Writer: Ian Flynn
Art: Ryan Jampole
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Archie Jumbo Comics Digest, No. 333
On-Sale Date: September 7, 2022
Sam Hill is outside Riverdale High, doing the stereotypical hardboiled narration. Various students (including Kevin, Ginger, and Chuck) give him odd looks. Sam describes Riverdale High as very clean and crime-free, and no students do any shady shit or take any precautions. A hacker “has been making trouble across all fifty states” and has led Sam here. For this case, Sam needed some “expert help profiling the perp”…
…but he had to settle for Archie Andrews. We learn he and Archie had a clandestine meeting earlier at Pop’s. Archie was trying to “hide” behind a menu. Why is Archie dressed like he did in the 1940s? Seriously, he’s wearing the same old outfit (including the bowtie), and his hair is in a throwback style as well. Anyway, Sam explains to Archie that the hacker (“Pseudo”) is attacking school databases and wiping out all of their grading data.
Archie likes that, but Sam asks him if he really wants to repeat “all of high school and middle school” (bullshit), so Archie declares “Their evil must be stopped.” Sam needs someone that can blend in with the other students and I.D. Pseudo among them. Archie says he’s “only handled a few weird mysteries” (nice shoutout) and suggests Sam do it himself. Sam says he tried that once, and it didn’t go well. We then get a brief (probably very recent) flashback of Sam trying to pose as a ’90s kid at Riverdale High and freaking Jughead, Dilton, Betty (who looks retro-1960s, it seems), and Chuck the fuck out.
Later, at Riverdale High, Archie is on the “hunt”. He has a transmitter in his ear with which to communicate with Sam. Archie appraises various students as he passes them in the hallway. Dilton definitely has the know-how, but he’d never ruin things for everyone. Reggie is certainly the type to try such a stunt and not think about the consequences, but he can barely manage his phone. Cheryl would be spiteful enough, and she could hire Pseudo to do the attack, and Archie gets a boner and wants to “interrogate” Cheryl, so he doesn’t finish his appraisal of her.
Okay, let’s pause here. Cheryl is attending Riverdale High. I’m calling attention to this, because, believe it or not, for the past seven years, Archie Comics had never definitively established this. Until now.
In the final major storyline of the Betty and Veronica floppy title, shortly before it was canceled, Cheryl was shown to attend Riverdale High and even joined the cheerleading squad. However, that storyline involved Veronica and Betty leaving Riverdale High and attending schools as exchange students in various nations around the world, and the Archie floppy title completely ignored this, so the argument went that the Betty and Veronica storyline occurred in either another school year or an alternate universe. Cheryl has been shown attending dances at Riverdale High since then, but those were excused away as not being evidence of her attending Riverdale High.
Well, now, we have evidence. It’s one double-sized panel in a rather unremarkable short story, but there it is. So it seems Cheryl has been attending Riverdale High for this entire time, ever since the last of the floppy titles were canceled seven years ago in 2015. Yet we don’t know why she’s been attending Riverdale High. She attended for a few months in her solo title in 1998 as punishment by her parents, and she attended again from 2004 to late 2008 / early 2009, when her family had lost money (and were reduced to being merely upper-middle-class), but there was never (as far as I can tell) a story where she started attending Riverdale High for a third time. Why would she? Perhaps the same reason that Veronica attends: to have her understand the common people more and not grow out of touch with them? But then why wouldn’t Jason be attending as well?
I’ve theorized about Pembrooke Academy being subtly dropped from the stories as a way to consolidate the characters after the cancelation of the floppy titles and the subsequent drastically reduced output of Classic Archieverse stories by the company. Indeed, the last time that I recall any mention of Pembrooke was in “Stranded in Paradise!“, and that came out over a decade ago. And the last time that we actually saw Pembrooke Academy? Probably the “Queen B” storyline in 2009 (but that story was weird all around). Anyway, Cheryl still lives in a mansion, and you could argue it’s located in Pembrooke, but she attends Riverdale High.
Anyway, Sam tells Archie to focus. He says Pseudo is a master of disguise and could be someone that Archie doesn’t recognize. Why would he just now be telling Archie this? Archie says he knows everyone here. The first bell rings. Sam tells Archie to quickly get to the server room, because Pseudo might be attacking right now, while everyone is occupied with their classes. Why would the hacker have to be by the server?
Anyway, Archie somehow knows where the server room is and goes there. He sees someone, but the lights are off. He tries to get a better look.
He flips the power switch for the lights from the up position to the down position, and this somehow turns on the light in that one room. All of the other switches are in the up position. The labels are inconsistent from panel to panel. One of the switches is actually labeled “Dilton’s Secret Lair”.
Anyway, Pseudo (who wears a mask with a question mark on it) says Archie ruined everything, knocks him on his ass, and runs off, seemingly leaving his laptop behind. Archie gets to his feet and informs Sam of what happened. Sam says at least Archie stopped Pseudo and saved everyone’s grades. Archie, full of himself, calls himself a hero, not seeing a pissed Mr. Weatherbee standing behind him. A caption in the final panel reads “To Be Continued…?” It’s been over two months, and this story has yet to be followed up on, so I’m guessing no.
This story was okay, I guess, but I find it far more notable for answering a longstanding question about Cheryl’s academic status. You could say Sam Hill cracked that case.