Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A DNL critique

"My Father's Betrayal", the DNL story running through BVDD 169-173 is finished.

As predicted, it bore a ham-fisted message about business and the environment finding a way to coexist peacefully. How bad is it? To hammer the message home they have Mr. Lodge say "Industry has to work with environmentalists, not against them."

At the end of the day, the forest is saved by Mr. Lodge reducing the size of his industrial park and cutting his profit, a "personal sacrifice I am willing to make for the environment". The gag at the end is that Veronica's allowance will be reduced since Hiram is making less money on the deal.

This story contained some elements that kind of surprised me. The whole conflict ends up being between townspeople who want to save the forest, and those who want the jobs the new industrial park will create. This culminates in a large demonstration that turns into a violent riot, with both the "tree huggers" and "enemies of the environment" being equally to blame. The violence is quelled when Hiram takes over a bullhorn and convinces the people that he can find a way to have the forest and the jobs. After a week of secrecy and working around the clock with his lawyers and engineers they reveal their brilliant plan to the town: make the industrial park a bit smaller and save the forest. I was really hoping for some kind of fantastical, futuristic plan, but that was clearly hoping for way too much.

For me there is only one interesting aspect to this story: The resurrection of Sandy Sanchez. Sandy was Jug's love interest in the DNL story "The Matchmakers", and not only does she appear in the story, but her father does too. This is significant as it is the only time one of the disposable characters created for a DNL story has come back.

It is doubly significant since Sandy originated in a Jughead DNL story, showing that the NRJC may reach beyond the "classic" strips and into the DNL world.

The art, I'm convinced, is the next big step in establishing a new standard look for the gang. In past DNL stories the characters were drawn quite different from their classic looks. The differences between Betty and Ron and Arch and Reg were exaggerated, and Jug was drawn very different from the norm. The art in this tale is basically the classic look through a DNL filter. I don't think it works, except for Mr. Lodge. Hiram has never looked better, and they've drawn Hermione as much hotter and younger (easily 20 years younger than Hiram) than ever before.

For the past few years Mary Andrews has been getting hotter all the time, but Hermione Lodge has been static, so it's nice to see her updated. Curiously, in the "Goodbye Forever" DNL story (which sucks balls) Mary is drawn very matronly, and not at all the MILF we've been seeing in regular continuity for a while.

Oh yes, and for those keeping track (which I'm sure is just me) the disposable character is Prof. Higgins, a biologist.

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