Comics – Case Of The High Grade Hacker

Archie-Double-Digest-333Writer: Ian Flynn
Art: Ryan Jampole
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Archie Jumbo Comics Digest, No. 333
On-Sale Date: September 7, 2022
Length: 5

Sam Hill is outside Riverdale High, doing the stereotypical hardboiled narration. Various students (including Kevin, Ginger, and Chuck) give him odd looks. Sam describes Riverdale High as very clean and crime-free, and no students do any shady shit or take any precautions. A hacker “has been making trouble across all fifty states” and has led Sam here. For this case, Sam needed some “expert help profiling the perp”…

…but he had to settle for Archie Andrews. We learn he and Archie had a clandestine meeting earlier at Pop’s. Archie was trying to “hide” behind a menu. Why is Archie dressed like he did in the 1940s? Seriously, he’s wearing the same old outfit (including the bowtie), and his hair is in a throwback style as well. Anyway, Sam explains to Archie that the hacker (“Pseudo”) is attacking school databases and wiping out all of their grading data.

Archie likes that, but Sam asks him if he really wants to repeat “all of high school and middle school” (bullshit), so Archie declares “Their evil must be stopped.” Sam needs someone that can blend in with the other students and I.D. Pseudo among them. Archie says he’s “only handled a few weird mysteries” (nice shoutout) and suggests Sam do it himself. Sam says he tried that once, and it didn’t go well. We then get a brief (probably very recent) flashback of Sam trying to pose as a ’90s kid at Riverdale High and freaking Jughead, Dilton, Betty (who looks retro-1960s, it seems), and Chuck the fuck out.

Later, at Riverdale High, Archie is on the “hunt”. He has a transmitter in his ear with which to communicate with Sam. Archie appraises various students as he passes them in the hallway. Dilton definitely has the know-how, but he’d never ruin things for everyone. Reggie is certainly the type to try such a stunt and not think about the consequences, but he can barely manage his phone. Cheryl would be spiteful enough, and she could hire Pseudo to do the attack, and Archie gets a boner and wants to “interrogate” Cheryl, so he doesn’t finish his appraisal of her.

Okay, let’s pause here. Cheryl is attending Riverdale High. I’m calling attention to this, because, believe it or not, for the past seven years, Archie Comics had never definitively established this. Until now.

In the final major storyline of the Betty and Veronica floppy title, shortly before it was canceled, Cheryl was shown to attend Riverdale High and even joined the cheerleading squad. However, that storyline involved Veronica and Betty leaving Riverdale High and attending schools as exchange students in various nations around the world, and the Archie floppy title completely ignored this, so the argument went that the Betty and Veronica storyline occurred in either another school year or an alternate universe. Cheryl has been shown attending dances at Riverdale High since then, but those were excused away as not being evidence of her attending Riverdale High.

Well, now, we have evidence. It’s one double-sized panel in a rather unremarkable short story, but there it is. So it seems Cheryl has been attending Riverdale High for this entire time, ever since the last of the floppy titles were canceled seven years ago in 2015. Yet we don’t know why she’s been attending Riverdale High. She attended for a few months in her solo title in 1998 as punishment by her parents, and she attended again from 2004 to late 2008 / early 2009, when her family had lost money (and were reduced to being merely upper-middle-class), but there was never (as far as I can tell) a story where she started attending Riverdale High for a third time. Why would she? Perhaps the same reason that Veronica attends: to have her understand the common people more and not grow out of touch with them? But then why wouldn’t Jason be attending as well?

I’ve theorized about Pembrooke Academy being subtly dropped from the stories as a way to consolidate the characters after the cancelation of the floppy titles and the subsequent drastically reduced output of Classic Archieverse stories by the company. Indeed, the last time that I recall any mention of Pembrooke was in “Stranded in Paradise!“, and that came out over a decade ago. And the last time that we actually saw Pembrooke Academy? Probably the “Queen B” storyline in 2009 (but that story was weird all around). Anyway, Cheryl still lives in a mansion, and you could argue it’s located in Pembrooke, but she attends Riverdale High.

Anyway, Sam tells Archie to focus. He says Pseudo is a master of disguise and could be someone that Archie doesn’t recognize. Why would he just now be telling Archie this? Archie says he knows everyone here. The first bell rings. Sam tells Archie to quickly get to the server room, because Pseudo might be attacking right now, while everyone is occupied with their classes. Why would the hacker have to be by the server?

Anyway, Archie somehow knows where the server room is and goes there. He sees someone, but the lights are off. He tries to get a better look.

He flips the power switch for the lights from the up position to the down position, and this somehow turns on the light in that one room. All of the other switches are in the up position. The labels are inconsistent from panel to panel. One of the switches is actually labeled “Dilton’s Secret Lair”.

