Comics – Cheers To You

Cheryl-Blossom-14
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Jon D’Agostino
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 14
Cover Date: August, 1998
Length: 11 pages

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

At Riverdale High, Cheryl sees Ms. Grundy in the hall and tries to avoid her, but no luck. Grundy gets a wicked grin upon spotting Cheryl. Cheryl guesses Grundy’s on her ass about the extracurricular shit from before.

Grundy says the school year is almost over, and Cheryl has failed at the school paper and the science club. Wait, science club? Is Grundy talking about that time that Cheryl wanted a star named after her? That’s quite a stretch. Anyway, why is Grundy so obsessed about Cheryl’s lack of participation? Cheryl will be gone soon. Anyway, Cheryl says she’ll find some shitty club to join. She comes across cheerleading practice in the gym and decides to join. She then realizes the state cheerleading competition is in two weeks and “could stand the attention”. She decides to hire a professional trainer.

Sometime later, at home, an older man (a butler?) informs Cheryl that she has a visitor: a knockoff of Mary Lou Retton, who was a gymnast, not a cheerleader. Cheryl wants to get down to business. She’s paying Mary “more than most small countries make in a year”. They practice, and Cheryl gets better.

Finally, once she’s good, only then does Cheryl put on a cheerleading uniform, walk into the gym, and ask to join the team. Betty and Veronica aren’t happy. Cheryl shows off her moves. A random teammate is impressed and compliments Cheryl. Betty tells a dismayed Cheryl that she can’t join, because the Riverdale cheerleading squad has been chosen for the year. Well, yeah, especially with the school year being almost over. Cheryl should have asked them before she wasted her time and money on training. Cheryl wants to be in the state competition. Ronnie’s like “Tough shit” and laughs at her.

Grundy has overheard about who trained Cheryl and offers Cheryl to “pinch hit” as their cheerleading coach for the rest of the year. Ronnie loses her shit. Cheryl agrees to it. Ronnie angrily asks about Coach Weaver. At that moment, Coach Weaver walks by in the hall alongside her husband or boyfriend or fuckbuddy and announces she’s off to have her baby girl, who’s come a bit early. Coach Weaver is all smiles and doesn’t behave at all like a woman in labor. Ronnie calls her inconsiderate. Grundy angrily tells Betty and Ronnie (but mostly Ronnie) that Cheryl “needs comaraderie” [sic] and orders them to support her. Betty seems happy to. Grundy exposits about how Betty’s the team captain and knows all of the moves. Ronnie agrees to it but warns Cheryl against pulling any shit. Cheryl says no one’s more competitive than her and says she can take them right to the top. Ronnie tells Betty that it would be nice to have Cheryl on their side for once. Betty seems to agree without saying anything.

Cheryl is eager to get started and shows the girls a cheer that she learned. It ends with Cheryl ripping her pants (or rather panties in this case). This had also happened during her training, so I guess it’s a running gag during this story. Hilarious. Betty and Ronnie laugh at Cheryl’s misfortune, despite the rest of the routine being good. An embarrassed Cheryl leaves, promising to “be back with some preparation for the competition”. I thought she’s already prepared.

Anyway, now’s a good time to mention something distracting, art-wise. Usually, it’s only Betty and Ronnie that are given any attention during these practice scenes. Sometimes, a third girl is tossed in, but the third girl always changes from panel to panel (one girl looked like just Ronnie with short hair, which confused me for a moment). There’s no sense of team cohesion.

On another day, Cheryl surprises the girls with a cheerleading bus. It has “Riverdale” on it but no mention of a team mascot (in the classic comics, the mascot is usually the Bulldogs, which is what Riverdale uses; in the Sabrina the Teenage Witch TV movie and in the The Archies in Jugman TV movie, which is a loose sequel to Archie’s Weird Mysteries, the mascot is the Raccoons). Ronnie thinks the bus is tacky and gawdy (it really isn’t), but Grundy says it was a generous donation from Cheryl’s family and forces Betty, Ronnie, and Midge (who’s on the team, I guess) to agree.

Somehow, Cheryl had gotten it fixed so the bus’ sign changes from “The Riverdale Cheerleaders” to “Cheryl Blossom’s Cheerleaders Supreme” when they’re on the road. How’d she manage that?

With absolutely no transition, they’re suddenly in the school, and Cheryl surprises Betty and Ronnie with new uniforms with a blossom on the chest. Perhaps thinking the outfits are too skimpy (although the only difference is a lack of sleeves), Betty says this isn’t a Las Vegas show. Cheryl begs them to humor her and wear them “for now”. Betty angrily agrees. Cheryl plots to switch them with their regular outfits before the competition.

Cheryl puts red wigs on Betty and Ronnie, but they refuse to wear them.

Finally, the big competition day arrives. The team’s on its way. Why are they leaving on the day of the competition? Do they not have the money to pay for hotel rooms or something? Anyway, Betty complains to Grundy that Cheryl’s driving them crazy. Grundy tells her to admire Cheryl’s determination. Cheryl asks the driver why the bus is slowing down. He says there’s a big accident on the bridge. Cheryl says the competition starts in an hour. That’s insane and totally irresponsible. I’m guessing it was Grundy’s decision of when to leave the school, so I’m blaming her for this.

Cheryl’s upset at the thought of the money that she spent on the costumes going to waste, and Ronnie picks up on that and questions Cheryl. Cheryl tries to cover her ass by saying she “forgot” their “old costumes”. Ronnie wants to beat the shit out of Cheryl, but Grundy restrains her and says they may not make it there. Cheryl’s gloomy. The bus driver relays some information from the police: they’re gonna be here for a couple hours. This gives Cheryl an idea. Knowing they have a captive audience, Cheryl suggests putting on a show, because “it’s better than sitting here doing nothing”.

