Writers: Mark Waid with Lori Matsumoto
Pencils: Joe Eisma
Lettering: Jack Morelli
Coloring: Andre Szymanowicz
Original Publication: Archie, Vol. 2, No. 13
Cover Date: December, 2016
Length: 20 pages
I decided to review a New Riverdale story this week, specifically the introduction of Cheryl Blossom into New Riverdale continuity. Let’s get into it:
Each New Riverdale issue has a blurb on the inside-front cover to get readers caught up. Archie and Betty have patched up their friendship after months of estrangement, but this splits up Archie/Veronica and Betty/Sayid (Sayid Ali was apparently Betty’s new boyfriend). Archie and Veronica patched things up. Mr. Lodge lost Riverdale’s mayoral election and, in embarrassment, moved the family far away. I admit I haven’t read every issue of the current “Archie” title, so I’m unfamiliar with a lot of these events, but the details don’t really matter to this story. The point is Archie, Betty, and Veronica are depressed.
Chapter One: Worlds Apart (pages 01-04)
Archie’s walking down the street, singing “Sugar, Sugar“, and sees a poster for a Josie and the Pussycats concert Tuesday at the Beacon. He turns to automatically ask Veronica about getting tickets and realizes she’s not there.
He also imagines Veronica in his car (talking about taking a road trip) and singing while he plays guitar in the garage.
Lying on his bed, Archie tells an absent Veronica that he misses her so much.
Lying on her bed, Veronica is crying.
Chapter Two: Seeing Red (pages 05-11)
Mr. Lodge has moved elsewhere and shipped Veronica to a boarding school for girls, the vaunted Lycee Camembert in Switzerland. Veronica is completely cut off from her old friends in Riverdale, having no phone or Internet access (bullshit) and her friends’ attempted calls and e-mails bouncing (double bullshit), because Mr. Lodge owns all of the connectivity in the entire country (extreme fucking bullshit). Bitch, just borrow someone else’s cell phone or go to an Internet cafe; it’s not hard.
Veronica has to wear a school uniform and gives herself pep talks in the mirror, referring to herself in the plural. Her classes “are not so horrible”, though she has a ton of books on her desk. She plays polo. She holds “court” at the lunch table.
A week in, she’s begun to adjust. Cheryl comes by during lunch (or whenever) and introduces herself. They greet each other in French. Cheryl says she’s happy that Veronica’s here to “class up the joint”. Cheryl looks familiar to Veronica. Cheryl says she was on the same reality show as her, two seasons later. The “dinner party” episode involved Cheryl holding a wine glass and holding onto a rope ladder while fire surrounded her. Veronica is impressed and a little frightened. Cheryl is throwing a party on Friday and invites Veronica, promising “no Molotovs“. Veronica hasn’t been in a party mood lately. Cheryl offers to get coffee for herself and “Chickadee“, so Veronica can tell her all about it. Veronica doesn’t want to, but Cheryl gets an employee named Julia to bring them two espressos. Cheryl tells Veronica to spill and puts a comforting arm around her as Veronica unloads everything on her. Mr. Lodge “expresses his guilt in footwear”, so Veronica got some good shoes out of all of the shit that she went through. Veronica misses Riverdale (even though she was horrified to move there), not just Archie, because she was starting to feel like she belonged somewhere. Cheryl says Veronica belongs here, and she alone understands her. Cheryl invites Veronica on a ski trip to Dubai (she knows a “fantastic” kombucha bar) next weekend. Veronica says maybe and gets Cheryl to keep her secret. Cheryl gets Veronica to come to the off-campus party that she’s throwing for Julia’s birthday. Julia, the daughter of journalists, is here as a student on a scholarship. She has to work here to make ends meet. A chauffeur arrives with Cheryl’s sports car. So Cheryl didn’t drive there herself? After a hug (during which Veronica agrees to come to the party), Cheryl leaves, insisting she’s always right.
Chapter Three: Meanwhile… (pages 12-14)
Archie is still depressed while hanging out with Jughead (who just eats), and Betty is still depressed while playing video games with Kevin. Jughead and Kevin each suggest going out.
Archie and Jughead go to the movies. Betty and Kevin toss a baseball around in a baseball field. Jughead and Archie fly a kite. Betty and Kevin go on a roller coaster. Archie and Jughead play music. Archie feels good. Jughead suggests celebrating with a burger. Betty and Kevin play with a multitude of kittens. Betty feels good. Kevin suggests celebrating with pie.
