EDITORS NOTE: I'm over "best of" lists. I came to the realization that I personally only read them to see if the list agrees with my opinions and if it does not then I instantly forget about it. I assume that I'm not the only one that sees them this way. So instead of a meaningless list I am posting a series of eleven individual reviews of comics I liked in 2011. These comics will be reviewed in no particular order. It was not my intention to wait until late in the year 2012 to post about these 11 comics but, events occurred. Thank you for your patience. Thanks for reading.
Featuring work by Paul Kupperberg, Dan Parent, Norm Breyfogle, Fernando Ruiz, Pat Kennedy and others.
Available for subscription here.
My daughter has been reading Archie comics for about five years. She started with the digest books we found at grocery and drug stores. When the Life With Archie magazine started in 2010 we both wanted to check it out but it was really hard to find. The first issue we found was number 4 and we found it at a CVS drug store about 45 minutes from where we live. Not the most practical way to keep up with Archie Andrews' married life. So, I got her a subscription and it has been money well spent. My daughter starts bugging me about "when is the next issue out" a few days after we get the latest. Dollar for dollar I think it is the best ongoing (semi) monthly mainstream book out there. (Especially with Shonen Jump gone from the grocery store magazine stand.)
Just look at that beautiful Norm Breyfogle Christmas cover. Probably my favorite cover of 2011 and it looks so nice on that slick shiny magazine paper. And I love the magazine format. Each issue has two comics in it and the comics are really solid. Solid writing, art, colors etc. The stories are fascinating. So far it has been the Married Life story in which Archie travels to two different futures. One comic gives you a future married to Betty and the other a future married to Veronica. The kids are out of high school, married and dealing with grown-up stuff.
And it is insane.
This stuff is often Twin Peaks crazy. If Michael J. Fox and Doc kidnapped Archie Andrews and used the time DeLorean to drop him in the black lodge this comic is what you would get.
It is a wacky gimmick but the great thing about it is that it allows them to tell a lot of different kinds of stories. Most notably, it allows them to tell the story of the marriage of Kevin Keller.
Issue 16 of Life With Archie might be considered a January 2012 comic but we got our copy in the mail in December 2011 so I'll talk about it here. It has the (sort of) controversial Kevin Keller story of a gay interracial marriage. In an Archie comic. Maybe it is a gimmick but I think it will go down as the most important comic of 2011.
Keller is a veteran and the comics deal with both war drama and the issues that vets deal with after coming home. And that whole gay marriage thing. It's dealing with some things that are very much a part of what it is to be alive right now and these are issues kids are seeing whether we want them to or not.
As a parent I really appreciate how Life With Archie deals with these issues in a matter of fact way. It's not a preachy thing on the ethics of the "war on terror" or issues with marriage equality. It's just, here is this guy that went to high school with the Riverdale kids then he went and served our country in a war and now he's back and here is what he is dealing with. It's the kind of thing a lot of people are dealing with but we don't see much of it in those "grown-up" "not just for kids anymore" comics that Marvel and DC put out. And of course it still has insane trans dimensional romance. Where Archie beats Marvel and DC (who both followed Archie with their own gay stories in 2012) is that when they do these things it comes from a fun lighthearted place. When Marvel and DC do them it comes from a dark, gross and cynical place. Twelve year old Merry Marvel Marching Society Shannon Smith would never believe this but right now I prefer the comics coming out of Riverdale. (Just don't tell my daughter. She thinks the subscription was for her.)
Your best pal ever,
p.s. Say you want a leader but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you'd better close it and let me guide you to my twitter feed.
p.p.s. Let's pretend we went to high school together on facebook
p.p.p.s. Google + is another place you can read the same thing I posted here.
p.p.p.p.s. I'll tumblr for ya.