Comics – Love is Nasty

Okay, so here’s a major Cheryl storyline from early 2008. Each part of this story is preceded by an introductory page of artwork. I’m not counting these introductory pages toward the story’s page count. The titles on the introductory pages add an exclamation point to the title, but the story pages don’t.

Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent*
Inks: Al Milgrom (Part 1), Jon D’Agnostino (Parts 2 and 3)*
Colors: Adam Walmsley (Part 1), ? (Part 2), Barry Grossman (Part 3)*
Letters: Jack Morelli (Part 1), Jon D’Agnostino (Parts 2 and 3)*
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine, No. 180-182
Cover Dates: February, March, May, 2008
Shipping Dates: December 5, 2007; January 16, 2008; February 27, 2008**
On-Sale DDC Dates: December 12, 2007; January 23, 2008; March 5, 2008**
On-Sale Newsstand Dates: December 26, 2007; February 5, 2008; March 18, 2008**
Length: 18 pages (excluding introductory pages)

*I’m posting an old review that I wrote in 2008, of a story in a digest that I no longer own. I didn’t make note of anyone other than the writer back then; the info comes from Grand Comics Database.

**according to solicitations

Part 1

Introductory page (per GCDb): “There are credits listed at the bottom of the illustration, listing Fernando Ruiz as writer and penciler, and Jon D’Agostino as inker and letterer. Yet the illustration is signed by Dan Parent. And the credits on the subsequent story list Parent, Al Milgrom and Jack Morelli as the producers of the story.”): Betty, Archie, and Veronica stare in horror at two figures (Cheryl and Reggie), who we see only as shadows. Betty says “Those two together? Now that’s scary!!” A blurb in the upper-right corner says “The team-up you never thought you’d see!”. I don’t see the point in doing an introductory page for a story that we’re about to read (not that it even fits into the story), but whatever.

Reggie and Cheryl watch Archie walking with Betty and Veronica outside. Reggie asks if Cheryl’s still pining away over that “red-headed bozo”. Cheryl says she can’t help it; something about that “goon” just gets to her. Cheryl admits she’s pretty much given up on him because of Betty and Veronica. Reggie pretty much admits the same thing regarding Betty and Veronica because of Archie.

Reggie and Cheryl go to Pop’s and concoct a scheme: Reggie wants to take Betty and Veronica to the big Valentine dance next week and impress them with his hottest dance moves, so Cheryl decides to get Archie away from the dance in the hope that she can ignite the old spark between them. On Saturday morning (the day of the dance), Cheryl will send an e-mail to Archie stating the dance has been postponed, then she’ll quickly call him (so he doesn’t call Betty or Veronica) and ask him to spend the entire day with her (to prevent him from taking any calls). She’ll even misplace his new cell phone for a few hours. Reggie will then pick up Betty and Veronica and tell them that Archie decided to go out with Cheryl. They’ll be so mad that they’ll be happy to go to the dance with Reggie and will end up fighting over him by the end of the evening.

On Saturday, Reggie and Cheryl do as planned. Mary calls Penelope to make sure that Archie’s at Cheryl’s house, because she can’t get his cell phone. Mary finds out that Jason is at the (not cancelled) dance with his girlfriend. Cheryl overhears and realizes she forgot about her “lunkhead brother”. She guesses he snooped on her and Reggie’s scheme and hopes he keeps his mouth shut.

At the dance, Jason tells Betty and Veronica about what Cheryl did, which makes the girls realize Reggie’s involvement.

Soon, Jason arrives home with Betty and Veronica – and Reggie. Betty pulls on Archie’s arm and tells him to go to Pop’s. Veronica and Betty suggest Reggie and Cheryl stick together. Cheryl and Reggie like the idea. A blurb in the lower-right corner says “Cheryl & Reggie together?–Stay tuned!”

It’s nice to see a new story in which Cheryl has a leading role, but, before I comment on the story itself, I need to address the artwork. It’s unattractive. I’m not a fan of Dan Parent’s artwork in general, but he makes Cheryl look unsexy here, and that should never happen.

Cheryl wears an adorable yellow jacket and scarf outside, but, once she goes into Pop’s, she’s wearing a hideous pink dress. Blech.

Why are Reggie and Cheryl sitting in a (seemingly empty) teen hang-out with no food on their table? Does service (and business) suck so bad here, or are they just hanging around and taking up space without being paying customers?

How does Cheryl manage to convince Archie through an e-mail that the dance has been postponed (later referred to as cancelled)? Did she create some kind of RHS-looking e-mail account or something?

