Comics – Fashion Emergency

Cheryl-Blossom-26
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)*
Pencils: Holly G!*
Inking: John Lowe*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 26
Cover Date: October, 1999
Length: 5 pages

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

Cheryl knocks on Jason’s bedroom door and tells him to hurry the fuck up, because they’ll be late for the Lodges’ yacht party. Jason invites her in, saying he’s ready. She goes in and is shocked at what he’s wearing: dress pants, a sleeveless white shirt, and a tie. Um, oh, no? He’s like “What the fuck?”

Cheryl corrects him that this is a yacht party, not a wedding. She says she got all of the “cool fashion DNA”. He asks what’s wrong with his clothes. She says they’re too conservative. He says Mom likes them. Cheryl pisses him off about getting his cheeks pinched and offers herself as his guide to get into “fine and funky fashion”.

At the party, Jason checks out Betty and goes over to say hi to her and Veronica, confident that Betty will like his clothes. Mistaking him for the waiter, Veronica orders another cola. Then she apologizes, embarrassed. Betty asks Jason if he’s hot in that outfit.

That remark turns Veronica’s (and Betty’s) attention over to Archie (who’s talking with Cheryl), and they forget all about Jason. Veronica makes a guess as to the brand that Archie’s wearing, and Betty decides they should ask him about it. Do teens really care about inane shit like that, even rich teens? Anyway, Jason starts talking about his tie, but they don’t care. Hermione Lodge notices Jason’s tie, and one of her friends pinches his cheeks. Jason runs to Cheryl for help.

The next day, Cheryl takes Jason to the “source” of fashion: her teenzine, Fresh. They go into a fashion shoot for upcoming cool teen styles. She starts to show him some clothes. Just then, the photographer runs over to her with an emergency: their male model for the “Lover” shoot never showed up. Cheryl quickly makes Jason fill in, even though he starts to protest.

On another day, Betty, Veronica, and Midge are positively orgasmic as they check out Jason on the cover of their copies of Fresh. Cheryl is very pleased with herself.

This story is pretty cute. Not much else to say.

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Comics – A Midsummer’s Magic

Cheryl-Blossom-34
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)
Pencils: Holly G!
Inking: Jim Amash
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Stephanie Vozzo
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 34
Cover Date: September, 2000
Length: 11 pages

Cheryl and Jason are at the beach. Cheryl’s got her boombox and a music CD and is putting sun block on herself. Jason falls for a girl – unrealistically entirely in the shadows – playing volleyball and asks who she is. Cheryl tells Jason to control himself and is about to say it’s probably Betty.

But then, in shock, she realizes it’s Sabrina, who’s playing volleyball with Betty. Cheryl screams Sabrina’s name out loud, which surely won’t attract her attention (actually, it doesn’t). Jason asks why Cheryl’s scared of a pretty girl and makes a joke. Cheryl says she had a “way weird experience” during their first meeting. Flashback time!

It was during the summer when Jason and their parents went to Italy, and Cheryl went to sleep-away camp. Daaaw, Cheryl was a cute kid. Wait. Her head was wider than the width between her shoulders back then. Where have I seen that before?

Yep, this is a crossover between Cheryl Blossom and Sabrina. Sabrina was Archie’s tie-in comic to the then-recently-ended Sabrina: The Animated Series. You can read all about that here. Anyway, that should make Cheryl around twelve in this flashback. Cheryl was “young and carefree” and “looking forward to roughing it in the wilderness”. The limo drops Cheryl off at Camp Timberlake. Sabrina and Chloe are impressed. The chauffeur (Jamie?) helps “Miss Cheryl” out of the limo. Cheryl introduces herself to Sabrina and Chloe. Sabrina introduces herself and Chloe to Cheryl. Cheryl brought “a wonderful wardrobe of funky fashions” and offers to share them with the girls – while simultaneously insulting their current clothes. Chloe is pissed. Sabrina is surprised. A counselor comes by with the bunk assignments (which Sabrina is unrealistically excited about).

Cheryl, however, brought her own lodgings. Yeah, Cheryl brought a full fucking house (which is just suddenly there). She invites Sabrina and Chloe to stay with her. Sabrina is surprised. Chloe seems suspicious. The camp counselor, perhaps a bit intimidated, agrees to let the girls bunk together.

