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.
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.
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.
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.
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.