Review by Frank Plowright
As with the entire Archie Americana series, the first volume spotlighting a decade hones in on the era’s fads and celebrities, or equivalents slightly differently named to avoid lawyers starting to twitch. Here Archie and the gang take part in Wheel of Loot, play Trivial Trivia, try breakdancing, roller disco and hair braids, and meet E.T., Bruce Bingstone, Michael Jackstone and John Revolta.
Older readers might notice some of those items are more associated with the 1970s, but the conservative Archie Comics weren’t ones to hitch themselves to any passing fad. They often waited until it had rolled all the way through town and was on the way elsewhere before making their move. They can be quite judgemental and condescending, with Archie reacting badly to Jughead adopting a punk look and attitude in George Gladir and Stan Goldberg’s outing. It’s meant as a joke, and a final page undermines the remainder, but read through this entire selection and it reinforces again and again how being different and individual is more trouble than it’s worth. More positively, we see more of African American Chuck in these stories.
Between them, Gladir and Frank Doyle write thirteen of the fifteen stories here, although that’s known thanks to credits on The Grand Comics Database, as Archie are very poor at recognising creators in these collections. Gladir and/or Doyle may have written the other two also, but the GCD has no credits for them. Doyle has that Archie formula down, but Gladir’s the more imaginative writer, more likely to take a story somewhere unexpected. His best is Betty’s fantasy about hosting Wheel of Fortune, but still pestered by the wily Veronica. It objectifies Archie hilariously, and Stan Goldberg’s art seals the comedy. Not that there’s a poor page of cartooning here. The list of artists shows the quality on offer, with the sample spread combining Dan DeCarlo (left) with his son Dan DeCarlo Jr. (right).
This isn’t quite the top-notch selection of stories found in some earlier volumes spanning decades, and the second Eighties book is better. They’re combined along with the two selections from the Nineties as The Best of Archie Americana: Bronze Age.