Later that week, Chloe talks a nervous Sabrina into zapping her hair back to normal (Cheryl had given her a disastrous do after the counselor told her to tidy up). Sabrina is sure Cheryl meant well. Chloe doesn’t think so. Sabrina suggests swimming down by the lake. Before we move on, I need to address the big problem with this story: it’s Cheryl’s flashback, but it frequently breaks perspective, showing stuff that Cheryl never would have been aware of. Honestly, this feels more like a story that should have been printed in Sabrina and guest-starred Cheryl.

At the lake, Cheryl has turned their swim time into a fashion show. Chloe and Sabrina are in disbelief. Chloe is pissed, but Sabrina finds Cheryl’s bikini kind of cute. Chloe says Cheryl’s worse than Gem Stone. Sabrina tells Chloe to give Cheryl a break, saying she’s just outgoing. Chloe goes on about Cheryl and wants Sabrina to zap Cheryl out of here, which Sabrina refuses to do.

Sabrina lectures Chloe about tolerance. Chloe points out that Cheryl is flirting with Harvey (who’s here, too, it seems). Sabrina gets pissed and declares “Cheryl Blossom has to go!!!”

Sabrina, much to Chloe’s amusement, invites Cheryl on a girls-only camping trip tomorrow. Cheryl’s excited for it and gets ready to call her caterers and get a camper. Sabrina puts a stop to that, saying it’s “all arranged”. Cheryl hopes she doesn’t get bored. As Cheryl continues flirting with Harvey, Sabrina says she’ll keep her “amused”. Chloe asks Sabrina what she has planned. Sabrina’s “brewing up” something “spooktacular” for their “redhaired problem”.

The next day, as they’re ready to head out, Chloe says it looks like every boy in camp is “under Cheryl’s spell”. A confident Sabrina says not for long. The counselor leads the girls. The boys says bye to Cheryl. Cheryl passes along a compliment that Harvey supposedly gave her, angering Sabrina. Sabrina zaps a heavy rock into Cheryl’s backpack. Rather than check her backpack, Cheryl walks another mile (35 minutes) with that thing. Once they arrive, the counselor tells them to start putting up their tents.

Even though Cheryl’s exhausted, I guess she managed to put up her tent. That night, while Cheryl, Sabrina, and Chloe (seemingly the only girls there) are roasting what look like large Polish sausages over the campfire, Sabrina suggests telling some scary stories. Cheryl starts telling about a perm that she once got. Sabrina cuts her off and says ghost stories. Cheryl is suddenly tired but agrees to hear it. Sabrina had a “great, great grand aunt” named Samantha (how original) that went to this very summer camp. A redhaired girl stole her boyfriend, and it broke her heart (take a guess as to who the characters look like). In her grief, she ran into the woods and was never seen again.

Cheryl is unsympathetic. Sabrina says the campers reported she still walks these same woods at night and haunts all of the red-haired girls who camp here. As if challenging herself to make this story even less convincing, Sabrina says they say her relative even looks like her. Cheryl doesn’t believe a word of it, says she’s pooped from the hike, wishes them good night, and crawls into her tent.

Later that night, Sabrina astral projects (or something) herself into Cheryl’s tent and scares the shit out of her. Cheryl runs off, declaring she’s leaving. Sabrina and Chloe laugh over this, not caring if Cheryl gets lost or eaten or murdered or whatever.

Back in the present, as she finishes her story, Cheryl tells Jason that, when she sees Sabrina, she gets that same chill and has to “beat feet”. Jason thinks his sis is cray-cray. Cheryl puts on her hat and sunglasses and tries to run away, but Archie notices her and calls to her, angering Veronica (who’s suddenly here as well). Sabrina says hi to Cheryl. Cheryl freaks out and runs off, abandoning her sunglasses and hat. Veronica angrily tells Sabrina that, sometimes, she thinks she’s a witch. Sabrina nervously asks why. Veronica lightens up and says, whenever she comes to the beach, she makes Cheryl Blossom disappear. Sabrina laughs. Archie looks at Cheryl running away.

This story is okay but kind of inconsistent, and I really hate that Sabrina put Cheryl into a potentially dangerous situation. Overreact much?

Comics – Take the Mummy and Run!

Cheryl-Blossom-26
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)
Pencils: Holly G!
Inking: John Lowe
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 26
Cover Date: October, 1999
Length: 11 pages

Cheryl, wearing a golden diadem, ankh, and various arm jewelry, stands in front of a sphinx and fancies herself to be a royal princess of Egypt.

It turns out that she’s just at the museum with her mom and Jason, though. Jason comes by, showing off the tacky shit that the museum souvenir stand is selling. He makes fun of the “desert princess”.