Anyway, Pseudo (who wears a mask with a question mark on it) says Archie ruined everything, knocks him on his ass, and runs off, seemingly leaving his laptop behind. Archie gets to his feet and informs Sam of what happened. Sam says at least Archie stopped Pseudo and saved everyone’s grades. Archie, full of himself, calls himself a hero, not seeing a pissed Mr. Weatherbee standing behind him. A caption in the final panel reads “To Be Continued…?” It’s been over two months, and this story has yet to be followed up on, so I’m guessing no.

This story was okay, I guess, but I find it far more notable for answering a longstanding question about Cheryl’s academic status. You could say Sam Hill cracked that case.

Comics – The Dating Game: Viewer’s Choice

Cheryl-Blossom-29
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)*
Pencils: Holly G!*
Inking: John Lowe*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 29
Cover Date: February, 2000
Length: 6 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.

First, I think the apostrophe in the title is in the wrong place. I doubt only one viewer picked the winner.

Either both Cheryl and Daisy decided to dress in the same outfits as last time, or only a commercial break has passed between the previous story two issues ago and this follow-up…somefuckinghow. So is this supposed to be occuring in 1999 or 2000?

Daisy says the winner will accompany Cheryl on the Sea Princess to Hawaii. Cheryl is excited. Daisy asks Cheryl who it will be.

Cheryl (who has blue eyes in this story) can’t decide and asks the audience. So this isn’t picking up precisely where the previous story left off; it’s backing up slightly and doing a bit of a retcon (for example, the cruise wasn’t mentioned in the previous story). Bachelor #3 gets the loudest cheer from the audience.

Daisy has the bachelors come out in numerical order, and they are exactly who we thought they were: Archie, Reggie, and Jughead. Cheryl had hoped bachelor #3 was Dilton or Moose, and she’s horrified to learn it’s Jughead. Jughead participated, because he heard there are great buffets on ocean cruises.

Gladys Jones and Penelope Blossom accompany their children on the cruise. Wait, what’s that? Penelope is saying her name is Rose. Rose? Granted, I don’t think her name has been mentioned up to this point, but I got the name from somewhere (I used it in a fanfic as far back as 2011, nearly six years before Riverdale premiered), and I was sure it was from this series. Cheryl, carrying Sugar and wearing sunglasses, asks Jughead if they’re almost on the ship. Can she not see? Jughead says it’s not sunny and asks Cheryl about the sunglasses. She’s hoping no one will recognize her. It turns out that Archie talked Jughead into being a contestant, and he’s now regretting it. Jughead yells at Cheryl to watch out as she trips and falls backward. He catches her, and two guys with cameras recognize them from The Dating Game and think they’re hugging.

Cheryl is upset, thinking now the press is going to make them the couple of the year. An angry Jughead tells Cheryl that he won’t cramp her style. Much to Cheryl’s relief, they go their separate ways. Cheryl enjoys guys. Jughead enjoys food.

The next day, while Cheryl’s lounging on deck, Sugar is hot and thinking of water. Cheryl asks a guy to get a glass of water for her and a glass for her puppy, too. He’s confused, despite the fact that Sugar had been lounging on Cheryl’s chair with her. Cheryl panics when she realizes Sugar is missing. Jughead walks by and asks about the commotion. A child says there’s a puppy in the pool. Sugar lets out a frightened “Yip!” as she struggles to swim. Cheryl runs down to pool level as she yells Sugar can’t swim. Jughead dives into the pool. Cheryl yells at Jughead to save her. He does.

That evening, Cheryl serves Jughead (her “puppy’s hero”) dinner, waiting on him hand and foot. Sugar looks at Jughead with love, and he pets her. Two guys at a nearby table snap pictures. One of them says it’s “the romance of the century”.

This story was nice. It’s understandable that Cheryl would initially want nothing to do with Jughead, but he saved Sugar’s life, so she expresses her gratitude, not caring how the press will interpret it.

Comics – Behind the 8-Ball

Cheryl-Blossom-29
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)*
Pencils: Holly G!*
Inking: John Lowe*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 29
Cover Date: February, 2000
Length: 6 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 (whose eyes are blue in this story) is in her mom’s closet and asks her if she can borrow her new handbag. Penelope lets her. When Cheryl takes the bag, “an original fortune-telling eight-ball” rolls out from behind it. Cheryl finds it “groovy”.

Cheryl asks her mom (who’s sitting at her vanity) for permission to use the ball. Penelope lets her. Cheryl goes to her bedroom and lies on her bed. Sugar stands up on her hind legs, holds on to the bed, and sniffs the ball. Cute. 🙂 I wanna discuss the layout of Cheryl’s bedroom for a bit. We know room (and house) layouts change from story to story, but this is really drastic. You know how, in previous stories, Cheryl’s room overlooked a beach? It now overlooks a grassy area with what look like pine trees, and there’s a mountain range in the distance. We went from beach to mountains! Also, Cheryl now has pet fish, and the aquarium is built into the wall next to the window.

