Posted by: Brian Hibbs on August 11, 2007
Archie #577 tries to tackle a modern issue, but the presentation is so one-sided and ignorant that it fails even as brainwashing.
The Archies, it seems, are ready to record a song that’s been popular when they’ve played it live. (The lyrics we see are “RU the 1 4 me”, which suggests that they’ve been listening to an awful lot of 80s Prince.) They scrape together money for studio time and decide to sell the record on their website, only with no physical CD “to reduce overhead”. But boo hoo, their fans make copies for each other instead of buying, so they don’t make any money.
There’s so much wrong with this story in terms of internal logic that it’s hard to know where to start. We’re supposed to believe that they’re savvy enough to have a website and conduct a financial product analysis, but they’ve never even thought about downloading until it prevents them from getting rich? And there’s little incentive to want to support such spoiled kids. Instead of asking each other “hey, have we made enough money to cover recording costs yet?” they brag about how their ship has come in and use the term “fortune” in their plans.
The exaggerated ending has the kids working at Big Burger in order to replace their lost savings. Why don’t they play a few more gigs? They presumably get paid for those. Or sell signed physical CDs at shows, for an experience the kids can’t get online? If they refuse to create an object for sale, why are they complaining that people aren’t willing to give them the money they feel they deserve? Kids are drawn handing each other CDs, so that suggests (whether the creator intended or not) a desire for something physical.
Not to mention that we’re talking about an Archie comic, where every other ad is for an Archie logo bag or Archie cartoon DVDs or different kinds of collections or subscriptions or packs of back issues. The publisher has obviously figured out a lot of different ways to make money off the same material, giving the audience choice.
But what do you expect from a writer who has one character ask another, in terms of determining how their website downloads are doing, “how many records have we sold so far?” And yeah, there’s only so much you can do in six pages, but I think this one should have been double-sized if they were serious about handling the subject.
I’ve been told that a review isn’t “real” unless it discusses the art, so here: the faces are sometimes squished in odd ways. Since most of the panels are talking heads with various arm motions, this is a detriment, but it’s made up by the variety of expression shown.
There are three other stories in this issue. Archie and Veronica go canoeing, which always ends badly because Archie is a klutz. (So why does Veronica keep agreeing to go?)
Betty and Veronica go to the beach together, where they argue over Archie. This is a poor story, because there’s no reason to it other than pointing out that the triangle among the three is ridiculous, especially given how long-lasting it’s been. It’s questioning one of the basic premises of the series in a way that leaves the reader unsatisfied. If the reader agrees with the characters, then they feel silly for even reading the comic. If they disagree, there’s nothing else to the story.
Last, Archie takes a Boy Scout-like group on a hike where Jughead brings the food. Amazingly, Archie is competent in this story, perhaps because he actually doesn’t do much but stand around.
Rating this issue doesn’t seem like fair play, because it is what it is. It’s formulaic, as are many superhero comics, but that’s comfortable for its target audience of younger readers. If I have to, I give it an Eh.