It turns out that their parents own the museum, and Cheryl lectures Jason about learning. Penelope and Jamie come by. Cheryl’s happy to see her mom, but Jason complains about Cheryl. Penelope drags both of them to see the new addition to the Egyptian wing.

Cheryl and Jamie are impressed. The museum has the “authentic Egyptian mummy” of the pharaoh Narmer. Cheryl notices the painting behind the sarcophagus and correctly guesses it’s him. Penelope also points out his queen (possibly Neithhotep). Jason points out (seemingly somewhat jealous) that the queen looks like Cheryl. Cheryl says she always knew she was royalty in a past life. Jason insults her.

Suddenly, Dr. Carter, the archaeologist that sold the Blossoms the new additions for the mummy exhibit, shows up and flirts with Cheryl. Penelope introduces him. Cheryl gets a lady-boner for this middle-aged man with graying temples. However, Jamie gets bad vibes from him. Dr. Carter flirts with both Blossom women. Jamie uses her psychic abilities to look into Dr. Carter’s intentions. Cheryl’s in love, but he’s after the Blossoms’ money. Penelope introduces Cheryl to Dr. Carter.

Jamie pushes Cheryl away, bullshitting about her being late for her swing dance lesson. This confuses everyone (except Jason, who’s bored). Cheryl, still in love, says bye to Dr. Carter. Dr. Carter compliments Cheryl to Penelope. Penelope invites him to tomorrow evening’s gala and gives him an invitation. Seeing Cheryl on the card, he accepts. Jason’s bored and wants to leave. Penelope, irritated, agrees. She says goodbye to “Mr. Carter”.

As he watches them leave, Carter silently exposits about using his “suave ways” to sell the Blossoms fake shit (which he hopes to do for years). He tosses the invitation onto the sarcophagus.

Later, when no one is around, it opens, and a hand reaches out for the invitation…

The next day, at Blossom Manor, in Cheryl’s bedroom, as Cheryl’s applying her lipstick, Jamie asks Cheryl who will be her date for the gala. Cheryl says her dad couldn’t make it, so Dr. Carter offered to accompany her mom and her. Jamie suggests Archie instead. Cheryl lists Dr. Carter’s supposed important qualifications. Sugar’s just interested in Cheryl’s make-up on her vanity. Jamie tries to warn Cheryl about Dr. Carter, but Cheryl calls her a worry-wart. Jamie should just be honest with Cheryl that she’s still psychic. Cheryl has put on different gold bling for the gala, including a diadem with a triple moon (waxing crescent, full moon, and waning crescent), which is a typical symbol of the Goddess in Wicca.

In a while, at the museum, Penelope is pleased with the decorations. A short man named Jacques asks if they should open the sarcophagus lid now. She agrees, wishing the soon-arriving guests to view the mummy. However, to Jacques and Penelope’s shock, the mummy is gone. Penelope orders for the police to be called and the museum to be searched.

The mummy arrives in Dr. Carter’s office, where Dr. Carter is happily expositing his evil plan to himself.

As he’s about to leave to join the gala, the mummy confronts him, and a lot of unseen – but, no doubt, intense – shit goes down. Dr. Carter screams for help. Two cops arrive. One of them kicks down the door.

The cops are confused that there’s no one else in here. Dr. Carter just keeps screaming “Mummy!” Penelope and Cheryl arrive. As Penelope examines the smashed artifacts that she’d recently bought, she discovers they’re fakes. One of the cops discovers the mummy, who’s lying on a wooden board and clutching the invitation in his right hand. Penelope is relieved. Cheryl asks about the thing in his hand.

Penelope tells her. Cheryl asks why it’s in the mummy’s hand. Penelope says this is spooky. She guesses their “friend” was trying to warn them about Dr. Carter. Cheryl is outraged. She then asks her mom for her guess as to how the mummy got here. Penelope opens the locket hanging from the mummy’s neck and sees a picture of his queen inside. Penelope says “Cheryl, sometimes even hundreds of centuries won’t stop you from protecting the one you love.” Daaawww… Cheryl is left to ponder this, and the story ends.

This story is really nice. It doesn’t definitively state Cheryl is the reincarnation of the Egyptian queen (who might have even ruled as pharaoh in her own right); it just leaves it open-ended and gives Cheryl – and us – something to think about.

Regardless, though, why does the Egyptian queen look suspiciously like a modern Scottish-American teenager?

There’s a page of fan art between the two parts of this story and a “Flair for Hair” fashion page after it.

