Comics – The Virtuous Villain

Writer: Frank Doyle*
Pencils: Dan DeCarlo*
Inks: Jim DeCarlo*
Colors: Barry Grossman*
Letters: Bill Yoshida*
Original Publication: Archie at Riverdale High, No. 89
Cover Date: December, 1982
Length: 11 pages

*I don’t have the original issue and am reviewing this story from the digital version of Cheryl Blossom Special, No. 3 (1995). I don’t know if anything was censored or otherwise altered for this reprint. The story might originally be uncredited. The credits come from Grand Comics Database and may or may not be accurate.

Bunny, Cheryl, Jason, and Cedric are hanging around outside Pembrooke Academy, bored. Cheryl and Jason suggest they “torment townies”. Cedric wants to try “something new and different” to torment them. Bunny says they must be creative. Then Sidney S. Snavely shows up. Who’s he, you ask? Some new character that got a paragraph of introductory text at the beginning of the story. Basically, he’s a Pembrooke student with Dilton’s physique, an ugly face, no glasses, and Reggie’s personality. You can see him in the above cover image. Yeah, they really wanted to promote him. “He’s Reggie Mantle…under a different name! Be astounded!”

After a lot of debate regarding Sidney (the only really funny thing is Cedric uses big words, and Cheryl thinks he’s talking dirty), Cedric explains their dilemma, and Sidney takes on the challenge (meanwhile, Cheryl looks bored).

Sidney says it’ll take a day or two, but Cheryl’s bored now. He pisses off the “silly child”, and Jason tells her to leave Sidney alone, so Cheryl turns her back on them. After receiving more adoration, Sidney rushes off to “cogitate” in his room…in the dark.

Sidney eventually has a plan. Later, Jason walks over to Cheryl and asks her if she’s seen Sidney. She says he’s in the academy print shop, printing off handbills. Sidney comes outside and summons the “children”. His grand plan is for them to hand out handbills to the “townies” regarding some bullshit fake endangered species called the “hermit hugabear”. He also pulls a large poster of said bear out of his ass (a cartoonist in his art class drew it).

Cheryl loves the picture but is confused over the plan. He has them come inside with him. Having picked up Cedric and Bunny somewhere along the way, they gather…somewhere, and Sidney has them put on white robes with hoods like you see in Biblical or medieval movies. Sidney claims they won’t be recognized by the townies. Fortunately for them, bullshit comic book shadowing proves him right. He tells them to slump and hide their “natural aristocratic bearing”. He tells them to set up shop outside the mall. Um, doesn’t that require permission from the mall’s owner? Someone (and it’s difficult to tell who’s speaking with those stupid hoods on) asks Sidney what they’ll do with the money that they collect.

He waits until they’ve gotten into his yellow sports car and are on their way to the mall before he answers their question: they’ll purchase a large plaque, designating the Riverdale High townies as “suckers of the year”. They’ll let the media know of their clever hoax. Cheryl, who’s sitting next to him, loves the idea, even though everyone involved should realize taking credit for it in the media will lead to fraud charges against them.

At the mall, they set up the poster and beg for money. Archie, Betty, and Veronica read the handbill. Betty is brought to tears. They all give money, and Veronica offers to charge their mall purchases. Sidney watches while parked across the street (this doesn’t look like a mall, more like a downtown shopping area) and wonders what’s in it for him (referring to himself in the third person).

Sidney thinks and rambles to himself for an entire page, pissed off.

He keeps doing this, and he observes the Pembrooke students also collecting money from passing adults, not just the “rival kids”. When a man asks a question about the hugabear, two of the Pembrooke kids bullshit a response that should fool absolutely no one.

Sidney decides to expose their bullshit (which he started) in order to come off as a hero. He presents the man with an “encyclopedia of animals” that has “every animal on Earth” listed (did he just happen to have this on him?) and defies him to find a hugabear. One of the Pembrooke kids is like “What the fuck?!”

Immediately, the man finds an officer and orders him to “investigate this group”. The officer demands to see their faces. They pull back their hoods. The officer recognizes them from prior run-ins. Two people in a passing RIV TV van stop to document the “little local drama”. The reporter interviews the man, who credits Sidney, who gives his name on camera. The reporter praises Sidney for “uncovering this charity fraud”.

The cop tells the “young scamps” that the dean of their school is on his way, and they’ll meet him at the precinct. The camera guy gets a shot of them for the 6:00 PM news. Um, why aren’t the Pembrooke kids exposing Sidney’s role in the fraud?!

Later, Cedric, Bunny, Jason, and Cheryl are “confined to the grounds” for a month. Cheryl vows to not trust Sidney again. They’re all sitting in their dorm room and watching a news report of the mayor giving Sidney a medal. Um, what the fuck? Since when do they live at the school? Just the previous month, there was a story that referenced their mansion!

This story is pretty stupid all around. Nothing else to say.

This story was reprinted as a flashback within the “All I Want for Christmas is…Everything!” story in Cheryl Blossom Special, No. 3, in 1995.


Comics – Life’s A Circus

Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Rudy Lapick
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Editor: Scott Fulop
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom Special, No. 2
Cover Date: 1995
Length: 24 pages (including 11 pages of reprints)

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

There’s a 1-page introduction to Cheryl before the story.

Somewhere outside, Veronica spots Cheryl with a “hunk” and asks who he is. Betty doesn’t give a fuck as long as it’s not Archie. Cheryl walks over to them and introduces Louis. Louis says hi. Betty and Veronica get instant lady-boners over Cheryl’s guy. Cheryl explains Louis is a performer with a traveling carnival that’s in town.

Louis says his family has performed their carnival act for years. Veronica and Betty flirt with Louis. Cheryl tells them to back off, and Ronnie takes offense to that. Cheryl says she’ll see the girls around and has to show Louis the sights. Louis says maybe he’ll see them at the carnival. Betty is in disbelief that Cheryl considers them to be potential competition. Ronnie’s pissed about that, considering Cheryl’s history with Archie.

Ronnie decides (and Betty agrees) they’re gonna compete with Cheryl for Louis in order to pay Cheryl back. Ronnie decides they’re gonna go tomorrow. Then Jason randomly runs into Ronnie and knocks her on her ass on his way to the carnival. Um, two questions: Why isn’t he driving? And how does he think this will get him laid? Oh, by the way, this is the “spring carnival”. Anyway, Ronnie remembers a story that she heard from a friend of Bunny at Pembrooke and tells it to Betty.

The next 11 pages are a reprint of the 1980s story, “Snob Hill“, presented as a third-hand account from Veronica.

This convinces Ronnie to “go in for the kill”. Betty agrees.

The next day, Cheryl shows up at the carnival, eager to see Louis, but finds him with Betty and Veronica. Her “friends” came to watch him practice. Ronnie explains Louis is going to show them the sights of the carnival before he works out. Betty is delighted that they pissed Cheryl off. Cheryl overhears, unties a tent, and covers them.

Later, Reggie finds “Blossom” fuming over his “butt-in-ski” friends. Um, ski-in-butt might be possible (with a lot of lube), but I’m not sure about the other way around. Reggie offers his services (in the hope of getting laid, of course). Cheryl accepts. Reggie whispers his plan, which involves some carnival workers doing some stuff for extra cash (out of Cheryl’s pocket).

Inside the circus tent, Betty marvels at the trapeze guy, but Louis finds it strange that they’re practicing now. The trapeze guy picks Ronnie up unexpectedly, and Betty thinks nothing of it except to crack a dumb joke. Then another trapeze guy does the same to Betty. Cheryl shows up and offers to take Louis to lunch. Ronnie’s pissed and wants to swing down to them. Betty tries to stop her and ends up having to hold on to Ronnie. Ronnie cries for help. Cheryl’s pleased.

After lunch, Cheryl suggests they sign up for the outdoor follies together, but Louis says he’s entering the competition with Betty and Veronica. Cheryl pretends it’s okay but then connives with Reggie to sabotage it. During Louis and Ronnie’s three-legged sack race, Cheryl radios Reggie.

