Tandy Computer Whiz Kids “vol 2 #1”
Archie Comics/Radio Shack (1990)
“A Deadly Choice”
WRITERS: Fred Brussow & Mike Pellowski
PENCILER: Howard Bender
INKER: Mike Esposito
COLORIST/PRODUCTION: Barry Grossman
LETTERER: Bill Yoshida
EDITOR: Victor Gorelick
I’m referring to this as volume two, which is as unofficial as the issue numbers, because it marks a total reboot of the series. While the previous comics still built out of the DC trio, just in a new city, A lot is changed in these last three issues. The art style is different, although Alec and Shanna’s fashion choices appear to be the same. Also they’re now siblings when previous DC and Archie stories seemed to treat them as friends. Detective Shaw and Judy Baker are sadly absent, and despite the name, computers factor less into the day saving than some of the previous issues of recent.
Alec and Shanna discuss their vacation working in a camp that helps people on drugs among other things, but it’s that last part that inspires Ms. Wilson to start a school hotline. This is bad news to two kids in particular as they’re part of a drug selling operation at the school. They tell their contact, Buzz, who sends a fake tip that Shanna, who is running the hotline, drove a kid towards drugs, forcing the hotline to be shut down until the investigation is complete. Alec gets the idea to record the contact that they’ve seen in an alley and at the school, but one of the kids catches them. He doesn’t expose them because he’s questioning just how far things have gone, especially after one of their new customers robs his house and injures his parents. With all the collected evidence Shanna is cleared and the whole operation is shut down.
What they got right: This isn’t the first time the pair have dealt with drug dealers but it does feel a bit more natural (ignoring that they’re in elementary school because of suspension of disbelief for the sake of the story). Alec, who has been barely part of things for the last few issues until “Fit To Win”, gets to use his head, keeping information on the contact on his computer and using the camcorder (Tandy brand of course) to help gather evidence. We also get one of the drug selling kids have a conscience as things have gotten out of hand, so we see his redemption. And we got proof that our heroes have parents. We actually meet them for the first time in this franchise.
What they got wrong: I’m not sure Alec and Shanna needed to be brother and sister when they were just fine as friends. The computer in the comic’s name only comes in handy as a digital notebook, making the title almost a lie at this point in the franchise. Computers have played less and less of a role as well ever since Archie took over. I kind of miss the action of the earlier TRS-80/Tandy Computer Whiz Kids stories, and why didn’t they use Detective Shaw as one of the detectives? Was it some Ken Penders style rights issue?
What I think overall: Between the art and the situation it feels like a reboot but that’s not a bad thing. I did find the comic good but I wish they had gone back to the style of the DC and EARLY Archie comics. They might have been less realistic but they were more fun. Still, the more Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew style may appeal to some.