Thursday, September 8, 2022

#IReadsYou Review: World of BETTY AND VERONICA Jumbo Comics Digest #18


STORY: Ron Robbins; Tom DeFalco; Frank Doyle, and others
PENCILS: Jeff Shultz; Pat & Tim Kennedy; Dan DeCarlo; Stan Goldberg; and others
INKS: Jim Amash; Al Milgrom; Rich Koslowski; Rudy Lapick; Jon D'Agostino; and others
COLORS: Glenn Whitmore; Barry Grossman
LETTERS: Jack Morelli; Bill Yoshida
COVER: Dan Parent with Rosario “Tito” Peña
EiC: Mike Pellerito
ISSN: 2766-2160; (October 2022)
192pp, Color, $8.99 U.S. (August 31, 2022 – direct market)

Rating: All-Ages

New stories: “Wooden it Be Nice?”; “Only the Strong Survive”

World of Betty and Veronica (Jumbo Comics) Digest is part of “The Archie Digest Library” series.  Debuting in early 2021, World of Betty and Veronica Digest is a mini-trade paperback-like series that features stories reprinted from across the publishing history of Archie Comics.  The stories focus on two of Archie Comics' main characters, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, best friends and also rivals in their love for Archie Andrews.  Sometimes, however, these digests open with an original story.

World of Betty and Veronica (Jumbo Comics) Digest #18, the latest edition, contains two brand new five-page stories.  The first is a “Betty and Veronica” tale entitled “Wooden it Be Nice?”  It is written by Ron Robbins and is drawn by Jeff Shultz (pencils).  The second is a “Pepper Smith” story entitled, “Only the Strong Survive”  It is written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Pat & Tim Kennedy (pencils).  Both stories are inked by Jim Amash; colored by Glenn Whitmore; and lettered by Jack Morelli.

Betty and Veronica in “Wooden it Be Nice?”:

Betty, Veronica, Archie, Jughead, Cheryl Blossom, and the rest of the gang are at the annual Riverdale Fall Carnival.  A stray basketball starts a series of events that finds Betty transformed into a wooden puppet?!  Can Betty find a way to leave this crazy circumstance and end up in Archie's arms, instead?  Guess-starring Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Pepper Smith in “Only the Strong Survive:

Pepper tells Josie and Valerie (of the Josie and the Pussycats) that their band mate, Melody Valentine, relies too much on the boys who are obsessed with her doing things for her.  Pepper decides to help Melody become more self-reliant – an independent and resourceful young woman.  Pepper believes that she can achieve this by taking Melody on a camping trip.  Pepper is about to discover that Melody is inept at everything … except attracting eager teenage boys.

THE LOWDOWN:  World of Betty and Veronica (Jumbo Comics) Digest is a Betty & Veronica title, of course.  Most of the stories in issue #18 focus on Betty and Veronica as a duo or feature each girl in solo stories.  However, digest series publications also cover the history of Archie Comics, so this issue also includes stories starring such characters as Archie Andrews, Cheryl Blossom, and Ethel Muggs, to name a few.

As for the new stories, “Wooden it Be Nice?” is a fun take on the Pinocchio story, and it is timely because of the recent release of Disney's new live-action Pinocchio film on the Disney+ streaming service.  “Only the Strong Survive” stars Pepper Smith.  She is an early character from the world of Josie McCoy who was phased out in the 1969 revamp that created the title, Josie and the Pussycats.  As this new story and others have shown, Pepper and Melody make a good comedy duo.  Melody's playfulness and naivete make an excellent foil for Pepper and her assertiveness.

As a Josie and the Pussycats super-fan, I must inform you that there are three Josie reprint stories in World of Betty & Veronica Jumbo Comics Digest #18.  There are “The Emissary,” “Club Crisis,” and the one-page “What's in a Name.”  “Club Crisis” is drawn by Josie's creator, the late Dan DeCarlo.

As usual, I must warn you, dear readers.  I will always recommend classic-style Archie Comics titles.  With the addition of two new stories, World of Betty and Veronica (Jumbo Comics) Digest #18 is most definitely worth finding.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of classic-style Archie Comics will want World of Betty and Veronica (Jumbo Comics) Digest #18.

★★★½ out of 4 stars

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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