Anyway, Cheryl asks Sugar what they should ask the ball first. She asks it if Archie Andrews is thinking of her and shakes the ball. The response is “Without a Doubt”. Cheryl is delighted. Her cell phone rings. She looks over at it, wondering who could be calling. Sugar jumps on the bed and lets out a “Yip!” at it. Cheryl answers the call and gives her name, which I wouldn’t do, personally. Sugar is curious.

It’s Archie. He says he was just thinking about her. He invites her to go snowboarding on Saturday. Staring at the ball in wonder, she agrees and ends the call. Cheryl is excited that the ball “really works”. Bitch, it was a coincidence. She shakes the ball and asks it if she’s wealthier than Veronica Lodge. The response is “Of course”. Cheryl declares “This ball knows it all!” She giggles, laughs, shakes the ball, and asks it if she’s prettier than Betty Cooper.

The response is “No”. Cheryl is shocked and calls a salon or spa to be booked for “a day of beauty”, because this is an “emergency”. For fuck’s sake. Hey, didn’t Cheryl borrow her mom’s purse, because she was gonna go out somewhere? What happened to that? Well, whatever. Cheryl goes through her “day of beauty” and then asks the ball the question again.

The response is still “No”, which shocks Cheryl. She calls Betty and invites her over to pose for some make-over photos. Betty, who seems to be just lounging around and reading or whatever, happily accepts.

Soon, Betty arrives, and Cheryl (who has completely changed her outfit, her third in a single day) thanks her for coming over so quickly. Cheryl gets Betty something to drink, and then the two friends sit down in…some room, seemingly on the floor, amidst a bunch of beauty items, and Cheryl explains her idea for the shoot: “two friends giving each other a facial and stuff”. Don’t tease me. Betty says it’s a great idea. Cheryl puts a mud pack on Betty and then conditions her hair, and then she puts a “nice plastic bag” on her head to help with the oil treatment.

Cheryl goes to get her “camera”, but she’s asking the ball again. She hopes it works, because “Betty looks like a total geek”. Betty says the mask is tightening and takes it off. The ball’s response is “No”. Cheryl cries. Betty asks her what’s wrong. Cheryl explains everything and starts crying. Betty puts her comforting hands on Cheryl’s shoulders and asks her how she can let a piece of plastic tell her what’s what. Cheryl immediately realizes she was a dumbass and tosses the ball away. Betty says she sometimes feels like Cheryl’s mellowing out. Um, how does that flow from anything that’s happened so far? Anyway, Cheryl agrees, saying she’s “a regular marshmallow”. Haha. Behind them, the ball reads “Yeah sure!”

This story was pretty fun, even if the premise was absurd. I like to think, when Betty and Cheryl walk off at the end, they’re going to get Betty cleaned up and then do a real photo shoot.

Comics – To Catch a Falling Star

Cheryl-Blossom-29
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)
Pencils: Holly G!
Inking: John Lowe
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 29
Cover Date: February, 2000
Length: 11 pages

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

Well, it’s a new year, but, contrary to what the residents of Riverdale believe, it’s not a new century.

It is, however, the final year of the Cheryl Blossom title’s existence (although it’s unknown when the creative team became aware of the title’s cancellation), so we’re in the home stretch with just nine issues left to go for our heroine.

I think it’s safe to assume Holly G! has entirely dropped the inn / Club Blossom. It hasn’t been seen since “Deck Those Halls!” in issue #9 (around two years ago at this point), and we haven’t seen the manager, Louella McGruff, since “Hair-Don’t!” in issue #16 (the middle of the beach house storyline, well over a year ago). Dan Parent was still writing and drawing the title back then.

At the Fresh office, Cheryl is having a meeting with four women. I have no idea who these women are. One of them (with short black hair and sunglasses) might be one of the women that recruited her in “Strike a Pose!” or one of the women in “Eat Something!” (who might or might not be the same person), but she actually looks more like Priscilla/Bunny. I wish the Fresh staff members were more clearly defined and consistent, considering this is Cheryl’s job, and she frequently interacts with these people, yet we don’t have a handle on who they are. Anyway, the other women want a “fresh” new idea for the cover, something that would sell more magazines. Their sales are down, which is unfathomable to Cheryl with her photo on the cover.

A blond guy named Walter interrupts the meeting to inform “Miss Blossom” that her “friends” from Riverdale are here. Cheryl remembers she invited Archie to see her “in action” and wonders who else came with him. She has Walter send them in. Veronica walks in, already bored, and drops her coat on the floor. Rude. A smiling Betty follows her. Archie brings up the rear and greets Cheryl. Cheryl isn’t happy to see one or either of the girls (I’d like to think just Ronnie).

Archie thinks it’s “so cool” to get to watch Cheryl work on her fashion magazine (which she’s been working at for well over a year but I guess never thought to invite him over before). Um, she’s a “junior editor”, or at least that’s what she was hired as. Is she now actually in charge of the magazine with no one above her? Anyway, Ronnie doesn’t share Archie’s enthusiasm and insults Cheryl. Archie shushes her, because this is “big business”. Cheryl suddenly has an idea, stands up, and slams her hands on the table, startling her coworkers.

