that group, maybe some others (Sabrina seems like a natural, since she already has magic powers). I could imagine this working, if done in the style of Giffen/DeMatteis and Maguire's JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, crossed with just a little bit of the old Wolfman and Perez NEW TEEN TITANS. Seems inevitable eventually, it's just a question of who they'll get to do it, how tongue-in-cheek they'll play it, and what kind of art style they'll go with. Maybe they should hire Giffen and DeMatteis to write it, and someone like Amanda Conner to draw it.

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                Last edited by pulphero; 12-05-2014, 06:47 AM.

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