Comics – History Repeating

Archie-Double-Digest-328Writer: Ron Robbins
Art: Rex Lindsey
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letters: Rex Lindsey
Original Publication: Archie Jumbo Comics Digest, No. 328
On-Sale Date: March 16, 2022
Length: 5

A sign in the school hallway reads “Riverdale High Spring Dance This Friday” and “The Pop Culture Ball”, and it promises “Iconic Retro Dance Moments” and “Awards for Best Costume”. A bunch of students are in the hall, including Moose, Midge, Veronica, Jughead, Kevin, Betty, Archie, and Chuck (I think). Midge says she has a costume idea, but Ronnie wants to go costumeless and just look stunning to keep Archie’s attention. Archie’s upset that he got an F on his history exam. An attached note warns him that, if he fails the next exam, he will fail this course. Kevin asks Betty what she’s going to do to get Archie’s attention. She doesn’t know yet and will look through her mom’s old dresses. Ronnie wants Archie to go dress shopping with her after school today. Nervous upon seeing Mr. Weatherbee (who’s judgmentally frowning at him), Archie agrees but says he has to study after.

After school, Archie studies while Ronnie tries on vintage gowns in a shop and praises the dress that she’s trying on without looking at it.

At the Cooper house, Betty tries on one of her mom’s dresses (which looks exactly like Ronnie’s dress). Alice says she wore that to her “high school dance” (she doesn’t get any more specific). Betty loves it. Hal takes a pic with a phone (presumably Betty’s), so she can send it to Archie. Hal looks different than usual here. He seems thinner and has way more hair.

At Archie’s house, he opens the pic of Betty but falls asleep after studying so much and drops his phone, inadvertently loving the pic. Betty’s voice comes through Archie’s phone…somehow. She’s excited that he loves the dress. Wait, she didn’t initiate a voice call, from what we can tell, so this part is really weird.

On page 3, there’s an abrupt cut to the dance (no transition, no caption). Chuck (I think) is the DJ and announces they’re gonna do the dance that he taught them. Coach Clayton is standing near the stage, so I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be Chuck (although he has really long sideburns, pretty much a beard). Kevin and Cheryl are dancing together. He tells her that she looks “magical”. Each person or group of people are labeled via captions after a movie. Cheryl is labeled “Teen Witch“, and Sabrina, standing nearby, is upset. Surely, Sabrina can’t see the caption, so I think she’s just taking issue with Cheryl being called magical instead of her. It might be a reference to AU Cheryl casting spells in the Rivervale storyline on Riverdale. Not sure. Jughead is “Teen Wolf“. Moose and Midge are “Dirty Dancing“. Some unknown guy and Ethel, Reggie and Toni, and Jughead and Sabrina are “High School Musical 3” (which breaks the 1980s trend). Fun fact: Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay Evans in the High School Musical films and her own spinoff) was in talks in 2008 to star in a remake of Teen Witch. That never happened, but she did go on to star as a certain other teen witch.

Betty and Ronnie, who until now have not been seen at the dance, are shocked to see they’re wearing the same dress. They stare daggers at Archie, who’s nervous. They then stare angrily at each other. Ms. Grundy announces Betty and Veronica as the winners for their “wonderful Beverly Hills 90210 reference”.

Betty and Ronnie come on the stage with Ms. Grundy, and she officially presents them with the trophy. Chuck and Kevin seem to be the only ones that are particularly happy for them. Cheryl is upset. Mr. Weatherbee presents Archie with his graded history exam at the dance (as high school principals are known to do). To Archie’s relief, he got a C+.

So…that felt odd, didn’t it? It felt incomplete, somehow. Things don’t make sense. Why is there so little dialogue during the dance scene? Well, here’s the description that appeared on Amazon (provided by Archie Comics) on the day that the issue was released:

“First, in “Spring, What it Means,” it’s time for the annual Riverdale Spring Dance and everyone’s getting into the spirit of the season—aka stressing out big time for the dance! Betty & Veronica discover they’ve bought the same exact dress thanks to the influence of Cheryl Blossom! Kevin’s trying to make sure Cheryl doesn’t ruin the entire engagement and Jughead is.. well, being Jughead. While everyone’s spring fling is turning into a spring disaster, can Archie swoop in to save the day?”

So…yeah, clearly, something happened here. Most of what’s in that description isn’t even in the final story. Was the story rushed? Or did Archie Comics realize it had a stinker on its hands and wrote a misleading solicitation to try to make it seem like more was going to happen in this story than what ended up actually happening?

And who the fuck is this Ron Robbins guy? Some new writer? If so, I’m worried about the quality of future stories.

Outside of occasional new experimental one-shots, this is it right now: new stories in the digests and the mostly-reprint floppies. Archie Comics can do better, but it seems most of the new stories have a “jobbing it” feel, and this is the worst offender so far.

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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