Writer: Bill Ewing
Art: Thomas Pitilli
Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Letters: John Workman
Original Publication: Riverdale, No. 3
Cover Date: July, 2017
On-Sale Date: June 7, 2017
Length: 10 pages
In the office of The Blue and Gold (Riverdale High’s newspaper), on Tuesday night, at 9:45 PM, Betty is working, and Jughead is eating and drinking. Jughead’s miffed that he has to cover “the banalities of high school” instead of spending 100% of his time writing about Jason. They argue about it for a bit. Betty gets on Jughead’s case about being wordy. She also namedrops Ms. Haggly as their English teacher. She’s a teacher from the classic comics. Then Cheryl walks in (for some reason, this warrants a gasp from Betty), wearing mostly black (except for a red band in her black hat) and holding a red purse, and says “#Bughead? I need your help…” I fucking love Cheryl.
Cheryl thinks her dad is having an affair. She cites his being distant as well as abruptly ending phone calls whenever he sees her. Cheryl is in tears, and she says she won’t trouble “Mother” with this until she has proof. Supposedly, Clifford has Sheriff Keller “bought and paid for”, so going to the police is out. Citing the “almost Hitchcockian interest” that Betty and Jughead have taken in her family since “Jay-Jay” died, she figures maybe helping her with this is the least that they could do. Betty is uncertain, saying it isn’t really what they do. Jughead privately suggests to Betty that a potential affair possibly coinciding with Jason’s death might be worth knowing. Betty agrees but tells Jughead that he’s covering next Friday’s volleyball game. Jughead agrees to take the case but tells Cheryl that she’ll possibly be charged fees.
At the Riverdale Men’s Athletic Club, on Wednesday morning, at 6:15 AM, Betty and Jughead spy on Clifford swimming laps in the pool. Jughead references The Maltese Falcon. Betty makes a comment. Jughead starts to respond to it.
He finishes it outside The Five Seasons restaurant at 8:17 AM (okay, that was damn sloppy). Betty tells him to shut the fuck up. They observe Clifford going inside. They go inside and, sitting at another table, witness Clifford and Mayor Sierra McCoy making boring business talk over (according to Jughead) a breakfast of egg whites, although it looks like they’re having drinks.
Jughead wonders a bit about their futures and then wonders if Clifford and Sierra are using their business dealings as a smokescreen. Betty wonders, too, since Mr. McCoy is always on the road. She decides to follow her and tells Jughead to follow Mr. Blossom. Jughead starts to object. Betty asks if he’s gonna miss her. He says nope, but he thinks maybe.
On the Old Mill Road, at 10:23 AM, Jughead observes Clifford out “in in the woods” [sic]. The rain starts pouring. Jughead starts taking pictures with his cell phone. He observes Clifford going to a house. Jughead has already skipped Woodshop and Algebra, and Ms. McCone would “kill” Jughead if he missed Biology. What the fuck is Jughead talking about? He’s got a male teacher for Biology, and it’s possibly during fifth period.
At Pop’s, over burgers, fries, and sodas, Betty informs Jughead that she’d followed Mayor McCoy back to city hall, where she lied to her and got to snoop around her office for a few minutes. She saw her calendar. Sierra and Clifford have a standing breakfast meeting, once per month, on the books. She starts to repeat Jughead’s earlier theory of them using it as a cover, but he shows her the pics on his phone. Betty’s shocked and…I’m sorry, is that a cigar that she’s holding? I guess it’s supposed to be a burnt fry, but who holds a fry like that?
Betty feels awful for “poor Cheryl”; she’d been hoping to prove Cheryl wrong. Jughead’s all cynical and shit. Betty asks him what they tell her. Jughead says they present her with their findings.
At the Riverdale High gymnasium, on Thursday afternoon, at 3:20 PM, after River Vixens practice, Jughead starts to prepare Cheryl for the truth. Cheryl is upset. Jughead and Betty sadly look at each other. Jughead shows Cheryl a pic of Clifford and Ellen on his phone. Cheryl brightens up, relieved. She grins. Jughead starts to tell her to do something, but Betty cuts him off and asks Cheryl why she’s relieved. Ellen is Cheryl’s dressage coach. Clifford had told Cheryl that he was getting her an early birthday present this week. He’d spent a lot of time picking it out. She guesses he must be buying her a horse, and that’s why he’s been shady around her. Jughead tells her to keep swiping right, but Betty tells her that she’ll see the horse and advises against ruining the surprise. She takes the phone out of Cheryl’s hands. Cheryl agrees. She’s so excited and happy, and she tells them that they’re the best. She waves goodbye and leaves.
That night, at The Blue and Gold, at 8:33 PM, Betty and Jughead are at they’re usual tasks (working and pigging out, respectively). It’s raining hard. Jughead tells Betty that she did the wrong thing with Cheryl. Betty angrily disputes that, saying maybe Cheryl deserves a break and a chance to believe her father is decent. Jughead says they’re stewards of the truth. While Betty says, as journalists, the truth is absolute, she also says “I think that, as friends, the truth can sometimes be less important than…protection. That’s what we did for Cheryl…” Jughead agrees. I disagree. That’s not being a good friend (and Betty does consider Cheryl her friend). Betty really should have taken Cheryl aside privately, shown her the pics, and offered her a hug and a shoulder to cry on. If Cheryl finds out the truth independently, she’ll realize Betty and Jughead concealed it from her, and she might get angry at them. Being confronted with the truth might be harder on Cheryl in the short term, but, in the long term, she’ll know she has a true friend that will be honest with her, no matter what.
Anyway, they banter as they get back to covering “the banalities of high school”.
This was a nice story! My only real issue, of course, is Betty’s decision to conceal the truth from Cheryl.
So…what happened to the “Destruction!” story promised in the previous issue?
After the story is a lightweight, six-page look at the characters (including the introduction page), a one-page cover gallery, and the cover for the next issue.