Reggie trips them, making Cheryl laugh. Louis spots the rope and guesses they’ve been sabotaged. Betty brushes it off and wants to concentrate on the next event. By the way, sometime during lunch, all three girls completely changed clothes, and Betty switched from a ponytail to pigtails. The next event is a limbo contest. Cheryl got the trapeze guys from before to hold the stick.

This is “couples limbo”. Betty and Louis are up first; Betty falls in the mud, but Louis avoids it, because it’s his “professional specialty” (he’s a contortionist; it’s a family talent). He thinks he knows why things are going wrong.

He guesses Cheryl is sabotaging them (he recognized the “limbo henchmen” from before). Louis whispers an idea to them.

Louis asks Cheryl to spend the rest of the day with him, and she agrees. Louis points out that Betty’s volunteering at the dunking booth. Cheryl wants to give it a shot. By the way, I don’t need to tell you that everyone involved has changed clothes yet again, do I? Good. Moving on.

Cheryl claims she’s a good shot. Betty tells Cheryl to give it her best. Cheryl hits the bullseye, and then the platform that she’s standing on opens up (outward), and she falls into water…somefuckinghow. Louis laughs at her but then offers to help her dry off. Oh, isn’t that nice of you? Afterward, Ronnie offers to treat them to cotton candy.

Cheryl somehow walks close enough to the cotton candy machine that Ronnie shoves her in (with help from Reggie, who trips her). Cheryl yells for help but then gets out herself. Cheryl’s pissed at Reggie. Reggie reveals he betrayed her, because she wasn’t giving up on Louis (um, he expected her to? Louis is her guy, after all). An angry Cheryl declares they all win and leaves in frustration, declaring she needs “classier friends”. The others laugh at her.

The next day, Louis is showing off his contortions for Betty and Veronica…constantly, and they’re getting fucking sick of it. Veronica and Betty walk off to talk about him being a loser. Cheryl walks by with Archie; they’re going to take in the sights of the carnival; Cheryl’s just “trying to be a good loser”. This leaves Ronnie and Betty perplexed and frustrated.

This story is pretty fun. Not much else to say.

Comics – Seymour No More!

Writer: Bill Golliher
Pencils: Bill Golliher
Inking: Jon D’Agnostino
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Editor: Scott Fulop
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom Special, No. 1
Cover Date: 1995
Length: 16 pages (including 5 pages of reprints)

*These are uncredited. I assume they’re the same as in the first story in this issue.

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

Veronica and Betty are walking along downtown. There’s some snow or water on the ground, and the girls seem dressed for winter. A pay phone rings. Veronica asks if they should get it. Betty says it “could be interesting”. Did teens behave like this back in the day, answering random pay phone calls just for shits and giggles? Anyway, Ronnie answers, and a knock-off of an MTV VJ tells her that they can win tickets to a sold-out Counting Canaries concert tonight. Betty excitedly asks Ronnie what they have to do.

Ronnie says there’s a new car and a bunch of eggs across the street. Betty sees them. As they run across the street, Ronnie explains they have one minute to pelt the car with all of the eggs while they videotape them with a hidden camera. Betty is down with doing the “wacky stunt” if it’ll win them tickets. *facepalms* How fucking stupid are these girls?! For all that they know, it could be a prankster on the phone. Anyway, the dumbasses pelt the car, Ronnie somehow keeping track of the time without a watch. Mr. Weatherbee comes by, enraged, and is like “What the fuck are you bitches doing to my new car?!” A voice behind them comments on how Betty and Veronica have “turned delinquent”. Veronica recognizes it as the voice from the phone and turns around.

It’s Cheryl, who had been calling from another, nearby pay phone. Somehow, Veronica and Betty hadn’t seen her earlier. Mr. Weatherbee tells Veronica and Betty to get in the car; they’re going to the car wash. I guess he expects them to just pay for the wash. Shouldn’t he call their parents first? Anyway, Ronnie tries to explain, but Weatherbee saw what he saw, and that’s that. Cheryl comments about “kids today”.

Afterward, as Betty and Veronica leave the car wash, Betty comments about the “awful prank”. Ronnie says Cheryl’s “gone too far”. Bitch, you couldn’t recognize Cheryl’s voice over the phone (which you and your airhead friend thought would be a good idea to answer), and both you and your airhead friend decided to do what this stranger on the phone told you to do. You have no one to blame but yourselves. Cheryl drives past and splashes them; she apologizes and claims she didn’t notice them. Betty and Ronnie are pissed. Ronnie wants to get back at Cheryl. Betty says Cheryl just wants to make them more miserable, and Ronnie says Cheryl, not having anything that they don’t, “just operates more effectively”. Betty reminds Veronica of an earlier incident. Ronnie confirms both the earlier incident and the current one occurred in winter.

Okay, hang on. Let’s talk continuity. It seemed to be fall in the previous story, and it was ski season before that. Cheryl arrived in a non-winter month. The upcoming flashback took place in winter. Just which grades are the characters supposed to be in in all of these stories?

The next five pages are a reprint of the 1980s story, “Hot Stuff“, presented as a flashback from Veronica’s perspective (perhaps with some input from Betty).

In the time that it took to have that flashback, Cheryl had gone into Pop’s (I guess) and is now being all lovey-dovey with Archie. Veronica decides to do a little research to find Cheryl’s weakness while she’s home cleaning up. Betty wishes her good luck. They part ways.

The next day, Betty’s hanging out at Pop’s. Ronnie comes in and says she’s found Cheryl’s soft spot. Reggie claims to have found a few, too. Ronnie sits down and shows Betty a copy of Raytown Reveler, the yearbook from Cheryl’s old school from before Pembrooke Academy. How the fuck did she find that? Anyway, Betty finds Cheryl in a photo of the student council and asks who the “weirdo” beside her is. Why she chose to ask about this random guy, I have no idea, but plot, so let’s move along. Ronnie points out that he’s in the homecoming pictures with Cheryl, too.

Apparently, he’s right at her side in every picture that she’s in (except, I assume, the solo picture that every student has taken for the yearbook). Betty guesses they were an item and finds this note on the dedication page: “To Seymour, I’ll always love you, always! Cheryl!” Ronnie is surprised. During their conversation, we see outside Pop’s for a bit, where a lovestruck Dilton is following Cheryl around. Anyway, Betty asks Ronnie what Cheryl saw in Seymour. Ronnie doesn’t know but suggests finding out if he feels the same. Betty hopes Seymour can take Cheryl away from them. Oh, that yearbook is from 1993, which means all of the 1980s stories, “Love Showdown”, “Love & War”, and “Coming Distractions” happened within the last two years at most.

The next day, Veronica and Betty pick up Seymour at the Riverdale train station. Ronnie had asked him to come and surprise Cheryl, because that’s a perfectly normal thing to do, and he did it, because that’s also normal. Did she at least pay for his ticket and offer to put him up in a hotel? Anyway, Seymour now remembers who she is and asks how “Red” is.

They take him to her right now; she’s at Pop’s with her “all-male entourage” (according to Betty). At Pop’s, Moose is hoping for a date with Cheryl (fucking hypocrite), and Reggie and Archie are reminding Cheryl of their upcoming dates. Dilton gets to sit with Cheryl at her table, and he still has a raging boner for her. Seymour barges in (followed by a happy Veronica) and claims “Red” as if she’s his private property. Cheryl is shocked to see him and asks what he’s doing here. He explains. Seymour asks if she’s forgotten him. She says no but guesses they started to drift, due to the distance. Oh, Cheryl has really stupid pet names for Seymour: Snookie-Wookie and Flopsy Bunny. She hugs him, apologizes, and begs his forgiveness. Cheryl, sweetie, don’t do that; you’re not at fault. Anyway, Reggie’s angry.

Seymour takes Cheryl away. Even Moose finds this all “very strange”. Archie, without a hint of irony, asks what Cheryl sees in “that little goof”. Betty and Veronica give each other five, pleased with themselves. Betty’s convinced Cheryl will be moving back to Seymour’s town. Ronnie suggests they go back to her place and celebrate their “victory” in style.

For Ronnie, this means eating dinner (with no utensils) in the family vault, so they can smell the money. It’s not a big deal to Betty. Their totally-not-gay candlelit-dinner woman-date is interrupted by Seymour, who barges in. Who the fuck let him in? Anyway, he ditched Cheryl, because he’s convinced himself that Ronnie has a raging lady-boner for him.