Archie flirts with Cheryl, which earns him a dirty look from a staffer and an elbow from Ronnie for “interrupting business”. Cheryl thinks girls would love to see their heartthrobs on the cover and wonders which teen idol is the hottest. Ronnie suggests a knockoff of Ricky Martin (which, yeah, he was legit fucking huge at the time). The Bunny-like staffer agrees but says, if they have him on the cover, they’ll need to do an interview with him, too. Cheryl volunteers to do the interview. A black staffer named Aura knows “for a fact” that he’s booked solid for a year.

Cheryl (who has blue eyes in this story) knows Ricky “just so happens” to be in town for a concert, and he’s staying at Hotel Royal, which is owned by her family. Well, isn’t that convenient? She calls the hotel, but the desk clerk informs her that there is a block on Ricky’s phone. Cheryl is pissed. She grabs her purse and storms off. Ronnie laughs. Before leaving the office, Cheryl turns to them and vows she always gets her man.

Cheryl goes to the hotel, goes to Ricky’s room, and demands of his very large bodyguard to be let in. He’s like “Fuck you, I have my orders.” Cheryl isn’t intimidated, which is admirable, albeit perhaps suicidal.

Cheryl calls upon her “Blossom brain power” and disguises herself as a hotel staffer. She somehow gets a hold of a food cart and takes a dish of guacamole and chips to Ricky’s room. According to a bio on him (which Cheryl is reading while walking, for some reason), it’s “his most fave snack in the world”. Cheryl claims to the bodyguard that she’s room service.

Ricky allows the bodyguard to send Cheryl into his room. Cheryl has a camera in her uniform hat. When did she set that up? Ricky trips and falls face-first into the dish. The cart bumps into Cheryl and knocks her hat, wig, and glasses off her head. Ricky realizes she’s wearing a disguise.

Cheryl apologizes for sneaking in, introduces herself (she’s the “editor” of Fresh magazine), and helps Ricky to his feet. Ricky explains his manager doesn’t want reporters to see him, because he’s a “total klutz”. He falls on his ass and explains he’s fine if he has a choreographer teaching him some moves.

Cheryl wants to make a deal: she’ll keep his clumsy secret, and he gives her an exclusive interview and photos.

When the issue of Fresh comes out, Ronnie buys a copy in a store, finds Cheryl on the street, and demands to know how in the actual fuck. Standing outside the busy store as it’s running out of copies of Fresh, Cheryl winks and says “A good reporter doesn’t reveal her secrets!”

This story was pretty fun. I’m surprised that it took this long, though, for Cheryl to think of getting a celebrity exclusive for her magazine.

Extras

In the middle of the story is a page of Cheryl fan art (with entries from Cinna Jamal of West Lafayette, Indiana; Felisha Thomas of Carson, Georgia; Karen Reno of Rolla, Missouri; and Veronica Olko of Charlottesville, Virginia).

After the story is a 1-page Cheryl illustration titled “Cinderella Style” with six honorable mentions listed but no indication of who designed the four featured fashions.

Comics – Identity Crisis

Cheryl-Blossom-27
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)*
Pencils: Holly G!*
Inking: John Lowe*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 27
Cover Date: November, 1999
Length: 6 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.

Well, it looks like we’re getting an extra page in this story to make up for the shortfall in the lead story.

Jason still doesn’t know what to wear to Betty’s Halloween party, so Cheryl is taking him to a store called The Halloween Scene (which they had to make an appointment for). The owner/employee/whoever is dressed like Elvira but with red hair. The woman checks her appointment book and, for no reason except to advance the plot, says Veronica and Archie were here before them. Cheryl’s worried, because Ronnie got her costume here, but then she has a “devilishly clever idea” and grins evilly. By the way, Cheryl has blue eyes in this story.

On Halloween night, at the mansion, Cheryl is dressed in the same costume that Ronnie has: some spider-themed superheroine. Jason is dressed as Zorro.

Jason took a cue from Cheryl: just as she will trick Archie that she’s Veronica, Jason will try to get a little somethin’-somethin’ from Betty. Cheryl calls him Lark of Zorro, which is pretty funny, but it annoys him.

Cheryl’s red, blossom-covered limo takes them to Betty’s house. They’re “fashionably late” and decide to slip in and “begin the fun”. Cheryl spots her “target”: Archie (who’s dressed as Zorro). Jason is smitten with Betty, who “looks like a princess”. Cheryl flirts with Archie, calling him “Archiekins”. Archie assumes she’s Ronnie, because he’s a fucking dumbass that can’t tell his girlfriends’ voices apart, and gives her her soda.