Comics – Psyc-Out

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Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)*
Pencils: Holly G!*
Inking: Rudy Lapick*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 22
Cover Date: May, 1999
Length: 5 pages

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

Before I get into the story, I need to address Cheryl’s eye color. Archie Comics had been terribly inconsistent in the classic comics regarding Cheryl’s eye color, switching between green and blue (and something in between as well). Her eye color even changes within the same issue! I prefer green, personally. In this story, her eyes are blue. Whatever her natural eye color is, I assume she sometimes wears color contact lenses.

Cheryl is sitting on her bed, drinking guava juice and reading a book called The Psychic World. Her dog Sugar is sitting on her own doggie bed to Cheryl’s right (still on top of Cheryl’s bed), eating caviar. Cheryl also has a book on angels and a book on the zodiac. Cheryl is fascinated by her psychic book and tells Sugar about it. Ooh, Sugar’s wearing a little blossom right below her neck. Cute. 🙂 Suddenly, a maid named Cindy knocks on Cheryl’s (open) door and relays a reminder from Penelope: Jamie’s waiting with the limo to take Cheryl to her hair appointment. Cheryl thanks her.

Cheryl puts on a coat, shoes, and sunglasses; takes her book, purse, and Sugar; and meets Jamie outside. Cheryl and Jamie greet each other. It’s not stated, but Jamie comes off as very British with her use of certain phrases.

As she drives Cheryl to her appointment, Jamie asks if the book is part of her school studies. Cheryl says it’s personal research. Cheryl asks why they’re stopped at a green light. Jamie gives it a moment. Suddenly, a guy ignores a red light and drives through the intersection. The car would have t-boned the limo if Jamie hadn’t waited. Cheryl is outraged but also gasps when she thinks of what would have happened. She mentions Jamie waited. Jamie tells “Miss Cheryl” that they’re in no rush.

While Cheryl and Sugar are getting their hair done, Cheryl thinks about the incident, wonders if Jamie is psychic, and consults her book.

Cheryl compliments Sue on a job well done and asks her to tell her driver that she’s ready. However, Jamie has already shown up to “collect” her and “Miss Sugar Blossom”, surprising Cheryl. Cheryl wonders how Jamie knew they were ready. Um, maybe Jamie looked through the window of the salon? Just a thought.

On the ride home, Cheryl’s interest is piqued, and she continues reading her book. Sugar looks adorable wearing the white bow that the lady at the salon gave her. Oh, and she has her own cushion in the limo.

Late that night, Cheryl turns on her lamp, being unable to sleep. She feels the need to test Jamie and shows up at her room with a bunch of cards with drawings on them. Jamie protests, because it’s 1:00 AM. Cheryl won’t have it, though. All that night, she tests Jamie with the cards (I’m guessing she goes through them multiple times), and Jamie gets 100%. Cheryl happily informs Jamie that she’s a true psychic. Jamie, however, has fallen asleep. Cheryl suddenly has an idea and excitedly wakes Jamie up to inform her of the Cheryl Blossom’s Psychic Friends Hot Line.

Cheryl declares they’ll make “tons of money”. In her excitement, she whacks Jamie in the head. Rather than apologize, Cheryl panics over Jamie possibly losing her psychic powers (she read that in her book) and wants Jamie to guess the number that she’s thinking of. Jamie’s faced with a dilemma: she hates lying to Cheryl but truly wishes no part of the psychic hot line. Jamie knows the number but states a different one. Cheryl cries over the fact that she “ruined” Jamie and destroyed their psychic hot line, thinking of the money that she’ll never make. Um, bitch, you’re loaded; any money that you make in the psychic business would be pennies for you.

Anyway, Jamie is unconcerned, envisioning a restful future. Sugar, seemingly reading Jamie’s mind, disputes that, because Jamie has pointed at her bed and seemingly manifested…something…under the covers. This is never followed up on.

This story is pretty cute. One fashion note: from her dress to her jammies, Cheryl definitely likes blue.

Comics – Twilite

Writer: Angelo Decesare
Pencils: Bill Galvan
Inks: Al Milgrom
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Archie & Friends, No. 146-147
Cover Date: October, November, 2010
Length: 44 pages (22, 22)

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Part 1

The story begins in an old, ivy-covered building, during a thunderstorm. A black-haired guy named Edwin reveals to a (largely-unseen, except for having long, brown hair) woman that he’s a vampire. After he vamps out, she screams.

It turns out that Veronica must have screamed, too, because it turns out that she and Betty were just watching a trailer for a new movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Vampires, on a laptop…in the hallway…at school. Isn’t that against the rules? Archie runs over to check on Veronica, and Betty informs him of what they’re doing.

