Aug 25, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 547: Archie Giant Series Magazine #617, January 1991

Is it too early to be reading Christmas comics? I figure if I get started now, I'll have ramped up to the Christmas spirit by the beginning of December or so. And, funnily enough, that's what this comic is about. The Riverdale gang are having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit, so Jingles the Christmas elf sails on down to dispense some magical Christmas dust.

(The cynical part of me can't help be see this as a drug metaphor. See what I mean about having to ramp up to the holiday feeling?)

The art is competent, the writing is competent, but there's still something lacking in this comic. Older Archie comics usually produce in me at least one out loud chuckle, if not a full on guffaw. But this one was just...nice, I guess. I think, for me, the best Archie stories are the ones that push just a little outside of the bounds of reality into the surreal. This may sound like a strange thing to say considering that there's a magical Christmas elf in this story, but it's not the same kind of surreality. The problems of this story were not solved by insane schemes cooked up by a boy whose brain is about 98% dedicated to women, or his pal that sees everything through the lens of food, nor is it solved by a young woman throwing more money than Trump has at every problem. When characters push their defining features to ridiculous extremes, then we're into the realm of the surreal, as opposed to the magical, which is where this story lands. Like I said, a good story, but not really an Archie story.

And perhaps that's the thing. This is a story in which all of the main characters could have been replaced by generic teens and still have been pretty much the same. The only moments that really trade on specific characteristics of one of the Riverdale gang is when Jingles infuses Reggie with some Christmas generosity, and the rest of the group notice how kind he's being. But then he disappears for the rest of the comic, strangely, almost as if without his acerbic personality, there's no point in having Reggie in the story.

I think I may try another Christmas-themed Giant Series tomorrow. I'm curious now. Onward.

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