Seymour grabs Ronnie. Cheryl barges in. Who the fuck let her in? Anyway, she figured the “man-stealer” would try to lure him away. Veronica says they’re both nuts. Seymour wants the two of them to fight it out for his amusement. Cheryl’s all for it, but Ronnie doesn’t want to fight. However, that changes after Cheryl knocks over “her” mint pile of $100 bills. Seymour has a boner and encourages them to fight.

Betty’s pissed at him, and then he hits on her as well. She tells him to fuck off. Oh, yeah, the fight. There’s a lot of Ronnie pulling Cheryl’s hair. Also, Cheryl mounts Ronnie twice, the second time of which they’re literally ass to ass. Oh, yeah, we learn Cheryl loves Seymour only because he kept telling her that she does. Ronnie says that’s ridiculous, but Cheryl says he has a “weird power”. Seymour hits on Betty again.

So Betty delivers a swift uppercut, knocking off his glasses and giving him a black eye. Seymour’s like “Fuck this shit” and leaves. Cheryl calls for him to come back. Ronnie advises Cheryl to let him go, even though he’s “the only man that matters to [her]”. Ronnie reminds her of the dead guys printed on money, bringing Cheryl to tears. The two of them sit in the pile of money and start kicking it around. Betty sits down at the table, glad that she’s not rich. Oh, and at least one $100 bill gets burned in the candle flame.

This story is okay. It really doesn’t make sense why Cheryl would be so attracted to this guy, though.

Comics – Coming Distractions

Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Mike Esposito
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Editor: Scott Fulop
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom Special, No. 1
Cover Date: 1995
Length: 24 pages (including 11 pages of reprints)

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

There’s a 1-page introduction to Cheryl before the story. While she gets most of the space (in a glamour shot), Archie, Reggie, and Moose smile at her, Jughead and Veronica frown in disapproval, and Betty looks…mildly concerned.

Cheryl is walking along outside with a girl with short brown hair and glasses. The girl asks about Cheryl going to see a baseball movie with Archie. Cheryl says she’s decided to give him another chance. She references his previous fuck-up. She also refers to Betty and Veronica as a “diabolical duo”. Ronnie, standing behind some low bushes but somehow not noticed by either of them, is surprised and enraged.

Ronnie, somehow now in a clearing in the woods instead of the suburbs, makes a fist and punches in anger, accidentally punching Betty (who just shows up) and knocking her on her ass. Ronnie apologizes and says she’s really glad to see her. She helps Betty, who’s dazed but okay enough to joke about it, up. Ronnie informs Betty of Cheryl and wants to devise a plan. Betty comes up with keeping Archie busy “at all times”. That was quick – and also ineffective, considering Archie and Cheryl already have a date to see a movie.

Ronnie mails a letter and photo of herself to Archie, inviting him to the movies tonight and telling him to be at her house at 8:00 PM. Did Ronnie have that letter express delivered or something?

Betty makes Archie orgasm over her new perfume. She has him pick her up at 8:15 PM tonight for the movies.

On “D-Day” (meaning the same fucking day), Jughead finds Archie walking along. Archie explains his typical two-dates mistake, and even Jughead doesn’t think much of it at this point. Cheryl runs up to Archie and reminds him to meet her tonight at the movies. She gives him a big kiss to hold him over and leaves. Okay, wait. How did Veronica and Betty know when Archie’s date with Cheryl was? It wasn’t mentioned. Or is this just a coincidence? Anyway, Jughead asks Archie what he’s gonna do when the three girls bump into each other during the date. Somehow, this leads to a flashback to a story that the current situation really shouldn’t remind Archie of.

The next five pages are a reprint of the 1980s story, “Which is Rich“, presented as a flashback from Archie’s perspective.

Anyway, Jughead’s like “Fuck girls!”, and Archie’s like “I am!”

That night, Archie arrives at Ronnie’s at 8:00 PM, but Ronnie’s not ready, because make-up. He uses the phone to call Betty and let her know he’s running late. He wants to meet her by the snack bar. She agrees but silently wonders why he’s whispering.

At almost 8:30 PM, Ronnie’s finally ready to leave. Archie manhandles her and pulls her out the door. She’s barely able to grab her jacket. He takes off down the road like a speed demon.

In the theater lobby, Cheryl’s pissed that Archie hasn’t shown up and wonders why she’s giving him another chance. She brightens when she notices Choco-Pongs for sale at the snack bar and buys two of them to keep herself happy for a minute or two. Betty bumps into Cheryl, knocking her to the floor. Betty says “Excuse me, Miss”, not even apologizing, nor helping her up, nor looking in Cheryl’s direction, nor realizing who she hit. That’s pretty fucking rude. Cheryl, reaching for her dropped change, says it’s all right. Betty complains about Archie’s usual lateness and goes into the restroom to freshen up her make-up.

Archie arrives with Veronica and freaks out when he sees Cheryl. Ronnie somehow doesn’t see Cheryl (perhaps because she’s walking with her eyes closed). Archie takes off his jacket and puts it on their heads in the name of keeping them “cozy” in the “chilly” lobby. Ronnie says he’s insane. I would have thrown off the jacket and walked out on him. Archie orders the tickets. Cheryl, who’s nearby, somehow doesn’t recognize either of their voices. Archie parks Ronnie in a theater seat and goes to, supposedly, get nachos. He runs out and meets Cheryl. Cheryl angrily tells him that she was just about to leave. Archie puts a hand on her shoulder, apologizes to “sweets”, and hopes she’ll forgive him. She claims she never holds a grudge against a redhead.

Archie parks Cheryl in a theater seat and goes to, supposedly, get her some more Choco-Pongs. This makes Cheryl, who still hasn’t eaten her first two, happy. Archie meets up with Betty as she exits the ladies’ room, parks her in a theater seat, and goes to, supposedly, get her some candy, which makes her happy. Archie gets a shit-ton of snacks at the snack bar. Veronica, Cheryl, and Betty, each unaware of each other, are excited for the movie(s) (it’s unclear if they’re seeing different movies or the same one, but even Archie shouldn’t be that stupid).

So that baseball movie that Cheryl and Archie are seeing apparently stars an Arnold Schwarzenegger stand-in (or else they decided on a different movie). Cheryl has a lady-boner for him. Archie wants to get more candy. Cheryl protests, but Archie says he has to fatten her up. Ass. For some reason, Cheryl finds this line “smooth”. On his way out, he knocks a woman’s drink over and gets it all over her. He totally doesn’t apologize. Ass.

Archie gets nachos with cheese sauce from the snack bar and runs through the lobby, knocking a woman over. You guessed it: he doesn’t apologize. Ronnie’s pissed that he’s been gone for so long. He bullshits an explanation and gets cheese on a woman’s dog (named Pookie). He doesn’t apologize. The “romantic” movie that they’re seeing stars Warren Beatty and Shannen Doherty as the lead couple (their actual name are used), who Archie calls “a natural pair”. Veronica says Beatty is 83. He was around 57 or 58 at the time of this story and is now 82. Archie goes to, supposedly, get frozen yogurt, angering Ronnie. A character on the screen reminds Ronnie of Jason Blossom, which makes her remember something as she falls asleep.

The next six pages are a reprint of the 1980s story, “Over the Edge“, presented as a flashback from Veronica’s perspective, despite the fact that Ronnie isn’t present for the first scene between Cheryl and Archie.

Ronnie wakes up. Archie’s not back yet.

Archie arrives back in Betty’s theater. He trips over an usher and complains about it, spilling shit everywhere. Archie sits down and tells Betty to fill him in on the movie. Betty starts to (and it seems she’s seeing the same baseball movie that Archie was taking Cheryl to), but then an older woman behind her tells her to shut the fuck up. Archie claims to be thirsty and gets up to get them some soda. He starts to wonder what to bring Cheryl, but then he settles on Gummy Monks (fun fact: there was an episode of Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears where Tummi Gummi became a monk). Then the dumbass trips and bangs his head.

Archie arrives back in Cheryl’s theater. She’s angry. He calls her a nut, gives her the candy, and asks her what he missed.