Archie asks if they’re worried about having nightmares, but the girls are gaga over Edwin the vampire. Reggie and Jughead come by. Reggie plays himself up. Jughead talks about food. Archie wants the guys to explain the girls’ lady-boners for a vampire. Veronica basically says the guys would act the same over a female vampire, and she’s totally right. Jughead talks about food again: he likes chili burgers.

Veronica says they want other things in a guy besides good looks, and then they watch the trailer again before class. Ha.

In homeroom, Ms. Grundy introduces two new students, Ivan and Jared. Before we move on, I just gotta say the continuity between panels in this scene is absolute shit. Main characters move around, and extras appear and disappear. Oh, and, judging by the posters on the wall, Ms. Grundy teaches English, Science, and Math. One nice detail is it seems to be raining during this scene, I guess. It’s kinda unclear, and no one brings it up.

Veronica and Betty are shocked. However, rather than it being because Ivan looks kinda like Edwin, it’s because there are two new “hotties” in their homeroom. Apparently, Veronica (a teenager) asked Santa to bring her one. We get some facts about Jared (who has brown hair): he averages twenty minutes of sleep in Math class, he likes sports (especially football, hockey, and lacrosse), and he’s on an all-pizza diet. He and his family just started working at the local zoo, so he’ll try to get them all free admission on a school day. Two random students get excited over this, even though I don’t see how Jared can convince anyone to go along with this.

Reggie exclaims “Jared seems like a cool guy, yo!” Awww, look at Reggie, pretending to be “in tha hood”. Jared is now Jughead’s “hero” because of the all-pizza diet. Ivan declines to talk about himself and just finds his seat. Reggie makes fun of him, calling him “weird”. Archie tells Reggie to leave Ivan alone, guessing he’s just shy. They argue a bit. Jughead insults Reggie. Before we move on, I readily admit I had a hard time telling Chuck apart from a random black guy in this scene (assuming they weren’t just the same character whose cap appears and disappears and whose sweatshirt slightly changes its tone; this character is never actually addressed at all, let alone by name).

After school, Veronica asks Betty why she’s hanging out at the entrance instead of practicing one of her “sports thingies”. The girls argue over why they’re here. Then Ivan shows up, followed by a random white guy that’s dressed just like the random black guy in the previous scene. Nothing says “in tha hood” better that a sweatshirt with a hoodie and a red backwards cap.

As the girls watch Jared, Reggie, Archie, and four other guys (one of whom may or may not be Chuck) play frisbee (as high school kids are known to do at school), they discuss Jared and Ivan. Reggie goes “deep” to intercept the frisbee from Jared, and he and Ivan collide.

Reggie yells at Ivan, but Archie says it wasn’t his fault. Ivan accuses Jared in one of the weirdest lines ever: “You timed that perfectly…but you’re not the only one who can throw a frisbee!” Well, aren’t you a badass? Ivan throws the frisbee (behind his back!), and it soars into the distance. Chuck(?), who’s now suddenly wearing a blue cap backwards, wants to recruit Ivan as the new captain of their frisbee team. Frisbee team. Frisbee. Team. Anyway, even Jughead now thinks Ivan’s weird.

Archie tells Ivan to ignore those assholes. Ivan thanks Archie for defending him and advises him to keep away from Jared, saying he’s not what he appears to be. There are puddles on the walkway, and then it starts to rain. Jared says it’s starting to rain “again” and suggests they get going. So it was raining during the homeroom scene earlier.

Later that afternoon, as the rain’s coming down hard, a shadowy figure races through the streets to deliver “incredible” news.

Meanwhile, inside Pop’s (close to where the shadowy figure was running), Archie says Ivan and Jared are “definitely not friends”. No shit, Sherlock. Betty makes a dumb joke about marrying one of them and being unable to invite the other.

Reggie (the shadowy figure) arrives. Jughead asks “S’up, Reg?” Ooh, apostrophe catastrophe! The gang had thought Reggie was with his “new best friend”, Jared. He was, and Jared told him this about Ivan: They went to the same school. Ivan was always a “weird dude”. His family lived in an old Victorian house, and his parents came out only at night. Ivan dresses in black all of the time and tries to avoid the sun. Jared also supposedly heard a rumor that Ivan once tried to bite a girl on the neck. Reggie guesses Ivan might be a vampire, but he’s all “scary” about it, so no one believes him.