Ronnie agrees, and I guess the rest of the girls are on board as well. They go outside. Cheryl spots traffic ‘copters and mentions the media coverage that they’ll get. The girls (minus Cheryl, shockingly) do a routine and are a hit. Grundy credits Cheryl with ending the year “with a bang”. Teasing an upcoming storyline, Cheryl mentions summer and says “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

This story was okay, I guess, but it feels very contrived. None of this would happen in real life. Also, the story feels very dated. It’s not really the fault of the story itself but rather the development that has occurred since its publication. I’m so used to Cheryl being the team captain and calling the shots (mostly from Riverdale, but comics like Betty & Veronica: Vixens have also run with it) that reading an old story where Cheryl’s a nobody that has to try out for the team feels odd.

Extras

Between Parts 1 and 2 is a Salem (yeah, Sabrina’s cat) story titled “One Cool Cat”.

After the story is a 1-page Cheryl illustration titled “Cheryl’s Spring Carnival Style”, which seems like something that should have appeared earlier.

Comics – Spaced Out!

Cheryl-Blossom-13
Writer: Dan Parent*
Pencils: Dan Parent*
Inking: Jon D’Agostino*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 13
Cover Date: June, 1998
Length: 5 pages

*Only the lead story in the issue is credited. I assume the credits apply to all of the stories.

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

Cheryl is walking along outside, overhears Betty call Archie a star, and takes issue with that. Veronica calls Cheryl “Scarlet Witch” and says they just had a star named after Archie. Cheryl asks how they did that. Betty shows Cheryl a star map “certificate” and explains her uncle named a star after her for her birthday.

Betty then got Ronnie a star for her birthday. Betty says they both then “just had to” register a star under Archie’s name. Cheryl asks why. Betty shows Cheryl another map showing their three stars, which “make the perfect triangle”. *groan* Cheryl calls it “nauseatingly cute” and considers purchasing a nearby star, so they’d be a “love ‘square'”. Ronnie says she can’t, because they made sure all of the stars in this section are registered, so Cheryl couldn’t interfere.

Keep in mind that organizations like the one that they use don’t have any authority to name stars, which resides solely with the International Astronomical Union, which immediately makes this story completely fucking pointless.

Cheryl says she’s above this shit, says goodbye to the “children”, and walks away. Sounds good.

Of course, this is an Archie Comics story, so things are about to take a turn for the stupid.

Later, Cheryl calls the bullshit organization and wants to buy star “A-642” (which, as far as I can tell, is not a real designation), but it’s “currently under license” to Marty Simpson of Boise, Idaho.

So Cheryl goes to Boise to convince this boy to sell it to her. *rolls eyes*

Cheryl bribes Marty by taking him to “every toy store within 50 miles” and spending many hours and dollars buying him a “truckload of toys”. Cheryl wants her star. Marty is satisfied but makes Cheryl pay for a bunch of shit for his parents.

Later, back in Riverdale, at Riverdale High, Cheryl surprises Betty and Ronnie by announcing her star. She invites them to go look tonight in Dilton’s telescope.

That night, at Dilton’s house, Cheryl looks at her “beautiful star”, which is much brighter than the others. Immediately after she stops looking, Dilton looks and tells her to look at something. Her star burns out. Dilton calls it “one hot mass of gas”. Ronnie and Betty have a laugh, and Cheryl warns them against saying anything.

This story was so stupid. Beyond the complete unofficialness of it all (which I’ve already gone into), a lot of the stars whose light we see in the night sky have already burned out long ago; it’s just that their light is just now reaching us. That means Cheryl’s star already burned out long ago. It’s one hell of a coincidence that they were able to witness the precise (delayed) moment through a telescope. Of course, the writer probably thought we see stars’ light in real time.

Comics – What a Nice Trip!

Cheryl-Blossom-13
Writer: Dan Parent*
Pencils: Dan Parent*
Inking: Jon D’Agostino*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 13
Cover Date: June, 1998
Length: 5 pages

*Only the lead story in the issue is credited. I assume the credits apply to all of the stories.

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

At home, Cheryl is watching a knockoff of Today. Without any irony, Cheryl makes fun of the “losers” trying to get on TV. Jason compares them to her. She tells him to shut the fuck up and decides to go show the “pathetic crowd” how it’s done. She wears her new sequined jogging outfit and jogs to the studio to get noticed.

Cheryl jogs near a knockoff of Al Roker and trips and falls live on national television. Most onlookers laugh at her misfortune. Al asks Cheryl if she’s okay.

Cheryl tries to claim she tripped on purpose. On onlooker says it looked real to him. Cheryl tells him to shut the fuck up and leaves in anger.

Either on another day or later the same day (it’s unclear), at Riverdale High, Betty tells Cheryl that everyone’s talking about her appearance on the show, because, if there’s one thing that teens are known for watching, it’s morning news programs. Reggie and Veronica make fun of Cheryl by asking for pointers on falling, so Cheryl walks away.

Later, at home, Cheryl’s going through magazines and newspapers, surprised at the amount of attention that she’s received. She wonders how to take advantage of it.