At Pop’s, Archie tells Jughead about Veronica’s silence (not realizing it’s due to Mr. Lodge’s black-magic Internet and phone service), and Betty tells Kevin of Sayid’s silence (although she’d previously been shown trying to contact Veronica). Apparently, Sayid used to be in their band. Archie feels bad for Sayid, and Betty feels bad for Veronica. The “funny” part is the two pairs of friends are having pretty much the exact same conversation in adjacent booths and either don’t realize it or don’t care. Oh, the hilarity!
Chapter Four: Surprise Party (pages 15-20)
Julia arrives at Veronica’s room to borrow formal clothes for the party. Veronica decides to be Julia’s “personal stylist”, and Julia is overwhelmed by the clothing selection.
Many hours and many dresses later, Veronica has selected the perfect outfit for Julia. Julia doesn’t know how to thank Veronica, but Veronica dismisses it. Julia feels so overwhelmed this semester, and it means so much for people to be kind to her. Veronica gives Julia money as carfare to the party. Why not just drive her herself?
On Friday, Veronica gets dolled up. She looks at pictures of herself and Archie and wishes he was here.
Veronica arrives at the party, and Cheryl greets her “girl”. Veronica is surprised it’s a welcome party for her and asks if Julia’s here. Cheryl had given “the help” the address of the city dump. Y’know, this deception really wouldn’t have worked if Veronica had offered to take Julia – or if Julia had entered the address into her phone’s GPS. A girl named Binky sends pictures of Julia sobbing at the dump. Veronica looks at the pictures and calls all of them monsters. She gets in her car and drives off over Cheryl’s protest. Veronica – she without Internet access – has Siri give her directions to the local dump.
Veronica arrives at the dump. Julia’s gone.
Arriving back at the dorm, Veronica climbs the stairs (barefoot for some reason), knocks on Julia’s door, and calls to her. Julia (whose last name is Finch) opens the door long enough to hand back Veronica’s dress and shoes (but not the earrings and clutch) and tell her to get the fuck out. Veronica insists she didn’t know what was going on and apologizes, but Julia slams the door in her face. Veronica, heartbroken, keeps insisting she didn’t know. Julia opens the door, tells her to shut the fuck up, says she saw the pictures of Veronica at the real party, says Veronica is just like them, and begs Veronica to leave and let her spend the rest of her birthday in peace. Veronica – she without Internet access – takes out her phone and sees the picture that “Cherylbee” posted of her at the party (never mind that Cheryl was never shown holding a cell phone during the brief time that Veronica was at the party and instead seemed more interested in getting Veronica started on the glug-glug). That’s the end of Veronica’s first week in Switzerland.
It turns out that the narrative captions in this story was Cheryl’s narration. She’s telling the story to her brother Jason over the Internet while sitting on her comfy bed and holding a tablet. Cheryl says she’s only just getting warmed up. Jason observes Cheryl likes starting new projects. Cheryl says she’s “queen” around here and is not about to get dethroned by a Lodge. She has plans and says Veronica won’t know what hit her. Cheryl has learned “Miss Priss” has a weak spot: “some hayseed” named Archie. It seems Cheryl has a picture of Archie and Veronica. I think.
A box in the lower-right corner of the final panel says “Veronica vs. the World”. I can’t tell if that’s supposed to be the title of the next story or this story. This story seems to have no unifying title as far as I can tell.
There’s a reprint of “Dare to Be Bare” (with an introduction by Mark Waid), Cheryl’s first appearance in Classic Archie continuity.
This is a pretty good story. It’s definitely more of an introduction to Cheryl than how it was handled back in the days when no one gave a shit about continuity. Cheryl truly is made out to be a bitch. I don’t understand her plan, though. She used Julia to make Veronica seem like a bitch but also threw a party to welcome Veronica into the fold – all, seemingly, in the name of not getting “dethroned” by Veronica. And now she wants to involve Archie somehow. What’s her goal?
Also, Mr. Lodge’s highly selective Internet and phone service is such bad writing. While I appreciate the more modern take on the Archieverse, it means nothing when the writer doesn’t understand how the Internet and cell phones work.
Finally, I realize I was wrong on the Introduction page about Cheryl attending Pembrooke Academy in New Riverdale continuity. I’ll fix that.
Tune in next Wednesday!