Jughead says that’s “whack”. Archie says vampires aren’t real. Veronica says she wouldn’t believe what Jared says, because he and Ivan are enemies. Reggie says Ivan has both girls under his spell. He warns the girls again and then puts on his hoodie and leaves. Hmm, what’s with all of the green sweatshirts with hoodies in this story? Archie thinks Reggie’s losing it. Jughead’s hiding under the table and asks the others if Reggie’s gone, even though he hid under the table only after Reggie started walking away from them.

Later that week, at the Riverdale Zoo, Ms. Grundy’s homeroom class arrives. She jokes a bit. A random student thanks Jared for coming through with the passes. Okay, but how did Jared convince Mr. Weatherbee to approve this trip? A random girl says this is better than sitting through French medieval history. How random. We learn from Archie and Jughead’s dialogue that, last time, Jughead swiped a banana from a chimp and got thrown out. Veronica and Betty have an agreement: they’ll both hang out with Ivan and let him choose between them.

Soon, as Ivan, Betty, and Veronica head toward the flying creatures exhibit, Veronica volunteers them as his zoo guides. Betty adds she worked here last summer on the maintenance crew, so she knows where all of the “best trash bins” are. Great pick-up line, Bets. Ivan declines their offer, but they won’t take no for an answer and invade his personal space. Reggie and Archie observe this, and Reggie twists it into Ivan hitting on the girls. Archie tells Reggie to shut up and stop trying to make him jealous.

Reggie warns Archie about Ivan. He also refers to Betty and Veronica as their two best friends. Archie accuses Reggie of being jealous and walks off. Jared comes by with a plan to out Ivan as a vampire. He thinks Ivan’s on his way to the world of darkness.

Sure enough, soon, Ivan and the girls arrive at The World of Darkness (the flying creatures exhibit). As they enter the building, Betty and Veronica gets into an argument over Ivan’s fascination with bats. According to Betty, Veronica screams when she sees a butterfly. Ivan talks about bats’ helpfulness to humans. Veronica pretends to be interested in what Ivan’s interested in. Jared and Reggie observe them from a distance. Jared got a key from his dad’s office. He’s gonna unlock the door to the room where the bats are kept. Reggie’s gonna turn out all of the lights, so it’s totally dark. Then Jared will grab Ivan and lock him in with the bats. Then Reggie will turn the lights back on. Reggie asks Jared how he’ll see Ivan in the dark. Jared says he’s strong, he’s fast, and he sees very well in the dark. In the panel in which he says this, his skin is pale, and his eyes are red, but this isn’t addressed. Instead, he’s back to normal in the next panel, and he wants to show Reggie where the main light switch is.

A few minutes later, Ivan and the girls are looking at the bats. Veronica asks him how bats communicate, he answers, and Betty makes a texting joke. Veronica tries to get romantic with Ivan. Suddenly, the lights go out. Jared grabs Ivan. Veronica calls out for Ivan. A loud slam is heard.

The lights come back on (“sort of”, according to Betty, which I guess is supposed to mean back-up lights, but it looks the same as normal). As the girls hold onto each other, Veronica asks where Ivan is.

Actually, he’s fine, and he’d locked Jared in the bat room. Ha. He doesn’t take credit for it, though. As the bats attack Jared, he calls out for help. Betty runs off to find a security guard. Veronica asks Ivan if the bats will hurt Jared. Ivan says no, but he fears Jared might hurt the bats. He focuses on Jared and the bats and dramatically commands “Rest!”

They fall asleep. Veronica asks Ivan how he did it. He says it doesn’t matter, says goodbye to her, and leaves. Betty arrives with the security guard. Betty asks Veronica what happened. Veronica has a hard time explaining.

The next day, after school, while dark storm clouds fill the sky, Veronica catches up with Ivan outside the forest outside town. She got worried when Ivan didn’t show up at school today. (We learn Archie used the “grandmother died” excuse three times while skipping school.) He stayed away because of what happened at the zoo, guessing people are pretty freaked out about it. Jared’s saying it proves Ivan’s a vampire, but most people (including her) don’t believe him. Ivan admits he’s a vampire, but he says he takes a “special substance” in place of feeding on human blood.

Veronica is unsure and says Jughead claims he was brought here by aliens. Ivan believes that. Veronica cares what happens to Ivan and says Jared is out to get him. Ivan says it’s because he knows Jared’s “terrible secret”. He says, if he doesn’t stop him, all of Riverdale is in “grave danger”. This surprises Veronica. The note at the end says it’s the end of “Book One”.

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Part 2

This doesn’t actually happen in the story.