Of course, since Cheryl calls Archie right after sending the e-mail, she probably has to tell him that the dance is postponed and then tell him to check his e-mail for confirmation – and then hope he doesn’t get on the phone with Betty, Veronica, or anyone else from Riverdale High before she manages to pick him up.

Oh, and then she has to hope no one tries calling Archie on his cell phone until after they get to her house, where she can hide it under a couch pillow (set to vibrate, no doubt). Then she has to hope Archie doesn’t ask or look for his cell phone at any time.

Am I the only one that thinks this scheme doesn’t make any practical sense?

Yet it works. Go figure.

Why does Cheryl think Jason snooped on her and Reggie’s scheme? That came out of nowhere.

Besides the fact that nothing except the mention of his name seems to give Cheryl that suspicion, the only places where he could possibly have heard anything were Pop’s (was he hiding under a table?) or wherever Cheryl called Archie from, which was likely her bedroom. It doesn’t make sense.

It turns out that Jason does know about what Cheryl did. We still don’t know how, though.

Jason disappears after bringing Betty and Veronica to his house. Surely, he’d be disappointed that Betty and Veronica walked off with Archie – or did he join them at Pop’s?

Speaking of Pop’s, it’s pretty rude of Betty to pull on Archie’s arm and tell him to go there. What if he doesn’t want to go?

This story was my first look at Cheryl’s new house. For those of you that don’t know, Cheryl was no longer filthy rich at this point. She was merely well-off. This was due to the Blossom family losing money a while ago. Cheryl now lived in Riverdale proper instead of the exclusive Pembrooke community. We don’t see much of her house, but it seems to have at least two stories. I’d like to see more of it.

This is a pretty weak first part. It makes Cheryl seem like an idiot that doesn’t think things through and gets by on luck. I don’t appreciate that.

Part 2

Introductory page (drawn by Dan Parent): Reggie and Cheryl share a drink at a table while Veronica, Archie, and Betty stand in the background and watch them. Veronica and Betty are happy, but Archie isn’t. Veronica says “Finally! Now they’ll be out of our hair!” Archie says “Yeah, great!” Veronica and Betty each have a hand on one of Archie’s arms. A blurb in the upper-right corner says “Cheryl and Reggie…Is it true love?”

Cheryl and Reggie meet in a hallway at school. Cheryl mentions the Riverdale High Valentine’s Day Parade is coming up, and Reggie suggests they go together. Cheryl and Reggie decide to not waste time with Betty, Veronica, and Archie (who are watching) anymore and say bye to them. Reggie and Cheryl walk off together. Archie doesn’t like “those two” together, but Veronica is thrilled, hoping they’ll stay out of their hair.

Elsewhere, Ms. Haggly and Ms. Grundy discuss the improvement in Cheryl’s grades and attitude – as well as Cheryl dating Reggie. Ms. Grundy guesses this has a calming effect on Cheryl. They need a Valentine Queen for their parade float, and Ms. Grundy suggests they nominate Cheryl (she’s still new to Riverdale High; it might help improve her attitude even more).

Later, Midge points out the Valentine Queen nominations on the bulletin board: Betty, Nancy, and Cheryl. Veronica is upset that Cheryl has been nominated. Cheryl, who’s walking by with Reggie, says Veronica is just jealous that she’s so happy with Reggie. Veronica says Cheryl will be back to her nasty old self soon enough. Cheryl tells Reggie that they should leave “these bitter fools” alone and walks away with him. Archie sighs, which upsets Veronica, so Archie denies he sighed. Veronica guesses Archie is pining for Cheryl just because she’s with his rival. Archie nervously calls it silly, but Veronica says she’ll be watching.

Archie is walking with Cheryl. Veronica angrily comments they’re getting along. Betty guesses Cheryl’s just using Reggie to nab “our Archie”. Veronica says she wouldn’t put it past her. Reggie tells “Freckles” to beat it, because he’s walking Cheryl home. Betty says, if Cheryl’s using Reggie like that, Betty actually feels sorry for him. Archie waves sadly and says bye to Cheryl. Veronica calls him a sap.

