Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)
Pencils: Holly G!
Inking: Rudy Lapick
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 23
Cover Date: June, 1999
Length: 17 pages
I’m reviewing another comic story today in order to devote extra time to the 1990 movie review, which I hope to post next week.
Today, I’m reviewing a three-part story from Cheryl Blossom’s solo title, which ran for nearly four years from April of 1997 to March of 2001 (cover dates), totaling 37 issues. This is in addition to four earlier miniseries, so, all told, girl has 50 issues to her name. Not too shabby!
Cheryl’s series follows her life at home, at Pembrooke Academy (more on that below), at her job (she ran a teen magazine called “Fresh” during this time), and elsewhere.
I first discovered Cheryl’s solo title with issue #20 in late December of 1998 while in Orlando, and that started up a period of Archie collecting for me. I had already been familiar with the character (well, insofar as “she’s one of Archie’s girls and has a brother named Jason”) from one other story (as a reprint in my very first Archie digest), but this was my opportunity to learn more about her. Needless to say, I became a Cheryl Blossom fan for life.
The story that I’m reviewing today is a three-parter totaling 17 pages (that’s, like, an epic by Archie standards, or at least it was back then) called “Friendly Fire” from Cheryl Blossom, No. 23, from June of 1999 (cover date). The premise?
Yeah, if you don’t know by now, Cheryl isn’t usually friends with the Riverdale gang – except when she is. Whether she is or not depends on the writer, but her gradual integration into the gang began here, and instances of Betty and Cheryl being on friendly terms could still be seen over a decade later.
Oh, yeah, Pembrooke. Archie Comics has been inconsistent over what Pembrooke actually is. It might be a separate town from Riverdale. However, a four-part story called “Queen B” in 2011 had Cheryl attending Pembrooke Academy but specifically living in Riverdale, giving the impression that Pembrooke was an exclusive community within Riverdale. However, there was a Pembrooke Mall, which Betty and Veronica shopped at for whatever reason. The story was weird in general, and no elements from it seem to have made any lasting impression, so it looks like it’s been quietly ignored, which is probably for the best.
Also, Cheryl has sometimes attended Riverdale High, such as from 2003 to 2008, when her family had lost money and was merely upper-middle class instead of filthy fucking rich. However, there have been other instances of her attending Riverdale High (sometimes explained). However, as the Classic Archieverse was winding down in 2015, Cheryl was attending Riverdale High for no apparent reason, giving the impression that the writers had quietly dropped Pembrooke Academy. Indeed, the conclusion of “Freshman Year: The Missing Chapters” in 2010 had Cheryl transferring to Riverdale High in ninth grade. Of course, “Queen B” stepped all over that less than a year later. “Afterlife with Archie” has her at Pembrooke Academy (well, before the zombie apocalypse). “Life with Archie: The Married Life” had her at Riverdale High. New Riverdale continuity has her at Pembrooke Academy. The upcoming “Riverdale” TV series has her at Riverdale High.
However, in this story that I’m about to review right now, Cheryl attends Pembrooke Academy – except she’s not seen doing so in the story itself, because it’s a summer story. Onward!
Part 1 (pages 01-06)
In a television studio for “Cable 82”, Veronica and Betty, in front of a live studio audience, welcome their viewers to “The New Veronica and Betty Teen Talk Show” (or just “Teen Talk”). A footnote humorously reveals it’s a cable access show that premiered in Betty and Veronica, No. 130, not that it fucking matters. It’s not as if we need to know that in order to understand this story.
Anyway, Veronica and Betty have decided to have “interesting local teens” as guests on their show. The first of these guests is Cheryl Blossom. The audience claps and whistles as Cheryl comes out.
Veronica is suspiciously happy to have Cheryl as their guest. Betty calls Cheryl an “active teen” and prompts Veronica to ask her “special question” of Cheryl. Cheryl suggests to “Miss Lodge” the subjects of her teen mag, acting career, and rock star fame, only the first of which is legit. Veronica wants to know the “real” Cheryl. Cheryl admits she’s a “unique individual”.