Archie runs to confront Veronica and Ivan in the woods and separate them – just as Ivan and Veronica profess their eternal love for each other and Veronica calls Archie a “total loser”. Archie warns Veronica that Ivan’s a vampire and tries to get her away from him. Veronica vamps out, scaring the shit out of Archie.

Veronica wakes up in her skimpy lingerie and realizes she’s had another nightmare. Wait, so she was dreaming from Archie’s perspective? That’s weird. Anyway, she hasn’t had a “normal” dream since she started seeing Ivan. She wishes her subconscious mind would shut up.

She takes her diary out of a drawer in her night stand and says it’s beginning to read like a vampire novel. She silently reads her diary entries, which serve as a recap of Part 1. The artwork doesn’t quite match, though. Veronica is unsure whether Ivan really is a vampire or just doesn’t find her attractive. She finds him being a vampire to be more believable. She realizes she’s hurt Reggie (who’s not speaking to her) and Archie (who’s trying to be understanding).

At that moment, Archie and Jughead are driving through the deserted streets of Riverdale. Oddly, Archie asks Jughead why he should care if Veronica is dating a possible vampire. He debates whether to tell her and admits he might be jealous. Suddenly, something hits Archie’s car, seriously denting its hood. They then hear a loud howl.

Jughead says there’s something moving in front of Mr. Hoppelmyer’s house and compares it to a horror movie, saying they’re gonna be eaten. Archie points out that it’s just Ivan. Ivan looks beat up. Archie gets out of his car, runs over to help him, and asks what happened. Ivan says it was Jared and frantically looks for his phone.

Archie finds it, but it’s been crushed. Ivan says there goes his evidence. Mr. Hoppelmyer comes out and shakes his fist at them, saying he just called the police. He can’t see them, because the headlights from Archie’s car are shining from behind them. Ivan has life-and-death shit to discuss with Archie and begs him to get him out of here. As the police siren is heard, Jughead mistakes it for an ice cream truck (fucking dumbass). Archie corrects him, and the three of them get in his car and speed off.

Ivan explains things. Jared is a werewolf, and Ivan enrolled at Riverdale High to keep track of him. Because of the full moon tonight, Ivan knew Jared would be transforming, so he followed him, hoping to get it on his phone. Jared sensed his presence and attacked him. Then Jared ran off, scared by Archie’s headlights. Ivan wishes Jared would let him help him to get better.

Ivan says Jared can’t accept what he is, so he wants to use video of the transformation and a threat of exposure to make him seek a cure. Archie is dubious, says good luck, and drops him off at home. Ivan begs for Archie’s help, saying Jared is getting stronger and more violent with each transformation. He’s gonna try to record Jared again tomorrow (despite what he says, it’ll technically be a waning gibbous moon). Archie asks what if Jared attacks him (Archie). Ivan says he has a plan.

The following afternoon, at Pop’s, Archie meets with the girls. Betty thinks Ivan’s just getting back at Jared by making up a story of his own. Archie is unsure and notices Veronica seems out of it. Veronica is in tears, because Ivan won’t see her and doesn’t return her calls or answer her texts.

Archie’s sure Ivan’s doing it to protect her. Veronica says Archie should stay out of it, too. Archie says he promised he’d help Ivan. Citing the “pretty weird stuff” that went on last night, Archie somewhat believes Ivan’s story. Ivan wants Archie to meet him at the zoo and record Jared’s transformation while Ivan distracts him. Betty jokes about it. Archie says he’s gotta go home and borrow his dad’s camcorder. He tells the girls to not say anything to Reggie, who’s in the booth behind the girls and overhears (despite the fact that the booth was clearly empty on the previous page).

That evening, “under another full moon”, Archie waits with “his” camcorder on a hill overlooking the Riverdale Zoo. Archie realizes he’s an idiot for helping the guy that took Veronica away from him.

Suddenly, Betty, Veronica, and an unwilling Jughead arrive (they told him that they were going to an all-you-can-eat buffet). Archie says he appreciates their support but doesn’t need it. Betty sees someone. Archie realizes it’s Jared and starts recording him. He wonders where Ivan is. Betty sees someone else. Archie realizes it’s Reggie.

Reggie warns Jared about the “set-up”, although Reggie somehow thinks Archie wants to record Jared and Ivan “fighting” and use it against Jared. Jared says Reggie shouldn’t have come here. Reggie tipped the cops off about “Dracula” regarding last night’s disturbance, and they just picked him up for questioning. Jared is pissed, saying Ivan will tell the cops about him. Reggie exclaimed “Back off, yo! I did you a favor!” I wonder if Reggie listens to phat beats and dope jams in his car. Jared wolfs out and tells Reggie to run. Reggie gets a funny line: “I–I’d love to…b-but I’m kinda frozen with fear here…”

Jared wolfs out, scaring Reggie.