Reasoning this is free publicity for the show, Cheryl goes to the studio and asks to come back on. An executive agrees. Cheryl asks if she’ll co-host with a knockoff of Katie Couric. He says no but wants her to do the fall again. Angry, Cheryl threatens to sue, if that’s all that they want from her. He tells her to go ahead, since it’s more publicity for them. Cheryl decides to call her lawyer immediately. So…Cheryl is suing the show for…what, exactly? Wanting her to publicly fall on live TV?

Okay, at the lawyer’s office, Cheryl clarifies. She’s suing the show for $30,000,000 due to hurt pride and physical damage that she sustained on their property. He agrees to file the suit. Cheryl says she’ll withdraw it “if they do the right thing”.

Sometime later, Jason informs Cheryl that the lawsuit is the laughing stock of the media. Cheryl says bad press is better than no press. Clifford runs into the room, angry and screaming. Cheryl guesses he owns the parent company that owns the show. He tells her to withdraw the lawsuit immediately. He shows her The Pembrookian newspaper’s headline: “Cheryl Sues Own Father!”

On another day, in an interview for Channel 5 News, Cheryl admits she’s been grounded.

This story was so stupid. How did Cheryl not know her dad owns the parent company. How did her lawyer not know? Why did Cheryl’s father learn about the lawsuit from the local paper instead of from his lawyer?

Extras

After the story is a 2-page “Dear Cheryl” letters column by Sara Algase.

A brief correction, due to my reviewing “Spring Blossom!” from online scans: “Cheryl’s Fashion Through the Years!” actually appears between the two parts of that story, not after it.

Comics – Wigged Out

Cheryl-Blossom-12
Writer: Dan Parent*
Pencils: Dan Parent*
Inking: Jon D’Agostino*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 12
Cover Date: May, 1998
Length: 5 pages

*Only the lead story in the issue is credited. I assume the credits apply to all of the stories.

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

At home, Cheryl looks at a hair magazine and wants to try out the hairstyle but doesn’t want to mess up her hair, so she goes to the studio of a guy named Armondo to have a wig made, so she can see how it looks.

Soon, the wig is done, and Cheryl finds it beautiful, so she decides to test it out at school.

On another day, at Riverdale High, Cheryl gets a compliment from Archie on her new hairstyle. Veronica gets jealous and wants her and Betty to visit her stylist after school.

The next day, Ronnie and Betty have shamelessly copied Cheryl’s hairstyle. Cheryl calls them out on it and then calls Armondo and has him meet her at her house after school.

After school, Cheryl tells Armondo to make wigs of every hairstyle in a magazine – and is willing to pay out the ass for it.

Cheryl eventually gets a van loaded with wigs. Someone (Tomoko, I think) takes notice of Cheryl’s “hip style”. Ronnie is upset, and Betty correctly guesses they’re gonna have another after-school makeover.

Armando passes another wig to Cheryl between classes. Betty and Ronnie are stumped and apparently can’t tell these are wigs. Ronnie is obsessed, but Betty’s like “Who gives a fuck? Let her show off!” Ronnie’s concerned Cheryl’s taking attention away from her.

Somehow, Cheryl wears more wigs throughout the day than there are classes in a school day. Ronnie’s pissed. Cheryl gets Archie and Reggie’s attention. Cheryl goes to get one more wig for the day, and Ronnie orders Betty to follow her.

They see Cheryl go out to the van, and Ronnie (who has a sudden revelation that they’re wigs) confronts her upon her return. Cheryl tells Ronnie and Betty to get the fuck out of her way – and then trips and falls into a mud puddle just as Betty’s warning her. Cheryl’s pissed. Ronnie makes fun of her.

The final panel has Cheryl asking her fans to vote for their favorite style, and they’ll spotlight it in a future issue. We’ll see if that happens.

This story was okay. Not much to it. Ronnie made a big deal out of nothing.

Comics – Talent who needs it?

Cheryl-Blossom-12
Writer: Dan Parent*
Pencils: Dan Parent*
Inking: Jon D’Agostino*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 12
Cover Date: May, 1998
Length: 5 pages

*Only the lead story in the issue is credited. I assume the credits apply to all of the stories.

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

Yes, that’s the actual title of the story.

At Riverdale High, Cheryl hears music coming from the auditorium and sees a bunch of students walk in. She wonders about it, sees Brigitte (who’s now out in the hallway, even though the sound had been coming from the auditorium), and asks Betty who she is. Betty tells her and fishes for a compliment about Brigitte. Cheryl downplays her amazement.

Cheryl tries to sing “I Will Always Love You“, much to Veronica, Reggie, and Jughead’s horror. Cheryl admits she’s rusty but brags about her ability, so Brigitte invites her to join them in their musical assembly next week. Cheryl is stunned but cheerfully agrees, then wonders how she’ll get out of it. Then she immediately decides, instead of getting out of it, she’ll hire “Hollywood’s top vocal coach”.

However, the dude quits, calling Cheryl tone deaf. Cheryl’s pissed. Jason suggests she “pull a Milli Vanilli“. Since it’s only for this stupid school show, Cheryl decides to do it.

Cheryl gets a singer to record the song, and she makes Jason run the tape player, threatening to tell Betty that he still sleeps with his teddy bear, if he pulls any shit. He agrees.

On the day of the assembly, Brigitte sings “That’s the Way Love Goes” to much acclaim. Then Ms. Grundy introduces “Cheryl Blossom, superstar”. Jason starts the tape. I’m not sure what song that Cheryl’s supposed to be singing. I don’t recognize the lyrics, and Google’s no help. Betty is shocked, but then the tape jams.