Cheryl asks what happened to the Choco-Pongs. Archie face-palms. Cheryl says it’s all right and tells him to just sit. He insists on getting them for her. On his way out, he touches a child, making it cry for its mom.

In the lobby, he passes a poster for a movie called Pookie the Cat. He runs, getting dizzy, and flings frozen yogurt in a guy’s face. He tells him to enjoy it. He also knocks a flashlight out of an usher’s hand.

He gets another yogurt, enters a theater, and sweet-talks a totally-not-gay guy (who’s watching a movie about a trucker named Steve) before realizing he’s not Veronica. He runs out in a panic, leaving the yogurt, which the guy thanks him for.

Cheryl, Betty, and Ronnie simultaneously decide to visit the ladies’ room. Betty arrives first and complains about Archie. Then Veronica arrives and is surprised that she chose tonight for her date with Archie, but Betty reminds her that tonight was supposed to be her night (although we didn’t see any discussion of that earlier). Cheryl arrives and has overheard. She informs them that she’s on a date with “Knucklehead”, too. She’s pissed at Archie for daring to insult them like this. Betty clenches her fists and declares they’re gonna “show him”.

Archie can’t find Betty in her theater or Cheryl in hers (there’s an error in which a guy that was previously in Betty’s theater is now in Cheryl’s). He finds Ronnie in her theater. Veronica mentions their “good friends Betty and Cheryl” have dropped in. Betty’s sitting right next to Ronnie, and Cheryl’s sitting right next to Betty. Archie tries to leave in a panic, but Cheryl pulls him back, and the crowd encourages the girls to kick his ass. The entire theater (even the projector guys) get into it as Betty, Veronica, and Cheryl (okay, mostly Cheryl) beat the shit out of Archie on the stage in front of the screen (which is showing two actors that look nothing like Shannen Doherty and Warren Beatty).

This story is pretty fun. Typical plot, and Archie is completely insufferable, but that ass-kicking at the end is so satisfying.

According to Grand Comics Database, a decoding puzzle featuring Cheryl titled “That’s Romance!” appears between parts 1 and 2 of this story, but it’s not in the digital edition, perhaps because it’s meant to be written on. Still would have been nice to include it for archival purposes, though.

Comics – Love & War

Writers: Dan Parent (Parts I and 2), Bill Golliher (Part 3 and Four)
Pencils: Dan Parent (Parts I and 2), Bill Golliher (Part 3 and Four)
Inks: Mike Esposito
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Bill Yoshida
Original Publication: Archie’s Love Showdown Special, No. 1
Cover Date: 1994
Length: 38*** pages (13*, 14**, 5, 6)

Today, I am going to take a look at the immediate sequel to the famous “Love Showdown” storyline, “Love & War”. I’m not sure exactly when it came out (the issue seems to provide only the year). Grand Comics Database says it went on sale in November (no specific date given), which seems about right.

Before we begin, some procedural notes:

*Part I includes a 6-page reprint of a 1980s story as a flashback, making the actual story of Part I only 7 pages long.

**Part 2 includes a 5-page reprint of a 1980s story as a flashback, making the actual story of Part 2 only 9 pages long.

***That makes the entire new story only 27 pages long.

As you can tell from the above credits, they couldn’t make up their minds whether to number the parts with numbers, Roman numerals, or words. This is a common occurrence at Archie Comics.

Although I have the original issue and the trade reprint (see below), I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition, the updated cover of which, confusingly, calls it “Love Showdown, Chapter 5”. I don’t know if anything (except in-story captions) has been altered for this release, but GCDb says the print issue has a 1-page recap of “Love Showdown” preceding the story; this recap isn’t included in the digital edition.

Part I

Betty and Veronica are hanging out in Betty’s bedroom. Betty’s lying on her bed, and Ronnie’s sitting in a chair. Ethel runs into the room (I assume one of Betty’s parents let her in) and is desperate for them to deny the rumor that Cheryl’s back in town. Betty sadly confirms it. Ronnie’s just pissed. Ethel is upset over the extra competition. Veronica tells her to chill the fuck out, because it’s her and Betty’s problem now. Ethel figures Cheryl “got her claws into Archie”.

Betty says Archie chose Cheryl over them. Veronica adds he’s tired of them fighting over him. Maybe don’t do it, then? Anyway, Betty’s so pissed that she smashes a picture of Archie on her desk. Ronnie enjoys smashing another one over her knee, but Betty reminds her that this is her room. Midge knocks on the door (despite Ethel not having closed it earlier) and comes in, having heard the news and needing to “be briefed”. She says they need a “plan of attack”, so her “Moosie” doesn’t get swayed by Cheryl. For fuck’s sake. Do any girls get this insane over a “rival” girl in real life? Betty explains Cheryl used to go to Pembrooke Academy “across town”. So…Pembrooke is within Riverdale? Or at least the school is. Anyway, Ronnie adds Cheryl met them one day (she doesn’t elaborate, and we certainly didn’t see a first meeting back in the 1980s).

Ronnie says Cheryl then discovered their rivalry over Archie, and it intrigued her. Betty adds then Cheryl started getting involved in Riverdale High’s affairs. Veronica then refers to “that glorious day” when Cheryl’s father’s business needed him overseas, and Betty adds Cheryl was “whisked away, out of [their] lives”. If you think this is a reference to a specific story from the 1980s, you’re wrong; Cheryl simply stopped appearing. Anyway, Ronnie throws one of Betty’s dolls in the trash, simply because it has red hair. Betty regrets the day that she ever introduced Cheryl to “their” Archie. Veronica doesn’t wanna be reminded. Betty thought she was being hospitable but later realized it was a mistake.

The next six pages are a reprint of the 1980s story, “Fast and Loose“, presented as a flashback from Betty’s perspective, despite the fact that Betty isn’t present for all of it (though I guess Ronnie could have filled her in).

Back in the present, Ethel is pissed to learn Cheryl got “her” Jughead. Betty angrily says he was only doing it to spare Archie. Veronica says Jason turned out to be a dud. Ethel basically volunteers to be a spy by befriending Cheryl. The girls huddle, and Veronica whispers the plan, despite the fact that they’re alone in Betty’s bedroom.

Soon, Ethel, wearing a brown wig, intentionally bumps into Cheryl as she’s leaving her house. Cheryl’s upset. Pretending to be rich, Ethel says she’s Ethel Vandencourt, and her daddy “owns most of Texas”. Cheryl readily buys this. There’s a gag where a guy, passing by, gets a boner for Ethel but freaks out and runs away when he sees her face. Upon learning Ethel attends Riverdale High, Cheryl says her boyfriend goes there. Ethel tries to get Cheryl to agree Archie is “rather common”. Cheryl says she has a “personal stake” in Archie.

Cheryl says she’s showing Archie what a “real woman” is like after the shit that he’s had to put up with from Betty and Veronica. Ethel digs deeper, and Cheryl admits she’s with Archie only until “someone more challenging” comes along. That’s kinda weird. It’s like Cheryl’s treating boyfriends like personal projects that she has to work on. We can tell from the outdoor scenery that it’s fall time, even though a date clue within “Love Showdown” placed the former story in June. So are we meant to believe it took 4-5 months for Ethel and Midge to learn Cheryl’s in town? Anyway, while Ethel tries to convince Cheryl to date only her equals, there’s a background gag of a squirrel having a boner for Ethel, and there’s also a rather pointless two-panel “gag” of a girl that looks and dresses like Ethel (with the wig) walking up behind her and looking surprised. Funny?

Cheryl misinterprets Ethel’s advice and decides to transfer to Riverdale High. Ethel goes home and calls Veronica to tell her (Betty’s over at Ronnie’s as well). Ronnie lets out a “bloodcurdling scream”, scaring her parents.

Part 2

At Riverdale High, Cheryl and Archie walk along, each with an arm around the other. Betty says she’s gonna hurl. Veronica cries “The end of the world is near!” Bitch, chill. Betty insults the guys that find Cheryl attractive. Veronica cries, because she’s being ignored. Jughead comes by.