Then Veronica drops her bombshell, accusing Cheryl of lying about her hair color and offering photographic “proof” of Cheryl’s brown hair and dye job. Cheryl is furious. Betty is aghast. Veronica admits to Betty that she’s doing this out of revenge for Cheryl constantly stealing her spotlight. Cheryl gets up and runs off the stage in tears, calling Veronica horrible. Betty angrily says she’ll have no part of this, runs after Cheryl, and apologizes. However, Cheryl runs out of the television studio, gets in her limo, and tells Jamie (her chauffeur) to take her home.
Back in the studio, Betty finds Veronica in a private room, watching the tape of the show and laughing. Betty is furious, and Veronica further pisses her off by suggesting she start wearing her hair down to hide her “way big” ears. Betty declares Veronica’s gone too far and confiscates the tape. She decides to go over to Cheryl’s to apologize for Veronica’s “horrendous” behavior, which is of no concern to Veronica.
At the Blossom estate, Betty buzzes at the gate. She has to state her name and then learns she’s on “Master Jason’s” “always let in” list.
Jason is buzzed in his room and informed Betty has arrived. He meets her in a hallway. As they take a transparent elevator to Cheryl’s floor, Betty explains the situation.
However, Cheryl is crying and angry and doesn’t want to see Betty. Her dog, a cute Pomeranian named Sugar Blossom, is mad at Betty, too.
Part 2 (pages 07-12)
Betty gives Cheryl the tape and explains she stopped the interview from airing, but she wishes she could do more to make it up to Cheryl. Betty’s sweetness gives Jason a boner. Cheryl thanks Betty for the tape and says she would have “just died” if even more people saw it. Betty suggests a great big strawberry shake at Pop’s, and Jason hopes to come along. Cheryl doesn’t want to show her face in public, but Betty insists no one will believe what they saw, because “they all know Ronnie can pull a fast one”. Cheryl agrees, much to Betty’s delight. Jason asks if he’s coming. Cheryl says yes, because he’s paying, which amuses Betty and delights Jason.
At Pop’s, Cheryl, Betty, and Jason sit in a booth (Jason sits next to Betty and across from Cheryl), and Jason orders three strawberry shakes, which destroys the possibility of a twist on the classic “three on a soda” image.
Archie arrives, and Cheryl ducks behind the table in horror, because Archie was in the studio audience. Archie is sympathetic and doesn’t believe Veronica’s stunt, so Cheryl pretends she was looking for an earring and then gets close to Archie and thanks him (which Betty doesn’t mind in the slightest). Jason asks his “ol’ pal” Archie to pick up their shakes from the counter and get one for himself on him. Archie thanks him and orders a vanilla shake. Get it? Betty and Blossoms are fun, and Archie is bland.
Veronica arrives and greets “Archiekins”, but Archie goes off on her and doesn’t accept Veronica’s “excuse”.
As the newly-formed group of friends enjoy their shakes (Jughead’s eating a burger in the next booth), Veronica tries to downplay her stunt, but Betty and Cheryl make fuck eyes at each other and discuss the deliciousness of their shakes while ignoring Veronica, so Veronica storms out of Pop’s, furious.
The next day, Betty gets two calls (she has call waiting). She accepts Cheryl’s offer to come over and use her tanning room but rejects Veronica’s offer to comes along for a sale at the mall – and lets her know exactly who she has plans with.
Later in the day, Betty is impressed with Cheryl’s tanning room. She had been expecting a tanning bed, but Cheryl has an entire fucking indoor beach (she prefers realism)! The girls have fun, and Cheryl admits this is the first time that she ever had a “friend” share her sun room. Ooh, no build-up to it; Cheryl already considers Betty to be her friend.
Then that fucker Jason barges in, wearing designer swimming trunks with Betty’s face, her name, and hearts on it. Instead of being weirded out, Betty is amused. Cheryl declares he’s “goofy but lovable”, and she and Betty have a laugh over it, which shocks Jason.
Betty ends up spending a lot of time with her new BFF, being out with Cheryl every time that Veronica calls. Alice informs “Ronnie” that they’ve been spending a lot of time together lately. Examples include Betty and Cheryl rollerblading in the park and sharing a drink with Archie at Pop’s (with lot of love all around). Of course, Jason gets an extra straw, hoping to get in on the action. A sad Veronica thanks Alice and sighs.