Brigitte sees what’s going on and tells Ronnie, who has a good laugh. Betty suggests blowing Cheryl’s cover, but Brigitte suggests rolling with it. Ronnie and Betty shout words of encouragement at Cheryl. Cheryl wonders why Jason hasn’t stopped the tape, but Jason’s already left.

This story was pretty dumb. It was already too late to capitalize on the Milli Vanilli scandal, and Cheryl could have easily gotten out of the assembly by faking a cold or something. Also, the story hasn’t aged well, considering the Riverdale incarnation of Cheryl actually has a lovely singing voice.

Extras

After the story are a 1-page Cheryl illustration titled “Cheryl’s ‘Stop the Presses’ Fashion” and a 1-page “Dear Cheryl” letters column by Sara Algase.

Comics – Stop The Presses

Cheryl-Blossom-12
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Jon D’Agostino
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 12
Cover Date: May, 1998
Length: 11 pages

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

At Riverdale High, Ms. Grundy stops Cheryl in the hall and tells her that she’s been at Riverdale High for a month now. Cheryl (who’s dressed for an awards show, not for attending a podunk public high school) wonders why the fuck Ms. Grundy is reminding her. Ms. Grundy gets an evil grin and tells Cheryl that she needs to take on at least one school activity. Oh, fuck no! Can schools really force you to participate in non-educational shit? I never signed up for anything, and I’m damn glad that I didn’t. Cheryl tells Grundy that she’s not interested in any of them, but Grundy says she has to try something.

Getting a smug grin, Grundy declares she has “assigned” Cheryl to be co-editor of the school paper. So this wrinkled old cunt isn’t even getting Cheryl a choice of what to try? And she’s giving her such a big position? Fuck this bitch. Cheryl doesn’t wanna work on the “dull thing”, but Grundy literally pushes Cheryl to the paper’s office door and tells her that she’ll be assisting Betty, the editor. I’m pretty sure Cheryl could get Grundy fired for this. Cheryl reluctantly goes in and greets Betty. Betty might or might not be happy to have Cheryl here, but she’s all smiles. She assigns Cheryl to cover various school functions (and has a ready-made list). Um, Cheryl is the co-editor, not a reporter. Her job should be to work with Betty on assigning articles to others and then proofreading their work and working on the layout. Cheryl thinks the shit on the list is, well, shit and questions who wants to read this. She suggests going after some sizzle and scandal.

Betty tells her that this is a school paper, not a celebrity scandal sheet. Cheryl is upset. Betty tells her to do her best and assigns Dilton as her photographer.

They cover the annual craft and bake sale, and Cheryl manages to insult it while asking questions. Oh, a recurring “joke” in this story is Cheryl constantly getting Dilton’s name wrong.

They cover the science club meeting and Home Ec. Follies (the local talentless show). Cheryl insults both.

Later, in Pembrooke, Cheryl shows her write-ups and Dilton’s photos (why does she have those?) to Bunny and Cedric. They all agree it’s shit.

Cedric has an idea to Photoshop the pics (without actually saying “Photoshop”) and tells Cheryl to snap lots of pics of her schoolmates. Cheryl agrees.

On another day, Cheryl takes pics of Mr. Weatherbee napping in his office (somehow, the flash on her camera doesn’t wake him), slams Jughead’s locker door on him while he’s eating lasagna and then takes a pic of the result, drops marbles on the floor for Veronica to trip over and then takes a pic of her fall, and then does the same for Archie and a random girl. No one except Jughead seems to acknowledge her presence.

On another day, Cheryl turns in her final article to Betty. Betty thanks her and compliments her. She reminds Cheryl to bring this to their printer on Wednesday. Cheryl agrees but silently notes she’ll make a few alterations.

At Cedric’s house, Cheryl watches in amusement as Cedric alters the pics and creates tabloid-like headlines.

On Wednesday, Betty gives Cheryl the disc for the printer. Cheryl replaces it with a disc that she got from Cedric. Wait. Are these files really so big that they must be burned to a disc? Wouldn’t it be a lot more efficient for Betty to e-mail the files to the printer? And Riverdale High has enough of a budget for a CD burner in 1998?

A week later, someone drops off the papers from the printer. Betty is pissed at Cheryl for her changes, including changing the paper’s name from The Blue and Gold to The Riverdale High Inquisitor and putting a large welcome to herself on the front page.

Ms. Grundy, Mr. Weatherbee, Jughead, and Ronnie are shocked/pissed, and so is Betty for…a doctored photo of herself lusting after Archie. At issue is the fact that Archie has been digitally altered to look like Elvis during his fat period. Mr. Weatherbee comes in and blames Betty. Betty blames Cheryl. Cheryl wants them to admit it’s pretty funny. Suddenly, all of her targets arrive in the office, pissed, and Cheryl nervously admits maybe it’s not funny.

On another day, Cheryl can’t believe Betty’s not kicking her off the paper. I’m pretty sure Betty doesn’t have the authority. What’s more amazing is neither Ms. Grundy nor Mr. Weatherbee kicked Cheryl off the paper. Betty wants to take a pic of Cheryl for the paper, and Cheryl happily poses. Betty hands Dilton the pic of Cheryl and a pic of a boot.

The next month, Betty shows Cheryl the latest issue of the paper. On it is a Photoshopped pic of Cheryl with the headline: “Cheryl Puts Foot in Mouth!” and “Messes Around with Previous Issue!” Betty and Dilton are amused, proving they’re just as immature as Cheryl.