Jughead doesn’t like the way that Cheryl’s “possessed” Archie, but then he calls Archie a “lovesick puppy”, so it sounds like Cheryl’s really not to blame. Well, except for that stupid “Archie-pie” nickname that she gives him. Archie’s in such a love daze that he trips and falls down the stairs – and is oblivious to it. Ronnie says they need a new plan to “battle” Cheryl. Betty suggests trying a softer approach, because fighting fire with fire doesn’t work with Cheryl.

The next five pages are a reprint of the 1980s story, “It’s Friendship“, presented as a flashback from Betty’s perspective, despite the fact that Betty isn’t present for the final scene between Archie and Jughead.

Veronica agrees to try Betty’s “niceness” approach and throw a big party. She explains her plan as she, Betty, and Jughead run through the school hallways in search of Cheryl and Archie. I hope they get written up. When they find them, Veronica invites Cheryl and Archie to her family’s lodge for a ski weekend. Cheryl is suspicious and outright asks if this is a ploy to break them up. Veronica denies it, and Betty is secretly impressed by Ronnie’s ability to lie her ass off. Cheryl considers going. Archie thanks Veronica and Betty for being “so civil”.

Veronica makes a dumb joke, which Betty laughs at. Jughead decides to insert himself into the stupid drama by helping the girls with “an Ace up [his] sleeve” (which is actually just a suggestion, as we’ll soon see). Mind your own fucking business, asswipe.

On the “big day”, they’re getting ready to board the bus or van. Reggie is Ronnie’s ski partner. Ronnie’s pissed that Archie’s paying zero attention to her after she does a lot of hugging and kissing with “his arch rival”. Betty’s paired up with Jughead, but he substitutes Jason as her partner instead. Archie and Cheryl are pissed.

Betty’s uncertain, but Veronica and Jughead point out Archie’s reaction and encourage her to go with it, so Betty uses Jason to make Archie jealous. Cheryl’s pissed at Archie’s behavior, but Jughead’s so pleased with himself. Jughead explains his plan to Ronnie about making Archie “concerned” for Betty when he sees her with someone “nasty”. Does no one hear him talking? Anyway, Betty figures Jughead didn’t tell her his idea, because she wouldn’t have gone along with it, but she sees “the method to his madness” now. Betty pretends to fall, and Jason helps the “fair damsel”.

Jason scoops Betty up in his arms. Betty praises him, and Veronica silently encourages it. Meanwhile, Archie’s enraged.

At the lodge (the “Lodge lodge”, if you will), Jughead talks up Betty/Jason to Archie, and Cheryl wants “Archie-pie” to hit the slopes with her.

Everyone has a great time. Archie asks where Betty and Jason are. Jughead says they’re back at the lodge and implies they’re fucking, making Archie freak out.

Archie suggests going back for another run. Cheryl says they’re gonna have lunch. Archie claims to have forgotten his wallet and wants to take the lift back to get it, but it’s “down for repairs” due to Ronnie slipping the maintenance guy a $100 bill. Archie decides to run back to the lodge to get his wallet, which angers Cheryl. After being tired out and chased by a buck, Archie arrives at the lodge.

Archie opens a window to eavesdrop on Betty and Jason and misinterprets their doughnut-making dialogue as sex talk. The buck rams straight into Archie’s ass, and Betty catches Archie spying on them. Jason volunteers to set Archie free.

Jason shoves Archie, and Archie and the buck snowball down a hill and crash into a wall. At that moment, Cheryl’s been wondering what’s going on with Archie, and she asks him if he checked up on Betty. Archie stammers. Cheryl gives “Archie-pie” some time to think about things and walks off in anger. Veronica is thrilled. Jughead’s pleased. Reggie tries to hit on Cheryl.

Part 3

Archie stands up. The buck is dazed. Jason and Betty arrive on a snowmobile. Betty asks Archie if he’s okay. Archie angrily asks her if she really cares. Betty says she does. Archie’s still pissed. Jason manhandles Betty and tries to take her away. Archie claims to see through Jason’s “plan”.

Archie claims Jason saw Betty was broken up over losing him and “moved in for some easy pickings”. Betty calls him out on his arrogance. Jason calls him out on his indecisiveness regarding women. Archie believes these are “fighting words”. Jason invites Archie to try to hit him. The two of them yell at each other. Betty, who’s standing on the edge of a cliff, throws a temper tantrum and jumps up and down while yelling at them. Jason warns her to watch out, but Archie’s just pissed. Jason saves Betty’s life, and Archie shows his gratitude by punching Jason in the right eye. Betty yells at Archie.

Betty explains what was going on, but Archie claims he “didn’t notice”. Betty asks Jason if he’s okay, and Jason laughs off his black eye. Jason angrily declines Archie’s invitation to resume the fight. Betty helps Jason to the snowmobile and takes him back to the lodge, where “Nurse Betty” will show him her “best bedside manner”. Archie points at his ass and invites the buck to hit him again. The buck is confused. Reggie asks Cheryl to agree that this is “pit-i-ful”. Cheryl’s beginning to wonder what she ever saw in Archie.

Reggie knows Cheryl was in this for only the challenge. Cheryl admits it. Reggie compares it to going after Midge while risking bodily harm from Moose. Cheryl flirts with him and wants to go off with him. He takes her to the other side of the mountain.

Ronnie points out that the buck (who loves to fuck) has found a doe. Archie’s glad to still have Veronica (even though, y’know, they aren’t together currently). Veronica sees the appeal of Jason and acknowledges Betty’s “usually” pretty good taste in guys, so she declines Archie’s invite for hot chocolate to pursue Jason. She tells Archie to call her when he grows up. Jughead complains about girls and wants to go eat with Archie.

Part Four

We get a dream sequence of Riverdale in a Jetsons-style future in 2065. At the Riverdale Retirement Home, a robo-nurse tells Archie to wake up, because he has visitors. It’s Jughead and “the little lady” (that’s fucking rude) Ethel.

According to Archie’s calculations, they’ve been out-of-touch for over six decades. Jughead blames it on getting married and starting “the fast food franchise” (there’s a J*Burger on every corner). Cheryl and Reggie arrive. They’re married as well. Cheryl’s in better physical shape (although she’s missing her teeth). A trumpeter presents the Queen of England.

It’s Ronnie, who married a prince (haha, that gag has not aged well). Betty and Jason arrive. They look as youthful as ever, have a shit-ton of offspring, and are basically fucking every single day. Archie ended up all alone. Mary arrives, and Archie’s shocked she’s still alive (wow, what an ass).

Angry, Mary wakes Archie up for school. It’s the first day back in school after the ski trip. Archie starts talking about Betty and Jason’s potential grandkids, and Mary, misunderstanding, chastises herself for not sending chaperones on the trip. Archie picks up a picture of Betty, says she’s the one and only girl for him, and declares he has to tell her before it’s too late.

Soon, at Riverdale High, Archie asks Jughead for directions to Betty. Archie finds Betty and asks her where Jason is. It turns out that Betty almost gave him another black eye for some unexplained (but unangelic) reason. Betty, being a fucking idiot, finds it funny that Veronica lost interest in him soon after. Before Archie can tell Betty how he feels, a random girl interrupts him.

The girl is Savannah Smythe (who may or may not be related to Bingo Wilkin’s girlfriend, Samantha Smythe). Ms. Grundy had sent her to him, apparently playing up his looks (because she’s like that). Anyway, she expects Archie to show her around, and Archie performs his “civic duty”, blowing Betty off (so I guess she won’t be blowing him anytime soon). Betty’s pissed, and Veronica shows up for the final panel to agree with her. Cheryl pulls back the final panel to offer a comment. The end.

This story was slightly better than “Love Showdown”. Just slightly. Maybe. The artwork is more consistent, at least. Most of the characters are still assholes, though. Cheryl and even Jason are the only ones that aren’t.

This special has been referred to as, basically, Cheryl Blossom Special, No. 0, but I disagree. There’s relatively little Cheryl in it, apart from the flashbacks. It’s mostly the other (insecure) girls overreacting to her simply being around.

As already mentioned in my previous post, here’s where you can find the story in collected form.