Cheryl takes Archie out on the patio to gaze at the harvest moon. Jason moves in on Betty, who’s tending the punch bowl. Betty reminds “Archie” that he’s Ronnie’s date, but Jason sweet-talks her, and she instantly drops her morals. Ronnie comes by, sees “Archie” kissing Betty full on the lips, and flips her shit. Jason tries to force himself on Ronnie, which breaks Betty’s heart.

Jason kisses Ronnie full on the lips, and a pissed-off Betty calls him a “two-timing two-timer”. Jason then kisses “fair Betty” full on the lips, which pisses off both girls. Jason then makes a dramatic “getaway” (he just runs off with his sword raised). The girls give chase. Holly mistakenly has Ronnie use “fair” instead of “fare”.

Jason runs out onto the patio, past Archie and Cheryl. Ronnie and Betty arrive. Ronnie is shocked to see Archie with another girl. Archie is surprised to see Ronnie. Cheryl is worried. Ronnie unmasks Cheryl, hurting her in the process, and Cheryl tells her to watch it. Ronnie and Betty are pissed at Archie. Betty believes he’s been with three girls tonight. Archie runs away, claiming ignorance.

Betty asks Cheryl, “Can you believe the nerve of that guy?” Cheryl nervously claims she didn’t know Archie had a date with Ronnie (which, really, I suppose there was no way that she would know for sure). Jason arrives in a different costume and wishes Betty and Cheryl a Happy Halloween. Betty wishes him a Happy Halloween but isn’t happy. Cheryl is surprised that Jason changed his costume. Jason asks Betty what’s wrong. Betty says Archie ruined her night. Jason offers to cheer up his “poor, pretty princess”. Betty smiles and calls Jason “such a prince”. Cheryl is pissed and says she doesn’t have a date now. As he walks off with Betty, Jason makes a trick-or-treat pun, which further angers Cheryl.

This story was pretty fun, but it’s a leap in logic for Cheryl to assume Ronnie and Archie were gonna be each other’s dates just because they bought their Halloween costumes together (or one directly after the other). Also, Archie, Betty, and Ronnie fail at recognizing the voices of people that they hang out with on a regular basis.

Comics – The Dating Game

Cheryl-Blossom-27
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)*
Pencils: Holly G!*
Inking: John Lowe*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 27
Cover Date: November, 1999
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 a contestant on The Dating Game. The host, a knockoff of Daisy Fuentes (who never actually hosted the show in real life), introduces Cheryl (who’s rocking Gwen Stefani space buns). Daisy says three men are “dying” to meet Cheryl. Why’s Cheryl on a dating show? I can’t believe it’s because she’s having trouble finding a boyfriend. She’s probably just doing it for exposure.

Daisy invites the bachelors to introduce themselves and then invites Cheryl (who has aquamarine eyes in this story) to ask her questions. The questions are extremely hypothetical, and most of the responses are nothing special, but bachelor #1 expresses a desire to lick Cheryl’s face, which Cheryl finds “sweet”.

All of the bachelors’ responses make it pretty obvious that bachelor #1 is Archie, bachelor #2 is Reggie, and bachelor #3 is Jughead (though it’s not revealed here). Why are they on a dating show, especially Jughead? Notably, Reggie’s favorite love song is “I’m Too Sexy“.

Daisy asks Cheryl who will be the lucky winner that they will send her on a fantasy date with. Cheryl finds bachelor #1 “so romantic” and bachelor #2 “kinda fun”. She thinks bachelor #3 had “caring answers”. She doesn’t know and points at the home audience readers, saying she needs their help in deciding which guy that she should choose. A blurb next to Cheryl in the final panel says the bachelor with the most votes takes Cheryl on a fantasy date in issue #29.

This story was okay, I guess, but it made no sense. Cheryl is dating Archie and Dilton. Archie is dating Betty, Veronica, and Cheryl. Reggie dates whoever. Jughead isn’t interested in girls. What the fuck?

Extras

After the story is a 1-page Archie story titled “A Concrete Example”.

Comics – It’s a Maze Thing

Cheryl-Blossom-27
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)
Pencils: Holly G!
Inking: John Lowe
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 27
Cover Date: November, 1999
Length: 10 pages

Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition. However, the digital edition, as of this writing, is missing the second page of this story, so I had to dig out my physical copy for that.

No, that page count isn’t a typo.

Cheryl is at an outdoor charity function on someone’s estate. A banner on the gazebo reads “Children’s Hospital Fund”. Cheryl thinks some of these charity functions are just big eating fests – while eating a slice of cake. Strangely, there is a vase full of flowers sitting on top of the cake – right where Cheryl had taken her slice from. Anyway, Cheryl is happy to see a garden labyrinth on the estate and decides to walk off her dessert and do a little exploring at the same time.

There’s a bird singing and a butterfly fluttering its wings. Cheryl finds the maze pretty and peaceful. It’s bigger than she’d anticipated, but she’s “a girl who loves a challenge”. She’s shocked to run into Veronica.