This story was aggravating, and I’m pretty sure most of this shit wouldn’t actually happen in real life. For example, the printer would have alerted Riverdale High to the questionable content on the disc before printing off a bunch of copies. The story likely wouldn’t even happen today – at least not in this form. Cheryl would likely just do her shitty job (if she doesn’t get out of it by raising a stink) and post altered pics of her schoolmates on her blog or something (if she thought it was even worth the effort).

Extras

Between Parts I and 2 are a page of Cheryl fan art (with contributions from Heather Eldridge of Rockport, Massachusetts; Tegan Swansom of Alberta, Canada; Bryn Pritchard of Boulder, Colorado; and Katelin Voight of Creston, British Columbia).

After the story is a 1-page Cheryl illustration titled “Cheryl Blossom Headline Fashions!”.

Oh, speaking of Photoshopped images, here’s one that someone made for me of this issue’s cover back on March 28, 2009, exactly 13 years and 1 day ago. Enjoy:

Cheryl-Blossom-12-altered

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.

Comics – Undercover Blossom!

Cheryl-Blossom-11
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Jon D’Agostino
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 11
Cover Date: April, 1998
Length: 21 pages

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

Part One

A caption briefly recaps the previous issue. Cheryl calls the administration office of Riverdale High and talks with Ms. Phlips. She pretends to be Shirley’s mother (from Toledo) and needs to enroll her daughter. She convinces Ms. Phlips to mail the paperwork to her, despite it being “a little unusual”.

Cheryl then decides to send a messenger to pick it up. Priscilla questions Cheryl about “Pembrooke High”. That’s…never been the name of their school, but whatever. Cheryl says Pembrooke’s winter vacation next week is one week before Riverdale’s. Also, Cheryl calls her Bunny, so I guess that’s her official name again. Bunny hopes it’s worth it; Cheryl’s confident that it is.

Soon, Cheryl gets her enrollment “forms” (which is just one sheet of paper). She decides not to use a bogus Social Security number, so the Feds don’t come after her. So…does she use her own? And won’t that immediately blow her cover? She decides to put Bunny’s phone number and address as hers. She…really isn’t thinking this through. Oh, and Jason has overheard the entire thing, because Cheryl is keeping her nonsensical tradition of saying everything out loud.

Next week (while Pembrooke is on winter vacation), “Shirley” starts at Riverdale High. She meets up with Betty and Veronica and pretends to feel out of place. Jughead insults her “1983 wardrobe”. Why that specific year?

Betty offers herself and Ronnie to help her with her clothes. Mr. Weatherbee comes by and introduces himself to “Shirley”. Reggie finds her “boring”, but Archie finds her “compelling”. The bell rings. Before she goes to class, she slips notes into each of the girls’ lockers. How does she know which lockers belong to girls? Jason shows up, making Cheryl nervous. How the hell did Jason get into the school? Do they just allow anyone in at any time?

Oh, he’s “visiting some friends”. That’s allowed? Anyway, Cheryl leaves, hoping Jason isn’t on to her but reasoning he would have sabotaged her by now. At least, she thinks so.

After class, Betty and Ronnie each read the note, supposedly from Archie, asking each of them to go steady. “Shirley” accuses Archie of two-timing them, and they yell at Archie.

Betty finds computer printouts of the same letter in Archie’s (conveniently open) locker, each addressed to a different girl. Betty and Ronnie leave in anger. “Shirley” offers to help Archie out with them.

Part 2

On another day, Betty and Ronnie are still snubbing Archie. After everyone passes in their essays, the bell rings, and Ms. Grundy dismisses the class. Cheryl “borrows” Reggie and Jughead’s essays on her way out.

The next day, Ms. Grundy gives the guys incompletes for not handing in their essays. They insist they did, and Reggie guesses someone’s messing with them.

Soon, out in the hall, Reggie witnesses their essays fall out of Archie’s book or folder or whatever and says he swiped them. How the hell did Cheryl manage to put their essays there without Archie noticing? And when did she do it, so he wouldn’t notice them before they fell out at this precise, convenient moment? And she’s damn lucky that it happened exactly this way, or else Archie wouldn’t have been “exposed” as the “thief”! Anyway, Archie says he’s been framed, but Jughead tells him to confess. Betty defends Archie, saying “He may be a two-timer, but he’s no thief!” How does she know that? Reggie and Jughead’s essays were in Archie’s possession. Ronnie’s pissed that Betty’s defending Archie.

Cheryl is proud of herself and decides to “step in and save the day”. She suggests they all shake hands and go to Pop Tate’s. Mr. Weatherbee has seen everything and is suspicious, because “Archie and his friends have been in total upheaval since Shirley started here!” Ms. Grundy agrees with him. Armed with this logic, Mr. Weatherbee goes to the administration office and asks to see Shirley’s enrollment “papers” (which, again, is just one paper). He immediately scowls at what he sees and decides “it’s time for a little investigation”.

Soon, the gang’s on their way to Pop’s. Jason meets up with them. Delighted, Betty says it’s “funny” how they keep running into him and asks him where Cheryl’s been. Jason says he’s been looking for her, because a TV crew is at their house to do a piece on her. Cheryl excuses herself to make a phone call. She goes into a phone booth and awkwardly references Superman without actually naming him.

After changing back into her normal outfit (where the hell did she keep it, and where the hell did she put her Shirley clothes?), Cheryl goes home and asks her parents about the TV cameras. Clifford’s like “What the fuck are you talking about?” Cheryl realizes Jason tricked her and is on to her. She leaves the house, enraged.

After changing back into Shirley, Cheryl arrives at Pop’s, somehow knowing she’d find Jason here. Cheryl wants to talk to him.