Comics – It’s Friendship

Writer: Frank Doyle*
Pencils: Dan DeCarlo Jr.*
Inks: Jim DeCarlo*
Colors: Barry Grossman*
Letters: Bill Yoshida*
Original Publication: Archie, No. 325
Cover Date: September, 1983
Length: 5 pages

*I don’t have the original issue and am reviewing this story from the digital version of Archie’s Love Showdown Special, No. 1 (1994), which is, confusingly, called “Love Showdown, Chapter 5”. I don’t know if anything was censored or otherwise altered for this reprint. The story might originally be uncredited. The credits come from Grand Comics Database (citing Archie 75th Anniversary Digest, No. 9) and may or may not be accurate.

Cheryl is driving along when she comes across Archie and Betty, the latter of which is picking flowers from a bush on someone’s lawn. So I guess this is Betty’s house (or, at least, I hope it is). What’s weird is Cheryl is standing in her convertible. Is she driving like that, or could she just not wait to get out of her car before standing up straight? Anyway, Cheryl makes fun of “Little Mary Sunshine” and offers herself to Archie as the “spice” alternative to Betty’s “sugar”. Betty asks Cheryl why she has such as mean mouth (note: Betty’s flowers disappear for the rest of the story after this panel with no explanation). Cheryl says “Why, bless my soul, honey chil’!” That…sounds really weird. One thing that I absolutely do not imagine Cheryl being is Southern. Oh, and it seems Cheryl started the trend of wearing yoga pants, judging by the prominence of her very shapely ass.

Anyway, Cheryl keeps piling on the “insults” of Betty being sweet, pissing her off. Y’know, Cheryl’s going on about it wrong, but she does have a point: Betty is a bit too unrealistically sweet and caring at times. Anyway, Archie suggests he and Betty leave, but Betty refuses, because she wants to insult Cheryl, which pisses her off. Oh, we learn the full name of Cheryl’s school is the Pembrooke Academy for Young Ladies and Gentlemen. After hearing some of Betty’s insults, Archie thinks she (or both she and Cheryl) is nuts.

Archie yells at them to shut the fuck up. Cheryl tells Archie to shut the fuck up and makes an awesome E.R.A. joke. After Cheryl yells at Archie some more, Betty yells at Cheryl. Cheryl insults her. Archie screams at both of them that they’re being childish. He asks them if they’ve ever considered being friends. Cheryl is open to it.

Betty is surprised at that. Cheryl re-affirms it to “sweetums”, but she’s open to it only because she doesn’t consider Betty to be competition. Betty’s stunned at that. Archie “tries” to “stick up” for Betty by admitting Betty doesn’t turn him on all of the time. Betty flips her shit and suggests Archie not try to help. Archie is, of course, clueless as to why she’s angry. Cheryl continues on about Betty’s qualities, adding she’s dull.

Cheryl and Betty get into a pissing contest over who can be more “entertaining” at a movie. Hmmm, why don’t the two of you go out on a date together and put it to the test? Cheryl gets in a funny insult: “You’re about as entertaining as a shot of novocaine!” Archie’s like “Fuck this shit” and goes to Pop’s to complain to Jughead about women.

This story is pretty cute, although it’s pretty similar to an earlier one. Friendship between Betty and Cheryl will have to wait.

This story was reprinted as a flashback within the “Love & War” story in Archie’s Love Showdown Special, No. 1, in 1994.

Comics – Love Showdown

Writers: Dan Parent (Parts I and III), Bill Golliher (Parts II and IV)
Pencils: Stan Goldberg (Parts I and IV), Doug Crane (Part II), Dan DeCarlo (Part III)
Inks: Henry Scarpelli (Part I and IV), Ken Selig (Part II), Alison Flood (Part III)
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Bill Yoshida
Original Publication: Archie, No. 429; Betty, No. 19; Betty and Veronica, No. 82; Veronica, No. 39
Cover Date: November, December, 1994
Length: 43 pages (11, 11, 11, 10)

Today, I am going to take a look at a famous storyline (or at least the one that Archie Comics keeps bringing up whenever it gets a chance), “Love Showdown”. It wasn’t the company’s first inter-title crossover. It wasn’t even Archie’s first hyped epic storyline; “Jughead’s Baby Tales” started earlier that year and was over twice as long (but confined to two special issues). But it did usher in what is my fondest era of Archie Comics.

Before we begin, some procedural notes:

Each part is split into two chapters, 6 and 5 pages each, respectively. Therefore, each part took up only about half of the space of the issue that it appeared in; the other stories in the issues are unrelated.

Although I have the original issues and both trade reprints (see below), I’m reviewing this story from the digital editions of each individual part, the updated covers of which, confusingly, refer to each part as a “chapter”. I don’t know if anything (except in-story captions) has been altered for this release.

Part I

Chapter 1

Jughead and Betty watch Archie walking along the sidewalk in a love daze. Jughead guesses it was Veronica, which upsets Betty. She’s surprised Veronica’s gotten to Archie so early in the morning. Veronica comes over, asking what she’s talking about, but Betty’s pissed at her.

Veronica wants to know what the fuck Betty’s talking about. Betty explains. Veronica says she hasn’t seen Archie today, which surprises Betty. Veronica usually goes after Archie after lunch. They decide to get to the bottom of this. They catch up with Archie and “demand” to know why he’s acting this way. Veronica wants to murder the mystery girl. Archie, still in a daze, is coherent enough to mention he got a letter from the girl, who likes him.

Betty wants Veronica to grab the letter (um, no, that’s an invasion of privacy), but the wind blows it out of Archie’s hand. They chase after it. Veronica almost has it, but the dumbass doesn’t look where she’s running and falls down a manhole. Betty tells Ronnie to grab her hand, but Ronnie loses her grip on the pavement and falls completely in.

A worker helps Ronnie out. Fortunately, she had landed ass-first on his head. Somehow having managed to not lose sight on the letter, they follow it to the dock and out to water. Veronica declares rich girls down play hopscotch. She falls into shallow water. Betty follows the letter to a beach clean-up crew.

The letter lands in a barrel of burning trash and is burned, much to Betty’s horror. Betty decides they’ll ask Archie straight out about the author of the letter.

Unfortunately, Fred comes outside and has Archie clean out the garage right fucking now. Having absolutely no time to say a girl’s name (which is shorter than his apology and goodbye to the girls), he goes into the garage, driving the girls crazy. It was all an act, though. As Archie explains to his dad, he just needs to keep Betty and Veronica in suspense a bit longer. He declares the fun is just the beginning.

Chapter 2

Jughead and Hot Dog show up at Archie’s. Jughead says Betty and Veronica are going crazy over that letter. Archie finds it funny and flattering. Jughead knows the identity of the author of the letter. Archie says it’ll make the girls flip their shit. Archie says he’s “toyed” with them long enough and will tell them tomorrow.

Later, Reggie finds Jughead, who’s about to go to Pop’s, and brings up how Betty and Veronica are pissed over “some letter”. Jughead says Archie’s gonna straighten it out. This gives Reggie an idea. Ronnie walks by. Reggie “accidentally” “reveals” Betty as the author of the letter. Veronica’s pissed, believing Betty burned the letter and played innocent. She stalks off to find Betty.

Later, Reggie tells Betty, as she walks by, that Ronnie wrote the letter. Betty’s surprised but then gets furious when she remembers she suspected Ronnie originally, and she claims Archie had “that Lodge look in his eyes”. Okay. She goes off to find Ronnie. Reggie is happy that “the seeds have been planted”.

Veronica and Betty confront each other on the street and break up. Archie comes by, completely pleased with himself that he’s about to “end the suspense”. The girls cut him off, because they “already know”. The girls yell at Archie and each other a bit more and then leave in opposite directions, leaving Archie confused.

Archie comes into Pop’s and complains to Jughead, who’s about to bite into his first burger, about women. The girls each arrive at their respective homes, complaining about each other, look at photos of Archie, and vow to get Archie for herself.

Part II

Chapter 1

Alice finds Betty in her bedroom, throwing out all of her photos of Veronica. Somehow, Caramel (her cat) is able to sleep soundly on her bed. The artwork is noticeably different here – and not for the better. Not only do the faces look kind of weird, but there’s no sense of depth, so it looks like Betty’s bed is just a blanket on the floor. Anyway, Alice takes issue with what Betty’s doing, and Betty claims it’s because she’s not a little kid anymore.