Cheryl is upset to see Ronnie. Ronnie suggests they pick different paths. Cheryl agrees. But they keep running into each other.

By the way, Cheryl has aquamarine eyes in this story. Anyway, Ronnie starts to get scared and says they’re trapped, but Cheryl tells her not to give up. Cheryl picks a path, and they find a new path. Ronnie asks about a thing in a shrub. Cheryl looks and, to her horror, discovers it’s a beehive. Cheryl is allergic to bees. She screams and runs away. Ronnie follows. The bees follow them.

Ronnie pulls Cheryl down another path. The sprinklers start. Cheryl slips and falls. She warns Ronnie – but too late. Cheryl knocks Ronnie to the ground, somehow sliding her legs around Ronnie from behind. An angry and soaked Ronnie blames Cheryl for ruining her stockings, but Cheryl is happy that they ditched the bees.

They get to their feet. Ronnie yells that she’s wet and cold. Cheryl admits the maze is “kinda scary”. Ronnie cries for her daddy. Cheryl cries for help, because she’s “stuck with a wet crybaby”. They yell for help. They hear music, and Cheryl guesses the brass band has started to play. Ronnie says that means no one can hear them call for help. Cheryl is scared, because it’s starting to get dark. They hug each other in tears, believing they’re going to die.

Ronnie and Cheryl sit on the ground, hugging each other and crying. Cheryl wonders if anyone will find them. Cheryl notices Ronnie’s shoes and compliments her on them. Ronnie says they were a bargain. Cheryl admits Ronnie always gets a lot for her dollar. I’m pretty sure I’ve read stories that directly contradict that statement.

Ronnie’s mad, because she thinks Cheryl’s calling her cheap. Cheryl’s upset and says she was just saying she likes her shoes. Ronnie admits she admires Cheryl’s self-confidence. She says that stunt that she pulled with the Sugar Girls took guts. This cheers Cheryl up, and she admits it did take guts. Ronnie also, surprisingly, brings up the time that Cheryl turned the “Cherry Blossom Festival” into the Cheryl Blossom Bash (it was actually the Cheryl Blossom Festival). Cheryl giggles at the memory. Wow, I didn’t expect Holly to reference anything so old. That was from Dan Parent’s run, and it took place at the tail-end of the school year before last, when Cheryl was temporarily attending Riverdale High. Two summer vacations have passed since then. It’s possible for it to still be in continuity at this point, I guess. Anyway, Ronnie doesn’t know how Cheryl thinks up some of that stuff. Cheryl says, with Ronnie’s instincts and Cheryl’s brain power, they’re getting out of here.

Cheryl stands up. Ronnie’s confused and stands up. Cheryl puts her arm around her, gestures at the paths before them, and tells Ronnie to use her instincts for a shopping bargain to pick a path. Ronnie picks one. Unfortunately, it leads to a dead end. Fortunately, Cheryl finds a hedge clipper. Snipping it with a slightly crazed look on her face, Cheryl says Ronnie’s instincts found them a way out.

In a while, Cheryl manages to cut them out of the maze. Cheryl crawls out and then helps Ronnie out. Cheryl is amazed that they have such good teamwork. Suddenly fearful (for their reputations as rivals, I guess), they each swear to keep quiet about it. Penelope and Hiram are having drinks nearby. Penelope spots their “lovely daughters”. Hiram asks them if they’re enjoying the fundraiser. Ronnie says “It’s been an a-mazing party!” Cheryl adds “Yes, I’d hedge my bets on that!” Behind them, the groundkeeper notices the huge hole and thinks a beaver or something made it.

This story was pretty nice. We got some nice character development for both Cheryl and Ronnie. These two could be genuine friends, if they weren’t so concerned about their “reputations” or whatever.

Extras

In the middle of the story is a page of Cheryl fan art (with entries from Felisha Thomas of Carson, Georgia; Rasalind Tan of Singapore; and Clara Kang of Cartago, Costa Rica).

After the story is a 1-page Cheryl illustration (by Holly G!) titled “‘Boo’tiful Halloween fashions”. Cheryl is dressed as Elvira (I think), a devil (with Sugar as her devilish sidekick), and a witch. Cheryl’s witch costume is by April Engelberg of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Comics – Beauty and the Beach

Cheryl-Blossom-25
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)*
Pencils: Holly G!*
Inking: John Lowe*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 25
Cover Date: September, 1999
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.

Archie and Reggie come across Cheryl at Muscle Beach. Yeah, Muscle Beach. Just how many damn beaches are there in the area? Cheryl’s swimsuit and hair-do are by Jill Audra Schoenfeld of Woodbridge, Connecticut. Anyway, Archie and Reggie get boners, but then Archie gets suspicious when he notices Cheryl is “all interested” in something. Mind your own business, asshole. Anyway, Cheryl is checking out the bodybuilders, one of whom, intentionally or not, looks like Jason.

Reggie gets the idea to ask Moose to train them in weightlifting, so they can impress Cheryl (but he’s too nervous, so Archie asks instead). It goes as well as you’d expect.