Part 3

They go outside. Cheryl threatens to show Betty all of the love letters that Jason has written about her on his computer (she has saved copies), if he blows her cover. He agrees not to tell but tells her that she can’t keep this up much longer. Cheryl says she’s going to reveal herself at the big dance on Saturday. This is shitty continuity, because this is already the following week after the upcoming Saturday dance had been mentioned in the previous issue.

Later, at Pop’s, “Shirley” doesn’t feel like going to the dance, because no one will want to be her date. Ronnie suggests getting Archie to ask her. Betty agrees, because “Shirley’s no threat”. Ronnie pressures Archie to do it in exchange for forgiveness for “the love letter escapade”. Archie agrees and asks “Shirley” to the dance. She accepts.

At the big dance, everyone’s having a great time. Ironically, Betty is wearing blossom-shaped earrings. After a brief discussion with Ms. Grundy, Mr. Weatherbee announces the winners of “cutest couple” – right after Ethel and Dilton discuss their intention to cast votes. Well, I guess they missed out. Clifford and Penelope Blossom have been brought in to announce the winners, which freaks Cheryl out.

Clifford announces “Archie Andrews and Cheryl Blossom” as the winners. Cheryl tries to keep up the charade, but her parents force her to out herself. Ronnie exclaims “Gasp! It’s Cheryl!” That would sound so silly if actually spoken. Cheryl gleefully makes a little speech, since she pretty much proved her claims from the previous issue.

Cheryl thinks Jason told on her, but Mr. Weatherbee says he discovered Cheryl’s Social Security number on her enrollment form. Cheryl wishes she’d used a fake number. Anyway, Mr. Weatherbee then contacted her parents. Cheryl apologizes, but her parents reveal Cheryl will be finishing out the year at Riverdale High, much to Cheryl’s shock.

Part 4

Cheryl begs her dad not to “torture” her like this, but Clifford is adamant. There’s a dumb gag where Betty and Ronnie literally faint over the news. Archie asks Cheryl to dance, but she decides to go home.

On Monday morning, Cheryl waits for Bunny and Cedric at the gate to her mansion. Bunny has heard the news, which Cheryl confirms, although she’s trying to make it seem like it’s part of her “twisted revenge”. Bunny is worried about Cheryl becoming “one of them”, but Cheryl insists she “will always be a Pembrooke blue blood”. Her friends decline to walk to Riverdale High with her, because they don’t want to be seen with her. Cheryl gets all melodramatic when she walks out of Pembrooke. Wait, why is Cheryl walking to school? Do the busses not come to Pembrooke? Have her parents forbidden her from using the limo?

When Cheryl arrives at her new school, she doesn’t wanna face Archie, Ronnie, and Betty, but she timidly greets them. Ronnie calls Cheryl “the Devil”. Cheryl tries to make light of her prank, but Betty doesn’t find it funny. Archie (of all people) wants them to go easy on Cheryl, even though Cheryl’s prank harmed Archie the most (not that he even necessarily knows that, since Cheryl was never shown confessing to anything other than creating a false identity). Ronnie responds by threatening to break Archie’s leg, and Betty is upset as well.

Later, Cheryl decides to make the best of her situation. A woman (later revealed to be named Sandy) meets her outside. She’s a reporter for a teen show that Cheryl loves, and she wants to do a piece on Cheryl’s prank, because the whole town’s talking about it. Cheryl readily agrees.

On another day, Betty admits to feeling a bit sorry for Cheryl. Ronnie agrees. Betty says, if Cheryl’s going to attend here, it might be time to start getting along. Ronnie agrees.

Betty offers Cheryl a truce, which Cheryl happily agrees to. Betty links arms with Ronnie and Cheryl, and the three of them walk down the hall together. Ronnie suggests going to Pop’s, but Cheryl wants to watch herself on the show tonight. Betty suggests they all watch it at Pop’s, but Cheryl declines as she leaves the school.

Later, at Pop’s, Betty, Ronnie, and Archie are surprised to learn the story is about Cheryl’s prank. Cheryl very mildly insults the intelligence of everyone at Riverdale High on national television. Ronnie is upset that Cheryl is capitalizing on this.

At home, Cheryl declares “Riverdale, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Just like last issue, this story was pretty stupid. Absolutely no one saw through Cheryl’s disguise (which, again, is just a wig). I work at Walmart. A while ago, the people greeter wore a blonde wig to work. It took me only a few times of sporadically seeing her for a minute or two at a time throughout my shift before I was sure it was her. These idiots have been looking at Cheryl in a wig for an entire week and never put it together.

Also, Cheryl’s scheme to attend Riverdale High never would have worked in real life. That shit would have raised some flags before Cheryl ever set foot in the door. And she’d likely face some legal consequences for creating a false identity.

Finally, looking ahead, it seems we have only three more issues set during the school year before summer starts. That seems an awfully short amount of time to use this new status quo after devoting two whole issues to setting it up. Y’know what would have been a more efficient use of space? A simple story in which her parents decide a snobby Cheryl needs to learn some humility and enroll her at Riverdale High. Done.

That said, I am looking forward to seeing how Cheryl does in her new environment.

Extras

Between Parts One and 2 are a page of Cheryl fan art (with contributions from Elizabeth Peek of Salisbury, Maryland; Witney Kline of Bismark, North Dakota; Mei Chikwok of Queens, New York; Sarah Didychuck of Manitoba, Canada; and Melissa Kelly of Alberta, Canada) and a 1-page Cheryl illustration titled “Mistress of the Mall”.