Betty takes the garbage bag out of her room and asks her dad to throw them out. Alice tells Hal to stick them in the garage in case this blows over. Betty is adamant that it won’t. Alice asks what happened. Betty explains. Apparently, Veronica had previously actually done exactly what Betty is now accusing her of doing.

Betty dumps all of the outfits that she’s borrowed from Veronica in a wheelbarrow and takes them to Lodge Manor. Smithers informs “Ms. Lodge” that “Ms. Cooper” is here to see her, which shocks Betty. Veronica is “really too busy” and tells Smithers to contribute something from the closet to Betty’s “charity drive” (I guess Veronica can see the main hall from her bedroom via video camera?). Betty’s pissed. She dumps the clothes on the floor, stomps her foot, grabs the phone, and yells at Veronica about these being Veronica’s clothes. Veronica has Smithers send them out to be cleaned, further angering Betty.

Later, at home, Betty’s sitting in the armchair with donuts and a drink. Alice asks her if she’s still upset. Betty asks why she’s asking. Alice says the TV’s not on. To Betty’s disbelief, Hal presents her with a pair of tickets to cheer her up.

His boss gave them to him. They’re for the Lodge Foundation’s Summer Charity Dance next week. This upsets Betty. Hal suggests asking Archie to go with her. For some reason, Betty agrees to do so. Unfortunately, there’s a problem with Archie’s car, and he can’t fix it. Betty’s free tomorrow and offers to come over and look at it. Archie won’t be home. That’s okay with Betty, but she has him promise to go to the next dance with her next Saturday.

Betty’s pleased with herself, but Archie’s confused, since Veronica invited him to a Lodge Foundation dance tomorrow night. He guesses maybe they’re having one next week, too.

The next day, Betty’s sitting at the kitchen table, reading the manual for Archie’s Mustang. Hal says he could use a brake job, which Betty totally does not agree to do. Alice asks “Whatever happened to the helpless act?” Betty’s like “This is the ’90s, bitch!”

Betty grabs a toolbox and heads over to Archie’s. Alice jokingly wonders if the hospital gave them Mr. Goodwrench’s baby by mistake.

At Archie’s, Betty starts working on the car. Veronica comes over, pissed, and says she’s got “dibs” on Archie tonight.

Chapter 2

Betty’s pissed that Archie has plans with Veronica. Ronnie sends Archie inside to get ready. Betty vaguely threatens the car might not be ready, but Veronica brought her own car and driver. She insults Betty, further pissing her off.

After questioning Veronica, Betty learns tonight is the one and only dance. Betty’s tickets are dated the 25th (which would technically place this story in June, which is consistent with the characters apparently not being in school), but they were printed with the incorrect date, and Veronica had donated them to Hal’s office, figuring Betty would get them. Wow, that’s convoluted and relies on a lot of luck. Rather than suspecting Ronnie, Betty shrugs it off and just says she can’t quit the car repair now.

Archie comes out in his tux. Veronica compliments his appearance. Archie hates to leave Betty here doing this and asks if she wants to come back tomorrow. Betty would rather finish up now and tells Archie to have a good time. As they ride off, Veronica gets in a parting insult at Betty. As she continues working on Archie’s car, Betty laments her life.

On the way to the dance, Archie brings up the tickets, and Veronica keeps up the vague “misprinted” story.

Soon, Betty’s got Archie’s car running and praises herself. Since Archie’s not going to “thank” her, Betty decides to go down to Pop’s and treat herself to an extra-thick shake.

At Pop’s, Betty sits alone at a table with a (presumably) vanilla shake. Jughead walks by and asks what’s wrong. He joins her. Betty explains and pulls out the tickets (why was she carrying tickets for next Saturday in her shorts?). Jughead examines them and says he was at the copy center when Veronica got these printed up (the sheer number of coincidences in this part are astounding). Betty’s shocked.

Jughead says he heard Veronica asking them to print some with a different date on them. Betty’s momentarily confused but then pieces it together, even though it relies on a lot of luck (as I’ve already mentioned). Betty’s pissed. Jughead tells her to fight back. Betty stands up and loudly declares “There’s a new Betty Cooper coming out! Right now!!” Good for you, sweetie. Just wait until the end of the story; your one true love will be arriving soon enough. Jughead starts to comment about “that look in [her] eyes”, but Betty vows she’s got a dance to crash and heads for the door. Jughead cheers her on and asks if he can have the rest of her malted.

Part III

Chapter 1

At the dance, Veronica is having a good time, but Archie feels bad about leaving Betty behind to fix his car. Veronica says Betty “loves that menial labor stuff”. Suddenly, Veronica notices three guys going gaga over someone other than her, so of course she’s pissed.

It’s Betty. Archie and Ronnie are shocked. Betty’s wearing a tiny blue dress that barely covers her ass. Veronica tells her to get the fuck out, because she doesn’t have a ticket. Betty says Mr. Lodge let her in as a friend of the family. Veronica insults Betty’s “tacky” dress, but it’s actually a hand-me-down from Veronica (wait, I thought Betty returned all of the clothes that Ronnie had given her), and Betty “just took it in a little”. Veronica says the dress is sized for a pre-schooler. Veronica wants confirmation from Archie that the dress is “tasteless”, but Archie has a massive boner for Betty.

So do the other guys. Veronica drags Archie away from “Goldilocks”, but Betty starts dancing to a song that she loves, and all of the guys watch her. One of them even says she should be a dancer. Betty takes turns dancing with the guys, and they argue over her. Veronica’s pissed at Archie for staring at Betty.

After the dance, Betty is still “wired” and invites Archie to go for a “round” with her. He accepts. This is Veronica’s worst nightmare.

Veronica joins in, trash-talking Paula Abdul. Betty effortlessly does a split. Veronica tries and ends up injuring herself and tearing her skirt. Meanwhile, Betty does a “complete” somersault. Veronica complains it’s unfair, since Betty’s more of a gymnast than her. She tries to do a somersault…

…but trips and lands in a punch bowl on top of a table…somehow. Ronnie’s embarrassed in front of guys and demands Archie help her. He’s with Betty. Pissed, Ronnie leaves, upsetting Archie but pleasing Betty.

Outside, Veronica wonders how this could happen and if she’s “losing it”. She considers taking “some new steps in keeping Archie”.

Chapter 2

One day, at Lodge Manor, Veronica has freaked her dad out by making a mess of the kitchen and filling it with smoke while trying to bake some chocolate chip muffins for Archie. Mr. Lodge asks why she didn’t have Chef Pierre do it for her. Since Betty’s “honing in on [her] glamorous territory”, Veronica has decided to pick up some of Betty’s “Archie-grabbing domestic traits”.

Mr. Lodge admires Veronica’s wanting to cook but says it’s for the wrong reasons. Veronica admits she made a mess but says it’ll be worth it.

Veronica goes out looking for Archie and is upset when she finds him with Betty in the park. Veronica insults her outfit (Betty’s wearing red overalls over a black-and-white-striped shirt). It’s Betty’s “new look” (more like her old look). Veronica presents the muffins to “Archiekins”. Betty’s angrily says those are her “special muffins”. What, does Betty think she has a monopoly on chocolate chip muffins? Anyway, Veronica offers Archie a taste, and he’s nervous.

Feeling he has no choice, Archie accepts – but has difficulty biting the muffin. Veronica excuses this as her muffins being a bit more “rugged” than Betty’s “sissy” muffins. Archie tries breaking the muffin against a rock. Betty offers to get a jackhammer. Veronica’s impatient. Archie breaks his tooth. Betty takes Archie to a dentist, not allowing Veronica to take him.

Veronica throws out her muffins. Jughead admonishes her and calls her muffins “perfect”. However, he’s taking them for his dad to use in a stone wall that he’s building (they ran out of stones). Veronica hits him in the head with a muffin and tells him to get out of her life forever. Veronica loses confidence in herself. Reggie comes by and asks about Veronica’s “Betty Crocker get-up” (which it isn’t at all). Veronica explains. Reggie explains Betty’s “tough girl act” was Betty just trying to be Veronica. Um, two things: 1) Betty in no way resembled a “tough girl”, and 2) I figured Ronnie already figured Betty was imitating her, hence Ronnie imitating Betty.

