REVIEW: Kevin Keller #6

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Or – “Because We’re All Expecting It, I’m’a Get This Outta The Way:  OH, MY!”

Kevin Keller may be new to Riverdale, but the boy has excellent taste in his pop culture.  But what would bring a real-world TV and film legend to the microcosm of Riverdale, USA?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

KEVIN KELLER #6
Writer: Dan Parent
Penciler: Dan Parent
Inker: Rich Koslowski
Lettere: Jack Morelli
Colorist: Digikore Studios
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Publisher: Archie Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Kevin Keller:  Riverdale is a study in contrasts.  Simultaneously near the mountains, the desert, the ocean and the plains, it exists in a strange cosmic netherworld where it intersects with superheroes, aliens, an endless array of sixty-year-old high school students, and (most unbelievable of all) a still-lucrative independently-owned soda shoppe.  In the six decades since Archie first appeared, there have also been an impressive number of progressive stories from MLJ/Archie, from the appearance of Chuck in the 70s to Cheryl Blossom’s bout with cancer to the introduction of this book’s star, an openly gay teen.  (There was also that time that Jughead joined the Time Police, but that one’s a little more subjective in terms of its awesome.)  In this issue, we learn what influences helped each of Miss Grundy’s wacky class become who they are, although the mystery of why Archie drives a Model-T may be forever lost in time…

OF COURSE, JUGHEAD IS INSPIRED BY COLONEL SANDERS.

When I was younger, I have to admit, I turned up my nose at Archie books from time to time.  Seeing as they were endlessly available in reprint form at the checkout counter, I associated them with out-of-date fashions and slang (though, to be fair to my 13 year old self, this would have been the 1980s, reprinting stories from the seventies, full of bell-bottoms and puka shell necklaces.)  This issue opens in the halls of Riverdale High, with Veronica and Kevin discussing their latest assignment for Miss Grundy’s class.  (What class it is is left up in the air, but Grundy has taught literally EVERYTHING over the years, although other teachers eventually joined her.  I’m tempted to say that Grundy is on the Mister Feeney tenure track, but I think it’s actually probably the other way around.)  Ronnie’s inspiration for her presentation is Kim Kardashian, while Archie chooses Muhammad Ali, Betty speaks on Amelia Earhart, and Reggie chooses David Hasselhoff as his inspiration.  The writers really nailed that sequence for me, by the way, giving each of the regular gang a moment to perfectly define themselves before Kevin takes to the podium for his presentation.  What I really like about the current Archie books is how well they combine the classic tales of Archie past with a new sense of reality, as Kevin details the life and times of George Takei, even touching on his youth in a WWII-era internment camp, giving us a quick history lesson on our way through an entertaining story…

VERONICA IS DRESSED AS A WONDER WOMAN ANALOGUE.  LET THAT SINK IN…

I’ve always admired the work of the late Dan DeCarlo, especially on the Archie books, and his work serves kind of a benchmark for me on an other artist working in this venue.  Dan Parent isn’t new to the Archie franchise (he did the art on the KISS crossover last year, another fun story) and he handles the characters well, giving those of us who are old something to enjoy while writing a tale that I wouldn’t have a problem giving to my eight-year-old kid.  When Betty posts Kevin’s report online (RIVERDALE HAS THE INTERNET!), you know that there’s going to be a classic misunderstanding, and the visit to the Comicon so that Kevin can meet his idol is handled in a way that’s funny but still respectful to comic geekery, and contains some classic Jughead/Ethel non-romance.  Indeed, all the old favorites are right on their game this month, even as the focus is on the new kid, and Kevin even gets to go on a date this time around.  Will he meet his idol?  Well, I’m not gonna spoiler everything (after all, the book doesn’t go on sale until tomorrow as of the time of this writing) but I will say that I wasn’t disappointed by the read and the use of the celebrity guest star is integrated into the plot very well, and makes sense, which isn’t always the case.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  MAKES ME REMEMBER THE OLD DAYS WITH CAPTAIN HERO…

In short?  It’s a stunt issue done right, where the guest character’s presence enhances the story of our main character, and works within the reality presented.  Kudos is also due to Dan Parent for delivering the message of tolerance and acceptance without turning it into a plot-hammer or making me feel like I’m being preached to.  Kevin Keller #6 is well-drawn, well-written, and contains one of my favorite celebrity personalities, all the while managing to tell a cute and decently-crafted story without short-changing the underlying message (and vice versa) earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  These are good days to be a fan of Archie Comics, Faithful Spoilerites.  (If only I could get my long-awaited full-bore awesome revival of Super-Teen…  Can you hear me, Archie Comics?)

Rating: ★★★★☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!

Reader Rating

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