Between Parts 2 and 3 is a 1-page Cheryl illustration titled “Cheryl’s Decades of Style”.

Grand Comics Database says there’s a 2-page “Dear Cheryl” letters column by Sara Algase, but the digital edition doesn’t include it. I assume it’s between Parts 3 and 4 as in the previous issue.

Comics – Who’s That Girl?

Cheryl-Blossom-10
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Jon D’Agostino
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 10
Cover Date: March, 1998
Length: 21 pages

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

Part I

Cheryl is bored with strutting around and showing off her new winter wardrobe…for six hours. She decides to go “slumming” in Riverdale.

In Riverdale, Betty thinks it’s a beautiful winter day, but Veronica has a weird feeling. Reggie bumps into her in a daze. The girls spot Cheryl. Reggie compliments Cheryl on her outfit, and Ronnie tells him to fuck off.

Cheryl mentions her new perfume, seemingly claiming it’s the cause of Reggie’s reaction, even though he had specifically complimented her outfit and said nothing about scent. Ronnie and Cheryl insult each other, and Ronnie is about to force-feed Cheryl snow, but Betty advises Ronnie to ignore her, having learned it from Ronnie. Ronnie invites Cheryl out for hot chocolate. Cheryl would love to, but she goes to her “favorite other redhead”.

Betty is furious that Cheryl is going after Archie, who’s ice-skating on the frozen lake, and moves to save him from the “vamp”. Ronnie calls Betty out on her hypocrisy, but Betty declares “All rules are exempt when it comes to Archie!” Ronnie seems to agree but probably actually doesn’t. Archie ignores Betty in favor of complimenting Cheryl’s outfit (including the vest that she’s wearing under her jacket). He falls backward and knocks Betty on her ass.

They go over the edge of a hill, rolled up into a big snowball. This kind of bullshit doesn’t happen in real life. Dan Parent is totally aware of this, because Archie exclaims “I feel like I’m in an old cartoon!” Cheryl has somehow already made it to the bottom of the hill and makes a bowling joke upon impact.

Betty gives Cheryl a faceful of snow, making Ronnie proud. Betty and Ronnie tell Cheryl that she’d be nobody without her looks, fame, and wealth. Cheryl is so forceful in her rebuttal that Ronnie gets a bit scared. Cheryl is determined to prove she can do anything with or without fame and looks.

Part 2

Ernesto, “the top Hollywood makeup artist”, arrives at Cheryl’s house on an “emergency”: she needs him to make her “plain and normal looking”.

They go to his studio, Ernesto’s Place, and transform Cheryl into…a 1980s girl: loud outfit, blonde wig, pink headband. Cheryl looks more stereotypically 1980s here than she ever did in the actual 1980s. Cheryl decides to test this out on “some ‘unsuspecting’ locals”. Why did Cheryl put unsuspecting in quotes? Is she well aware that Betty and Veronica would be expecting this?

Maybe, because she tries it on Priscilla and Cedric. They somehow don’t suspect her, even though her face is exactly the same. Priscilla insults her. Cedric laughs.

Cheryl claims to be new in town and wants them to hang out together, but Cedric and Priscilla are snobby toward her. Cheryl reveals herself. Priscilla is confused and thinks Cheryl was trying to prove they’re snobs (which they already know). When Cheryl brings up Riverdale, Priscilla gets it: she’s going to play with their “simple minds”. Cheryl tells them to not tell her parents, because they don’t have her “sharp” sense of humor.

Soon, Cheryl has her chauffeur, Jasper, get the limo ready, because they’re going to Riverdale on a “secret mission”. She tells him to keep quiet about this and has him drop her off at Pop Tate’s. Cheryl is delighted when it seems “the whole gang’s” there.

Part 3

Cheryl goes in and politely orders an ice cream soda. Ronnie wonders who she is. Betty says “She must be new to these parts!” What teen talks like that? Cheryl “accidentally” spills the ice cream on herself. Betty decides she and Ronnie will help the “poor girl”. They get her cleaned up and introduce themselves.

Cheryl introduces herself as “Shirley Merriwether” and says she just moved here. Betty invites Cheryl to sit with them and compliments her “retro” outfit, assuming it’s for a theme party. She seemingly changes her opinion when she learns it isn’t. Ronnie asks “Shirley” about herself. Cheryl makes herself sound like a lonely loser. Ronnie declines to see pictures of her cats, upsetting Betty. Cheryl excuses herself to use the restroom in tears.

Betty says Shirley’s probably going to cry. Ronnie didn’t mean to offend “that poor pathetic creature”. Cheryl has a good laugh in the restroom and composes herself for “Act 2”. Betty invites Cheryl to a dance on Saturday. Cheryl says she doesn’t have a date. Ronnie says she doesn’t need one and can dance with different guys. Cheryl says she can’t dance.

Betty and Ronnie fire up a song on the jukebox and show her how to dance. Cheryl tries it out but “accidentally” bumps into Archie, who’s sitting by himself at a table. This is really odd, considering Betty and Veronica are here; it’s even weirder when you consider this is the first that we’ve seen of him, four pages into the scene. Anyway, Cheryl apologizes to the “cute redheaded stranger”. Ronnie says “Oh, that’s just Archie!” Cheryl asks Betty and Ronnie if he’s one of their boyfriends, but they say it’s a “long” and “very complicated” story.

