Writer: Scott Cunningham
Pencils: Rex Lindsey
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Archie & Friends, No. 98
Cover Date: April, 2006
Length: 11 pages
Before I get into the story, I need to call out the cover for its desperate attempt to tie this story to the epic Love Showdown storyline.
Archie and Cheryl are walking along a street. Archie says it was nice running into her, and he thanks her for keeping him company while he did errands. Cheryl was glad to do it, because it’s always fun hanging out with him. Archie asks her to have “some more fun” with him on Saturday night. She agrees. Archie is pleased.
He worries when he imagines Veronica and Betty finding out and yelling at him, though. Cheryl picks up on his worry and asks if he’s sure he wants to go out. He says he is and claims he was thinking about where to take her; he wants it to be really special. She asks what he has in mind. He thinks for a moment and then sees a sign for The Bolling Bros. Circus. He suggests that. At that moment, Reggie looks around the corner of the building and sees them.
Cheryl is surprised and uncertain. Archie tries to get her excited, even using “sawdust on the ground” as a selling point. He says they’ll get in touch with their inner child. Cheryl agrees, saying she’s “always had a thing for clowns”. She waves to him as he leaves. He says he’ll see her on Saturday night but makes no plans with her regarding a specific time. Reggie decides to pull a “childish prank”.
On Saturday night, Archie and Cheryl arrive at the circus and go into the tent. Cheryl can’t believe they got seats right up front, saying she feels like a kid. Archie offers to get them some cotton candy. Cheryl is initially disgusted, saying she hasn’t touched that stuff in years – and then readily agrees to it. That’s pretty funny, but I don’t understand Cheryl’s dislike of cotton candy. It’s awesome. Hell, I drink energy drinks that taste like cotton candy.
So Archie goes and gets two things of cotton candy. He’s on his way back to his seat when he passes behind Reggie, Betty, and Veronica, who don’t see him. Reggie’s treating the girls. Veronica suggests turning around and looking for seats up front.
Reggie turns around, suggesting they get some refreshments before they settle down. The girls follow him. In a panic, Archie hands off the cotton candy to two random kids, Zach and Maddie, who are delighted. How do I know their names, you ask? Zach has his name printed on his sweatshirt, and Maddie has her name printed on…her skirt. Okay. She’s also wearing a blossom shirt.
Archie runs out of the tent as he hears Reggie talking about possibly running into someone from school here. Veronica doubts it. Archie hides in a clown’s trailer just as the clown is searching in the closet for his nose. Archie trips and accidentally slams the closet door shut, trapping the clown inside.
Archie finds the red clown nose on the floor. The clown manages to get the closet door unjammed just as the ringmaster barges in, slamming the trailer door against the closet door and re-jamming it shut. Somehow, the ringmaster mistakes Archie for the real clown, Fire Red Fred, and has him get into costume. Archie makes no attempt at correcting him. Okay, no. There’s no way that this would happen in real life. It really shouldn’t even be happening in a comic book. Anyway, an “accident with the cannon” is mentioned as having recently occurred to Fred. Once Archie’s dressed, they leave the trailer and head for the tent. The ringmaster decides to get “Fred” a new fire red wig, because this one (Archie’s actual hair) is looking “ratty”. The crowd is cheering for Fred.
In the ring, the ringmaster makes the introduction. Archie tries to sneak off. The ringmaster tosses juggling sticks at him, and the crowd laughs over the fact that Archie gets hit. The ringmaster sets a juggling stick on fire, since apparently that’s what Fred’s known for juggling.
Archie runs away. The ringmaster gives chase. The crowd yucks it up. Reggie thinks the clown’s voice sounds familiar (*smacks forehead*) and then sees Cheryl alone, seemingly looking for Archie. Archie runs up some steps, thinking they lead out.
He then spots a “tunnel to the top” and climbs in. No, that’s a cannon, you dumbass. Archie is stuck. The ringmaster is eager to fire “Fred” from the cannon. The audience finds this hilarious.
Meanwhile, Fred gets the closet unjammed and rushes to the tent. Hearing laughing, he vows to stop Archie before he’s out of a job. Fred thinks of himself as the “star performer” that will “save the show”, but he’s surprised at the (undeserved) reaction that Archie’s getting from the crowd, which he never got. The ringmaster counts down. Fred cries “Imposter!!” and adjusts the cannon.
Reggie, Veronica, and Betty are enjoying themselves. Reggie is still wondering about the “familiar” voice. Archie is fired directly into the audience and lands in their laps. This causes no injuries.
Cheryl is furious when she sees Archie. Veronica and Betty are pissed that he’s here with Cheryl and tried to hide it. Reggie stupidly spills that he’d overheard Archie’s “inner child” remark (which he’d later used himself on Veronica and Betty). Veronica and Betty put things together. Cheryl tells Veronica and Betty that neither of the guys can be trusted. Veronica and Betty agree. As an angry Archie growls at a scared Reggie, the three girls walk out of the tent. Betty suggests the three of them head to Pop’s. Cheryl agrees, saying they’ve “had enough clowns for one night”.
This is a pretty fun story, but the setup is completely ridiculous.
There’s a page of fan art after this, followed by a Josie and the Pussycats manga story.