They get the hang of it after a few hours, but Cheryl ignores them and takes an interest in Moose instead.

Cheryl flirts with Moose and asks him to be her personal trainer, which pisses Archie and Reggie off. Midge comes by and asks the guys if they’ve seen Moose. To Archie’s surprise, Reggie tells her. Archie suggests warning Cheryl, but Reggie watches happily as a pissed-off Midge storms up behind Cheryl and Moose.

This story was very trite and superficial. Not much happened, and Cheryl was barely involved. It was mostly about Archie, Reggie, and Moose.

Comics – Jungle Blossom

Cheryl-Blossom-25
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)*
Pencils: Holly G!*
Inking: John Lowe*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 25
Cover Date: September, 1999
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.

In…some jungle-themed room in the mansion, I guess, Cheryl is checking herself out in the mirror while wearing a “jungle” bikini. A bunch of previously-worn swimsuits are lying on the floor. Sugar is looking up at Cheryl. So…Cheryl has been repeatedly stripping naked in front of her dog. I don’t have anything else to say about that; I just thought I’d point that out. Anyway, Cheryl is convinced that she’s going to be a hit in her mom’s “Save the Rain Forest” fashion show. An upset Penelope comes in with horrible news.

Penelope has to cancel the fashion show, because the models missed their plane at “London Airport”. Could you be any more vague? Also, the orchestra’s instruments were lost by the airline. Cheryl (who has blue eyes in this story) cheerfully tells her mom to just make sure that the luncheon is organized and the audience is seated, and her “brilliant daughter” will handle the rest. Penelope is unsure, but an annoyed Cheryl points out that she edits a fashion magazine, which isn’t exactly the same thing as putting together a fashion show. Penelope is upset at Cheryl’s “oversensitive” reaction but agrees to it. Cheryl gets on the phone, and Penelope admits to herself that, when times are tough, Cheryl does what she has to to get it done.

Later that day, Cheryl arrives at someone’s house (probably Archie’s) in her red, blossom-covered limo. The Archies are practicing in the garage. Cheryl thanks them for helping her out on such short notice. Archie is happy to see her. Betty has no reaction. Veronica is pissed at Archie for not telling them that they were rehearsing for Cheryl. Reggie gets a boner. Cheryl’s chili pepper outfit is by Nicole Benz of Simcoe, Ontario, Canada. Anyway, Ronnie doesn’t wanna perform, but she’s won over when Jamie brings by the jungle costumes that Cheryl just picked up. Betty also loves them and calls them “darling”. Cheryl says she’ll have their costumes, “especially” Ronnie’s, waiting for them at the benefit. Archie tells Ronnie that Cheryl’s “not so bad”.

At the benefit, Cheryl peeks behind the curtain and says the band looks great. Cheryl has an…excited grin on her face as she’s looking at Betty and Reggie in skimpy attire…from the back. A pissed Ronnie comes by with a gorilla costume (with a tag with her name on it) and is like “What the fuck is this shit?” Cheryl “felt it was necessary to represent some of the rain forest creatures”. Ronnie’s like “Fuck no, bitch.” Cheryl says there are no other costumes. Ronnie refuses to play. Archie tells Cheryl that the band can’t play without Ronnie. Cheryl says Ronnie’s “only a keyboard player”. Um, playing the keyboard still requires practice and skill, and it’s just as important to the sound of the band as a guitar, bass guitar, and drums. If any band member is disposable, it’s Betty with her stupid tambourine. Anyway, we get some surprising backstory on the band in the form of exposition from Archie: Mr. Lodge bought them their instruments on the condition that Ronnie always play with them. Cheryl is worried, because there really are no other outfits.

Ronnie happily points out that they’re the same size. Cheryl realizes she can’t disappoint her mom and trades costumes with Ronnie.

In the front row, as the audience applauds for the band performing on stage and the models showing off the jungle fashions, Penelope happily tells some women that, if it wasn’t for her daughter, she would have had to cancel the benefit. The woman sitting next to her calls it wonderful. She says the models are “so Amazon”, the band is fabulous, and her daughter is a genius. Ronnie teases Cheryl, who growls (probably not acting). The audience laughs. The woman asks Cheryl where her “beautiful” daughter is. Penelope says she “went ape for the rain forest”.

This story was a mixed bag. On one hand, Cheryl did a really nice thing by saving her mom’s benefit. On the other hand, Cheryl just had to try to stick it to Ronnie. And who are the models that are walking at the benefit? Did Cheryl get them as well? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the Archies to record their music for playback at the benefit and also strut their stuff on the catwalk instead of staying at the back of the stage? And why is rainforest double-spaced?