Cheryl pretends to be sad that he could never notice her. Betty and Ronnie go to Archie and talk him into asking Cheryl for a pity dance. Archie does but then tries to take an easy out, but Cheryl won’t let him. Archie compliments her dancing but silently thinks “this feels strangely familiar”.

Part 4

Archie feels “strangely attracted to” Cheryl but doesn’t know why. He “can’t place these strangely familiar feelings”. Cheryl is pleased with herself. Jason shows up and greets the “Riverdalians”. Archie is upset. Cheryl freaks out.

Jason came to see Betty, who’s happy to see him. Cheryl remembers Jason has a crush on Betty. Betty introduces Jason to “Shirley”. Jason asks her if they’ve met before. Cheryl says she doesn’t think so (why not “No”?) and quickly leaves. Jason “can’t place where” he met her before and decides to follow her. He observes her making a call on her cell phone.

He also observes the limo picking her up (while failing to realize who owns the limo). In a scene that works only in the movies, Jason quickly finds a taxi and has the driver follow the limo. Um…did Jason walk to Riverdale? I doubt it, so did he just leave his car behind? The “Welcome to Pembrooke” sign has the motto “A Cut Above” on it. As a fun gag, the taxi has a sign on the back that reads “How Am I Driving? Keep it to yourself”. Jason observes the limo going through the gate to their house and guesses “Shirley” is “probably some kind of Blossom groupie or something”. How can he be this fucking stupid?! Cheryl rolls up the window to change out of her costume without giving Jasper an eyeful. She again tells him to keep quiet. Jasper’s uniform is mistakenly colored a light green instead of blue for this one panel.

Jason sees Cheryl getting out of the limo but still doesn’t put it together. He asks Jasper about the “nerd”, and Jasper immediately outs Cheryl (whether intentionally or not). Jason still doesn’t put it together and decides to “shift into spy mode”. Jason observes Cheryl putting her Shirley costume away (while conveniently talking out loud about it) and finally puts it together, believing it to be a “pretty good” disguise.

Jason is about to confront Cheryl about it when he hears her conveniently talking out loud about her “plan”, so he decides to wait and find out what it is. He thinks he can use this “powerful information” to his advantage and make Betty “very appreciative”. A footnote says “the exciting second part” of “Who’s That Girl” is in the next issue. True in a sense, but the story has a different title; otherwise, I would have reviewed it in its entirety in this post.

This story was pretty stupid. Everyone’s a fucking idiot for getting fooled by a wig. There’s no indication that Cheryl even changes her voice. And her conversation with Betty and Veronica earlier should have clued them in. But no, everyone’s a brain-dead moron. And we’re only halfway through.

Extras

Between Parts I and 2 are a page of Cheryl fan art (with contributions from Amanda Hill of Houston, Texas; Katie Patch of Bethesda, Maryland; Kristy Percival of Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada; Jessi Dietz of Odessa, Texas; and Amy Williams of Stateville, North Carolina) and a 1-page Cheryl illustration titled “Cheryl’s Hello Riverdale Fashion”.

Between Parts 2 and 3 is a 1-page Cheryl illustration titled “Cheryl’s Time for a Change Hairdos”.

Between Parts 3 and 4 is a 2-page “Dear Cheryl” letters column by Sara Algase.

Comics – Deck Those Halls!

Cheryl-Blossom-9
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Jon D’Agostino
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 9
Cover Date: February, 1998
Length: 5 pages

*These roles aren’t credited in this story; I assume the credits from the lead story apply here.

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.

Betty, Archie, and Jughead are at Club Blossom, helping Cheryl decorate it for Christmas. Despite already agreeing to do it and showing up, Betty angrily demands Cheryl remind them why they’re helping. Cheryl’s hoping her inn wins “Best Decorated Home” in a magazine contest, and they’ll be included if they help. Jughead angrily demands they get credit, because they’re doing all of the physical labor. Cheryl is doing the visual planning, which she claims is tiring also. Archie doesn’t mind helping, which Cheryl knew. Betty’s angry over this very light flirting.

Soon, they’re finished. Cheryl says it’s gorgeous. Betty happily admits it looks spectacular. Cheryl believes the award is as good as hers and tells Archie to turn on the lights. Cheryl, Betty, and Archie are in awe at the result. Betty says it’s just lovely. Despite the overwhelming brightness, Cheryl angrily detects another, separate “glaring light”. It’s coming from the lights that are a part of the Clumpitts’ “tacky display”. Cheryl decides to call the police on her “classless” neighbors.

Unfortunately, the cop can’t make the Clumpitts take down the “neon disaster” (Cheryl’s term), because it’s their property. Cheryl decides they’ll block the display. They put up a giant tarp, but it can’t block the brightness. Also, the display is attracting a crowd, who like it, much to Cheryl’s worry.

Cheryl is worried when the display attracts “everyone in town”. The magazine photographer is coming tomorrow night. Cheryl asks Jason what to do. Jason tells her to cut their power supply and indicates which wire to cut. Cheryl likes the idea and decides to do it while the magazine is here.

The next evening, Cheryl cuts the wire and cuts off the power to the inn. Pissed, she realizes Jason set her up. Jason decides to fix the wires but realizes he doesn’t know how. He’ll have to call an electrician, but it might take hours on a Saturday night. The photographer decides to cancel but then notices the Clumpitts’ display and photographs that instead, much to Cheryl’s distress.

The display makes the paper, and so does a brief mention of Club Blossom, but Cheryl’s still upset.

This story was okay, but there’s no way that Cheryl could cut the entire power to the inn by cutting one outdoor wire. At least, the Clumpitts don’t actually make an appearance.