When the Valentine Parade arrives, Ms. Grundy, standing on the float, is going to announce the Valentine Queen. Veronica prays for it not to be Cheryl. Cheryl is the Valentine Queen. Veronica angrily asks if anybody “up there” is listening to her. Cheryl, wearing a white heart tiara, makes a humble speech on the float. Veronica yells at her. Ms. Grundy says Cheryl has to pick her king. Betty says here’s where the truth comes out: if she picks Archie, they’ll know she was after Archie all along. Cheryl says her choice is easy. Veronica and Betty notice Reggie looks genuinely concerned. Veronica is disgusted by Archie’s hand-waving and cry of “Pick me!” and wants to deck him. Cheryl’s “obvious” choice is her “new sweetie”, Reggie. Reggie is delighted. Veronica angrily tells “Goober” (Archie) to not look so disappointed. As Cheryl and Reggie hug, Cheryl asks Reggie if he’s okay, noting he looks kind of teary-eyed. Reggie admits he was worried that Cheryl would pick Archie over him. Cheryl says those days are over and kisses Reggie on the lips, which worries Archie. A blurb in the lower-right corner asks “End?”

The artwork on Part 2 looks a bit more attractive than the artwork on Part 1, but I still say Dan Parent’s artwork isn’t as attractive as most other artists’. Compare the artwork in the story to the cover artwork by Jeff Shultz. The cover artwork is much prettier.

Also, something else that needs to be addressed is Cheryl’s eyes. Cheryl has green eyes on the introductory page. However, Cheryl has blue eyes in the story itself. Part 2 technically is completely uncredited (Part 1 has credits separate from those on its introductory page; Part 2 doesn’t), so I don’t know who did the coloring on Part 2. (Adam Walmsley did the coloring on Part 1, where he gave Cheryl black eyes.)

Meanwhile, Betty has black eyes instead of her “official” blue, but that’s beside the point.

Part 2 is, generally, better than Part 1, but I do have some problems with it.

The perspectives and positions of the characters are screwed up on page 1. Actually, that goes for every scene with the bulletin board.

Cheryl’s grades improve just because she’s dating Reggie? How does that work? Is it because she’s given up on trying to get Archie and has more time to study as a result?

Furthermore, I don’t recall reading anything prior to this about Cheryl having poor – or even mediocre – grades.

Betty is just suddenly there almost 2/3rds of the way through the third scene (in the hallway). That’s pretty sloppy.

In the same panel as Betty’s sudden appearance, Archie is shown walking with Cheryl – and Reggie is nowhere in sight. The thing is Archie was talking with Veronica in the previous panel (after Cheryl had left with Reggie), and there’s no indication of any kind of time passage. Who checked Dan Parent’s (a.k.a. the writer) artwork on this story?

I know it’s probably a hopeless dream that Archie Comics would keep things in line with 9-year-old continuity, but, if you remember, Betty and Cheryl became friends in 1999. That friendship was never officially ended. Keeping that in mind, other than thinking Cheryl is using Reggie, Betty is a lot more tolerant of Cheryl than Veronica is:

Betty (who was nominated) doesn’t yell when Cheryl is announced as the winner, whereas Veronica (who wasn’t nominated) does yell – multiple times.

Hell, Veronica doesn’t even seem upset that she wasn’t nominated – only that Cheryl was nominated. Veronica must really hate Cheryl.

Also, Veronica has an unhealthy jealous streak in this story (compared to Betty, who goes so far as to call Archie “our Archie”).

Veronica is delighted when Cheryl is occupied with Reggie, hoping it’ll keep Cheryl away from Archie. Betty doesn’t seem to care – except for the aforementioned concern that Cheryl might be using Reggie.

Veronica also blames Cheryl’s good fortune on God/Jesus/Mary/Aphrodite/Venus/Amaterasu/whomever. Shut up, Veronica.

Finally, there’s Archie. He keeps pining away after Cheryl and lies to Veronica about it. Why does she even want him? Why does Betty?

Um, yeah, like I said, Part 2 is better than Part 1. Not by much, but it is. I’ll stick around for Part 3 to see how it all ends.

Part 3 (a.k.a. How’s Tricks?)

Introductory page (drawn by Dan Parent): Reggie and Cheryl kiss and are caught on the screen at a stadium. Veronica and Betty are in the bleachers, watching. Veronica angrily says “I guess Cheryl and Reggie want everyone to know they’re a couple!” Betty seems surprised. A blurb in the upper-left corner says “The story continues…”. Is this how you get on the screen at a studium? You pay for it in advance, and someone points the camera at you for a moment? Why is Betty surprised? The crowd sitting in the bleachers across the field from Veronica and Betty looks real. Did they just insert footage of a crowd into the picture? I don’t know if Dan Parent actually wrote this gag. I’m just going by his signature. Keep in mind that the writers aren’t credited for cover gags, so this might be the case here, too.