Part 3 (pages 13-17)
The Cherylification of Betty is now complete. Betty is now wearing a shirt with a giant blossom on it as well as a blossom choker. Cheryl and Betty’s outfits in this scene were designed by Heather Solomon of Sheridan, Indiana.
Anyway, Cheryl thanks Betty for treating her to the movies, and Betty is glad that it was better than the last one that they saw. Cheryl was thinking of throwing a party this weekend, and Betty’s down for that. It gets even better when Cheryl reveals it will be in honor of Betty. Cheryl will invite the kids from Pembrooke. Betty asks permission to invite the Riverdale gang but then wonders about inviting Veronica. The two of them simultaneously decide the fuck with her.
The next day, Cheryl’s thinking up ideas for the party, wanting to make it a party that Betty will remember. Cheryl’s outfit in this scene was designed by, amusingly, Cheryl Jones of Texas. Cheryl needs “top-notch entertainment” and decides on the band that she sees on a “Spun” magazine cover, “Whole Thing“. She calls up Gruffin Records and not-so-subtlely lets them know whose daddy is boss. When that doesn’t work, Cheryl flips her shit and threatens the dude over the phone. Gig secured.
On Saturday night, it’s like a fucking Hollywood premiere at the “Cheryl’s Friendly Bash”. Yeah, even though this party is supposedly in honor of Betty, Cheryl did have to insert her name into the title.
Betty, Archie, Jughead, and Reggie encounter three of Cheryl’s classmates on the red carpet. I believe two of them are Bunny and Cedric, but I don’t know who the other girl is. Anyway, the three of them make fun of the “peasants”.
Once inside the mansion, Cheryl welcomes them to the “Cheryl Blossom’s Friendly Bash” and invites them to “eat, dance and be merry”. Reggie pulls Bunny to dance.
Cheryl gets on the stage and introduces the band. The band starts playing, and
Courtney Love unnamed blonde woman starts singing.
Betty and Cheryl take Bunny and Reggie having a good time as harmony between Pembrooke and Riverdale. Cheryl is suspicious of a “strangely familiar” maid that she’s never seen before. As Veronica takes off her disguise, a shocked Cheryl calls for the band to stop the music.
Veronica offers a tearful apology to Cheryl and doesn’t blame the gang for not hanging out with her, because she wouldn’t want to hang out with her either. She then cries and runs off.
Veronica’s apology has affected Archie – but Betty even more so, because she gives chase. For whatever reason, Cheryl considers this “Ronnie” stealing “half” of her guests. Bunny puts down the “mallrats” and then accuses Cheryl of having fake nails (I guess hair and nails are the worst fake things that a girl can have in these comics). An outraged Cheryl orders the “catty creeps” out.
Cheryl wonders if this is the thanks that she gets for being a good friend. That fucking pig, Jughead, is stretched out on a table, having eaten tons of food and making a spectacular mess. He thanks Cheryl for being a good friend and burps. Cheryl replies to Jughead and sighs.
I love this story! It’s one of my favorites and forever included in my personal canon.
That said, it isn’t perfect. The ending is rushed. Betty goes running back to Veronica too easily, and she doesn’t even excuse herself from her bestie’s party in her honor. Also, the quick ending causes some confusion on the final page, making it seem as if most of the rest of the Riverdale gang followed Betty out the door between panels, and then the entire Pembrooke gang was supposedly thrown out, seemingly leaving only Cheryl and Jughead at the party. That’s pretty sloppy – as is the “Your welcome” (which was fixed in reprints – as was “CD’s” -> “CDs”).
Also, the story is pretty dated. Public-access television? Today, “Teen Talk” would be a streaming YouTube series on which Veronica and Betty would have guests either in the studio or remotely. There would potentially be a much greater audience (a world of teens) to witness Cheryl’s humiliation, and the most that Betty could do is prevent the stream from being permanently uploaded to their channel or take it down. Also, the band would be a parody of whatever the current flavor of the month is.
I proudly ship Betty/Cheryl (Beryl? Chetty?), and it’s all thanks to this story. I highly recommend it. If you come across this story, read it!
Tune in next Wednesday!