Reggie vows to get Ronnie “back into shape”, so she can “fight fire with fire”. Ronnie’s eager to be Reggie’s “ruthless student”.

Part IV

Chapter 1

At Lodge Manor, Reggie’s sitting on the couch, watching baseball, and having Ronnie doing stupid shit like walking, saying a rhyme, and balancing a book on her head. Ronnie’s skeptical and thinks Reggie’s nuts.

Ronnie throws the book at Reggie’s head, but he ducks. Veronica’s pissed, and Reggie declares success. For some reason, Veronica thought Betty had caused her to lose her edge, but she still has it.

Reggie has Ronnie watch a VHS tape of a Dirty Dancing stand-in to learn some moves. Ronnie’s skeptical because of the age of the film, but, by Reggie’s logic, speeding up the dance moves makes them all new. Works for Ronnie.

A few hours later, Ronnie’s worn out the tape but is convinced she’s ready. She thinks she’s “the first Lodge in three generations to actually break a sweat”. Veronica heads off to Pop’s to “restake [her] claim to Archie”. Reggie wishes his “unfair lady” luck.

At Pop’s, Jughead’s eating a cheeseburger, and Betty’s teaching Archie to dance.

Veronica rushes in and tells Betty that Mrs. Johnson’s cat is stuck up in the tree, having kittens, and Mrs. Johnson is asking for Betty. After some cluelessness from Archie (and clarifications from the girls), Betty grabs her purse and rushes off to check. Citing the warmth, Ronnie decides to take off her coat, and Archie helps her.

Ronnie’s wearing a very short, sparkly blue dress. Archie gets a boner. Ronnie wants to dance.

Later, Betty returns to Pop’s, exhausted. Apparently, Betty knows more than one Mrs. Johnson and didn’t bother to find out who the fuck Ronnie was talking about, so she checked with all of them (and even a few Mr. Johnsons, because she likes to waste time, I guess). Betty’s shocked that Archie’s not here. Ronnie explains she wore him out, and Jughead and Dilton had to carry him home. Betty says they had a date tonight and is pissed that Ronnie set this up.

They argue. Betty challenges Veronica to a duel. Ronnie is unclear what Betty means. Betty means Super Soakers at high noon tomorrow in Pickens Park. Veronica agrees and stipulates fresh hairdos. Betty agrees. They trash-talk some more. Pop now knows how those Wild West saloon keepers felt.

Chapter 2

Note: Unlike every other chapter in the single-part digital editions that I’ve been reading, the credits for this chapter are intact.

The next day, at 11:57 AM, in Pickens Park, Veronica (in a new hairdo and designer outfit) and Reggie have arrived. Veronica thanks him for offering to referee the duel. Reggie plans to give the loser some of his “heavy-duty consoling”. Betty (in a new hairdo and designer outfit) shows up. She’d just stopped off at Macy’s Lacey’s Department Store for a full makeover. Veronica does some trash-talking.

The girls are ready. Reggie says he’s going to count off five paces, and then they’ll turn and fire. They trash-talk some more. Ronnie calls Betty a “Peroxide Pollyanna”, which is awesome. Reggie starts counting. Archie arrives with someone. At 5, the girls turn and fire, soaking Archie and who he’s with.

Betty and Veronica are shocked. Pissed, Archie says he was going to tell them that Cheryl and her family moved back to town. An angry Cheryl wrings out her shirt and says Veronica and Betty are still as immature as ever (she’s totally right). Betty apologizes to Cheryl. Ronnie asks Cheryl when she moved back. Cheryl says yesterday and adds she wrote Archie a few weeks ago, but she asked him to keep it quiet until she knew for sure. Betty and Veronica realize Cheryl wrote the letter.

Reggie gets a boner for Cheryl and assumes she remembers him. Cheryl gets a bit friendly with Reggie and asks how he’s been. Cheryl claims she’d love to stay and chat with the girls all day, but she might catch her death of cold. Angry, Betty says they can’t have that. Walking away, Cheryl suggests Archie date someone more mature. Walking after her, Archie casts an angry glance back at Betty and Veronica and says he thinks he’s made a decision. Reggie can’t believe Archie chose Cheryl Blossom. That’s not exactly what Archie said; he said he “think[s]” he’s made a decision, because even he realizes he’s an indecisive fuckwaffle. Veronica declares the war may be over, and Betty declares the war has just begun.

It’s worth noting there are only four panels on the final page, covering 2/3rds of the page. I don’t know what originally went in the rest of the space, and Grand Comics Database isn’t helpful. In the first trade collection (see below), there was an ad for the Archie Americana series. I don’t know what was in that spot in the second trade collection and don’t feel like digging it out from wherever I’ve got it stashed. In the digital edition of this chapter, they moved artwork of Archie putting up a wall poster of Cheryl as Veronica and Betty look on (which was originally printed on the inside-back cover of the first trade, below the credits) to the bottom of the final page of the story.

So that’s the famous “Love Showdown” storyline. Overall, it’s pretty stupid and relies on jealousy, coincidences, and a lack of communication. Archie, Reggie, Betty, and Veronica are a bunch of assholes, and neither of the first two get called out on their bullshit. Cheryl ends up being the nicest person in the story.

There’s also the less-than-stellar artwork in Part II. When read together, it’s definitely noticeable, although it’s not as bad as in some cases.

The story has been collected twice. The first time was in 1994. There’s an introduction by Paul Castiglia that gives a probably somewhat exaggerated account of the origin of the storyline. The news was featured in USA Today, and fans swarmed Archie Comics at a con in excitement, wondering who Archie who choose. I have the second printing of this one, dated August of 1999.

The second time was in October of 2012. This edition includes the sequels. I have this one as well.

Even more recently, the stories in the 2012 collection were reprinted in digest format (along with the “Battle of the BFFs” storyline) in Archie 75th Anniversary Digest, No. 9 on May 10, 2017 (cover-dated June), so check that out if you want, in essence, a Cheryl Digest (which, actually, would not be a bad idea).

So, yeah, “Love Showdown” is pretty dumb, but it brought Cheryl back. Here’s an excerpt from a five-part essay called “Inside Archie Comics Publications” (a.k.a. “The Inside Scoop”) by Jeffrey C. Branch, which I saved to my hard drive back on August 30, 2000:

“The premise of this crossover was dirt simple: the end of the Eternal Triangle. The madness began in Archie #429 (November 1994) when a lovesick Archie received a letter from a girl from his past who was returning to Riverdale. That alone got fans from coast to coast wondering just who the mystery woman could be. … The return of Cheryl Blossom to the Archie Universe was a shocker to Archie fans worldwide as she was perhaps the LAST person Archie fans ever expected to see again. Normally, when a character is eliminated from the Archie cast, and many have been over the decades, more often than not, he or she never comes back. One prevalent theory regarding Cheryl’s return was that a foil was needed to keep Archie from choosing between Betty and Veronica as part of the Love Showdown plot, to which end, Cheryl was rescued from oblivion by the editors to serve that purpose.”

Okay, just about everything in that statement is an exaggeration. The letter wasn’t specifically stated to be from a girl from Archie’s past. I doubt many (if any) readers were shocked by Cheryl’s return. Younger readers wouldn’t remember her. Older and younger readers alike would have been seeing her in digests, probably not realizing the stories were reprints. Also, Cheryl was never officially sent away back in the 1980s; she just stopped appearing (in new stories) after two years (with the exception of being a recurring character in the 1990-1991 series, Archie’s Explorers of the Unknown). There was no actual need to have a “Cheryl returns” storyline; just have her start appearing again. Finally, no one was needed to prevent Archie from choosing between Betty and Veronica, because Archie’s an indecisive fuckwaffle. This was a publicity stunt, pure and simple.

Still, “Love Showdown” is an important milestone in Archie Comics history. It ushered in what I refer to as the Silver Age of Cheryl (the 1980s being the Golden Age). It continued to be name-dropped by Archie Comics (sometimes undeservedly so) for years to come, and it did lead to a lot of great Cheryl stories, so there’s that.