Betty, Archie, and Veronica see Reggie and Cheryl together in a hallway and comment on them. Veronica sarcastically calls them “sweet”. Archie doesn’t know what Cheryl sees in Reggie. Veronica angrily asks if Archie is jealous. Archie nervously denies it. Betty says it’s “strange” that things have been so quiet since Cheryl and Reggie started dating. Veronica says it’s “like a strange lull is in the air”. Archie guesses it’s a ruse, so Reggie and Cheryl can play a prank on them, but Betty and Veronica dismiss that, saying Reggie and Cheryl look pretty serious. Archie opens his locker to get something for his next class, and books, papers, fruit, and a shoe fall out. Archie blames Reggie, who denies it. Reggie says Archie’s a slob, and it backfired on him. Archie considers it a possibility, but he says he’s got his eye on Reggie, which doesn’t scare Reggie at all.

Later, Betty has to hurry to cheerleading practice and grabs her outfit from her locker as she runs by.

At practice, the back of the gold underwear of Betty’s outfit rips while she’s doing a cheer. Someone (Nancy?) makes a joke about it. Betty covers the hole with her hands and excuses herself.

In the locker room, Betty examines the hole and suspects it’s been tampered with. Betty suspects Cheryl and guesses maybe Archie was right.

Veronica is walking to Betty’s house to ask her to come to the mall with her (Veronica hasn’t been there in two days). Suddenly, Veronica gets covered with snow. Veronica suspects Cheryl and then Reggie. She guesses Archie might have been on to something.

At school, Betty, Veronica, and Archie confront Cheryl and Reggie in a hallway. Veronica and Betty demand answers. Reggie and Cheryl each deny it, but Cheryl says she’d love to take credit. Betty guesses maybe her outfit was worn out more than she thought. Veronica guesses maybe the tree branches were weighed down with all of that snow. Reggie says goodbye to the “paranoid fools” as he and Cheryl leave. Betty says she feels silly. Archie suggests just forgetting about this.

Later, it’s time for biology class, but Archie’s locker door is stuck. When it opens, pudding spills out, covering Archie, Veronica, and Betty. Cheryl laughs and says pranks work best when one’s guard is down. Reggie laughs and agrees with his “honey”.

Okay, first of all, what’s up with the title? I thought this was supposed to be Part 3 of “Love is Nasty”. That title is only on the introductory page, not on the story itself. The story is called “How’s Tricks?”. What the fuck?

The title seems just as ambiguous as the “End?” at the end of Part 2. Maybe they used it as an excuse for the title change?

Nah, they just screwed up.

Anyway, if “How’s Tricks?” is some kind of joke, please let me know.

The artwork on this story is what I’ve come to expect from Dan Parent. Cheryl looks particularly ugly in panel 6 on page 2.

Cheryl’s eyes appear black here. Barry Grossman did the coloring this time.

Meanwhile, Betty has black eyes again.

Betty grabs her outfit as she runs past her locker. She’s shown neither opening nor closing her locker. Is she so trusting that she leaves it open all day?

And she grabs only the bottom part of her outfit, yet she’s shown wearing also the top part during practice. Did she keep the other part in a gym locker? Did she borrow an extra top? However she got it, it wasn’t on the hanger with the bottom part.

There’s no scene transition to Veronica being on her way to Betty’s house. That makes it kind of confusing.

Why is Veronica walking to the mall instead of driving a car or being driven in the limo? The ground is covered with snow, after all.

I guess Betty lives close enough to Veronica’s house that Veronica can walk there.

Does Veronica expect Betty to drive them to the mall? I see no other way that they can get there. That’s great. “Hi, Betty. Up for some shopping at the mall? Oh, yeah, and can you drive us there?” Some friend.

We never find out if Cheryl and Reggie were pulling all of those pranks or if the incidents were just bad luck. Based on the last panel, though, I’d guess just bad luck.

Betty and Veronica seem surprised but not angered by the prank. Then again, Archie was the one specifically (and completely understandably) targeted, not them, and Archie gets the worst of the pudding onslaught.

This story is okay, but, when we look at the storyline as a whole, Cheryl goes from being deceitful to being thankful and humble (which reminds me of the Cheryl that Betty is friends with) to being prankful. All in the course of a storyline. By the same writer. Can’t we have continuity of character in the same storyline?

Author: markmooreauthor

I love watching anime and superhero movies, and I love playing video games. I also write fan fiction and original fiction.

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