The nice thing about the double digests is that you always get your money‘s worth in entertainment value. From new stories, older classics and selected newspaper comics reprints, the digests offer at least 143 pages of fun entertainment. This issue is no exception.
The book opens with a new story by Tom DeFalco and 2 new Archie artists: Gisele on pencils and Shouri on inks. “Ball in the Hall” follows the detecting skills of Archie and Sayid Ali, one of the “new kids” introduced earlier this year in various Archie books. In fact, this story has a number of the newer students and faculty introduced in that storyline. The intrepid detectives are looking for a prankster that keeps launching a bouncing ball down the hall. They go through the usual list of subjects but cannot find the elusive prankster. Gisele’s fresh art and sense of playfulness keeps the story going at a great pace. Her take on the Archie characters is unique but traditional, and she seems to be channeling Dan DeCarlo without aping his style.
Gisele also does the art on the last story “Phone A Friend” with a script by J. Torres. Again, the characters look like young teens – like they’re supposed to – but there’s little action in this story as Archie obsesses about his new smart phone. Gisele’s and inker Maria Robado’s fun art keep the story lively with some great work on the character’s facial expressions, something I haven’t seen done this well since Kevin Maguire’s run on Justice League. Torres takes what could have a dull story and makes it interesting to read, a perfect compliment to Gisele’s art. I’ve enjoyed his Jinx stories in the “Life with Archie” magazine, and he doesn’t disappoint here.
Torres also does another fun new story called “E-Con- Omics” where Archie and Chuck go to a local comic convention to sell some of Chuck’s art. The art by Pat Kennedy and Jim Amash adds to the fun. Another new story lampoons psychics with Fernando Ruiz handling both the script and art. Fernando also did the cover for this issue, aided by the very talented Rosario “Tito” Pena on colors. The reprints include a number of newspaper strips care of Craig Boldman and Henry Scarpelli, three Wilbur stories by Frank Doyle and Dan DeCarlo, and assorted stories by Bill Golliher, George Gladir, Kathleen Webb, Stan Goldberg, Dexter Taylor and Dick Malmgren. With the extensive library of stories Archie has access to, it’s no wonder each digest is packed with new goodies. 3.5 out of 5 stars! Oh, and Archie, let’s see more of Gisele’s great art in your books!