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‘The Archie Encyclopedia’ (review)

Written by Ian Flynn, Caty Koehl,
Gillian Swearingen, Jamie L. Rotante

Art by Various
Cover by Dan Parent
Published by Archie Comics

 

Unlike the Marvel and DC Universes, the Archie universe doesn’t have nearly a century of increasingly convoluted continuity in its background.

In spite of the changing times, the Riverdale gang has never really seen that much change in their characters.

Still, having, myself, worked in various capacities on more than half-a-dozen Archie history projects over the past decade-plus, now, I’ve long said there needs to be a good jumping-on point for new fans, somewhere they can simply and easily look up just the basics…of everything.

The Archie Encyclopedia, credited to a committee of writers, is pretty much just that, offering capsule profiles of the various multiversal Archie series such as the classic version, the tween version, the child version, the ancient version, the futuristic version, the spy version, the superhero version, and, of course, the hit TV version, Riverdale.

There are separate but equal listings on the Sabrina and Josie franchises, and a long list of stray characters the company published through the years, from Cosmo the Merry Martian and Super Duck to Young Doctor Masters and Seymour. Even comedy characters like Captain Sprocket get their due, although only a couple of the original MLJ superheroes turn up here—Captain Flag and Captain Commando.

Unfortunately, the book has some incorrect info, as in when it states, “Reggie debuted on his own in 1942’s Jackpot Comics #5 and went on to be folded into the greater Archie universe later.”  Uh…that particular comic is easily found online, and whilst Reggie does indeed make his first appearance there, it’s already in an Archie story.

Then there’s the lack of any explanation as to why Sabrina’s cousin Ambrose is now Ambrose PIPPS, which is the exact same last name as Archie’s childhood pal, Little Ambrose.

And while I’m sure it’s a typo, Katy Keene creator Bill Woggon’s name is misspelled in the acknowledgements, too.

Unforgivable to me, though, is the complete omission of Scarlet Saltee, the autistic teen introduced into Archie’s world with a considerable amount of publicity just a few years back. When the most obscure supporting characters in strips the company hasn’t published in decades get a paragraph or two, and this modern addition does not, I’m forced to believe that it’s due to the ongoing animosity between the two sides of the company.

Unfortunately, it’s the fans who suffer here as without Scarlett, The Archie Encyclopedia is obviously not complete at all.

Even with all that’s covered, I have to ask myself what else might have been skipped, purely out of spite. While I will admit to enjoying reading most of this book, I can’t really recommend it.

 

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