Comics – Creature Feature on Party Beach

Cheryl-Blossom-25
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)
Pencils: Holly G!
Inking: John Lowe
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 25
Cover Date: September, 1999
Length: 11 pages

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

Cheryl is having a “Sixties’ Beach Party BBQ” (as Archie calls it). There’s live music and food. Everyone’s having a great time (except Veronica, who chooses to stew in anger). Archie’s dancing with Cheryl (hence Ronnie’s anger), and Betty’s dancing with Jason. I notice Betty usually gets mad about Archie being with Cheryl only when it’s important to the plot (or for a quick visual gag).

Meanwhile, a low-budget film director and his assistant (Sammi) are spying on the kids from behind bushes. I’m pretty sure that the director is supposed to be a knockoff of Roger Corman. You can learn more about him by watching James Rolfe’s video about him:

Anyway, he gets the idea to save money by filming the teens in secret and not paying them, which is hella illegal. Sammi should point this out to him, but all that he can muster is “it doesn’t seem fair”. Anyway, a shipwreck and robotic eel are set up.

Later, Cheryl suggests a game of frisbee. Nancy loves the idea, but Ronnie doesn’t, so Cheryl throws the frisbee and lands it perfectly on Ronnie’s head. After a bit of trash talk, Ronnie throws the frisbee back. It goes over Cheryl’s head and right to the film cheapos.

Ronnie tells Cheryl to go get it. The cheapos hide and roll camera before Cheryl arrives. Cheryl spots the “shipwreck” and yells for everyone to come over.

Ronnie doesn’t wanna go but does so to keep a distance between Cheryl and Archie (which she wasn’t doing during the party, but whatever). Everyone’s amazed. Cheryl guesses it’s a pirate ship.

Archie scares Cheryl by saying the ship’s haunted, and she jumps into his arms – as he intended. Ronnie chastises Cheryl for falling for “that ol’ Archie ploy”. Jason scares Ronnie by saying there’s a jellyfish and gets the same result. Jason thanks Archie. Ronnie’s pissed. Betty says there’s something inside the shipwreck.

Jason drops Ronnie to help Betty. Cheryl charges ahead and pulls “blondie” away, since the ship is her discovery. Cheryl (whose eye color fluctuates between green, aquamarine, and blue in this story) looks inside. They’re excited when they see a treasure chest. Cheryl crawls in, followed by Betty. Cheryl warns everyone that the cabin is “half submerged” (which isn’t even remotely true; the floor’s wet). Cheryl bets there’s gold inside. Archie accuses Ronnie of trying to scare him. Ronnie asks him what the fuck he’s talking about.

He says she’s grabbing his leg. She denies it. It’s the robotic eel, which wraps itself around Archie. Cheryl grabs an oar and tries to whack it off him. Back on the beach, the film cheapos have monitors set up that pick up the various camera feeds. The director tells Sammi to pull back on the robotic eel before Cheryl breaks it. He also tells Sammi to “keep rolling that remote camera” on the ship, despite there being multiple cameras on the ship and multiple monitors in their viewing setup. On the ship, Betty believes Cheryl scared the eel away. Ronnie insults Cheryl’s perfume.

Archie says Cheryl saved him, calls her his hero, and kisses her on the lips. Jason suggests checking out what’s inside the treasure chest. Betty agrees, since “Cheryl’s busy”. They’re shocked to discover there’s nothing in the chest but sandbags marked “Property of Cheapo Films”. Jason laughs. Cheryl is suspicious.

After they leave the ship, Nancy asks them if they found any pirate treasure. They found a hidden camera (just one) and a giant rubber eel. The director runs over to Betty and tells her to be careful with the eel, because it cost a fortune. So…does he use it in a lot of his films to get the most out of his money?

Cheryl somehow recognizes him. He’s flattered. Cheryl and Archie are pissed at him. He outright admits it, calling his movie a “low budget video blockbuster”. Cheryl brings up their lack of pay for acting, the film crew’s lack of a filming permit, and the recording of her party’s band. She brings up her lawyer, and the director is visibly sweating at this point. Interestingly, Cheryl mentions this is her family’s private beach. We know Cheryl’s bedroom overlooks the beach. Is this separate from Pembrooke Beach, which Clifford bought and made public during last summer’s beach house storyline? Is that storyline even still in continuity?

A few weeks later, the gang (or at least Cheryl, Betty, Archie, and Ronnie) are attending a screening of the movie (not sure where). Archie thanks Cheryl for getting them paid for their acting. Notably, the sleeve of Betty’s shirt has a blossom on it. Just saying. Anyway, Ronnie compliments Archie’s “acting” (freaking out while the eel wrapped itself around him), which causes Archie to squirm. Cheryl and Betty laugh.

This story was pretty funny. Not much else to say.

Extras

In the middle of the story is a page of Cheryl fan art (with entries from Rachael Nelson of Renton, Washington, and Kayla Luebke of Littleton, Colorado; there are three pieces of fan art, each in a different style, but only two credits).

After the story is a 1-page Cheryl illustration (by Holly G!) titled “Cheryl Blossom Summer Nights Pin-Up”.