Archie yells at Reggie to get outta there. Veronica expresses concern for Reggie and screams. This interrupts Jared before he can kill Reggie. Archie says they’ve got to get to his car now. Veronica believes Jared will never be able to climb the wall surrounding the zoo’s property. Archie says they can’t take that chance and pushes her. The four of them run up the hill.

Jared jumps over the wall. The gang has almost reached Archie’s car.

Archie’s plan is to drive while someone else calls the police. Jared jumps on the roof of Archie’s car before they can get in.

Ivan comes out of nowhere and tackles Jared to the ground. He asks Archie if he got the transformation on video, which he did. Ivan tells Jared and says it’s over.

Ivan advises the gang to go; he’ll stay with Jared until he transforms back, and then they’ll discuss things. Archie asks where he was. Ivan explains. Archie asks how he got away from the cops. Ivan would “rather not answer that” but thanks Archie for being such a good friend. Veronica asks Ivan about them. He says the only way that she could share his life is if she was a vampire, too, and he can’t ask her to do that. She says black isn’t her most flattering color. As the gang leaves, Veronica says goodbye and tells Ivan that she’ll never forget him.

A few nights later, Archie is driving himself, Veronica, Reggie, Betty, and Jughead to a hitherto-unmentioned dance. Veronica’s staying only long enough to show off her new designer gown, and then she’s leaving. A bat flies in front of Archie’s car, surprising him and Veronica.

Soon, at Riverdale High School, Veronica puts the kabosh on any dances tonight. She just wants to sit here looking “depressed but gorgeous”.

But Ivan has shown up at the Autumn Dance, surprising Veronica. He was hoping to have “one final dance” with her (um, I guess they’d danced together at some point) and do a better job with their goodbye. Veronica’s delighted to see him but asks why he didn’t tell her that he was coming. As they start to dance, Ivan says “I really don’t like to make plans, Veronica. Sometimes it’s best just to wing it!” Ugh. Veronica’s stunned expression says it all.

This story was okay. As a parody of Twilight, I wasn’t expecting much.

Comics – The Case of the Sorrel Roan

Riverdale-3.jpg
Writer: Bill Ewing
Art: Thomas Pitilli
Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Letters: John Workman
Original Publication: Riverdale, No. 3
Cover Date: July, 2017
On-Sale Date: June 7, 2017
Length: 10 pages

In the office of The Blue and Gold (Riverdale High’s newspaper), on Tuesday night, at 9:45 PM, Betty is working, and Jughead is eating and drinking. Jughead’s miffed that he has to cover “the banalities of high school” instead of spending 100% of his time writing about Jason. They argue about it for a bit. Betty gets on Jughead’s case about being wordy. She also namedrops Ms. Haggly as their English teacher. She’s a teacher from the classic comics. Then Cheryl walks in (for some reason, this warrants a gasp from Betty), wearing mostly black (except for a red band in her black hat) and holding a red purse, and says “#Bughead? I need your help…” I fucking love Cheryl.

Cheryl thinks her dad is having an affair. She cites his being distant as well as abruptly ending phone calls whenever he sees her. Cheryl is in tears, and she says she won’t trouble “Mother” with this until she has proof. Supposedly, Clifford has Sheriff Keller “bought and paid for”, so going to the police is out. Citing the “almost Hitchcockian interest” that Betty and Jughead have taken in her family since “Jay-Jay” died, she figures maybe helping her with this is the least that they could do. Betty is uncertain, saying it isn’t really what they do. Jughead privately suggests to Betty that a potential affair possibly coinciding with Jason’s death might be worth knowing. Betty agrees but tells Jughead that he’s covering next Friday’s volleyball game. Jughead agrees to take the case but tells Cheryl that she’ll possibly be charged fees.

At the Riverdale Men’s Athletic Club, on Wednesday morning, at 6:15 AM, Betty and Jughead spy on Clifford swimming laps in the pool. Jughead references The Maltese Falcon. Betty makes a comment. Jughead starts to respond to it.

He finishes it outside The Five Seasons restaurant at 8:17 AM (okay, that was damn sloppy). Betty tells him to shut the fuck up. They observe Clifford going inside. They go inside and, sitting at another table, witness Clifford and Mayor Sierra McCoy making boring business talk over (according to Jughead) a breakfast of egg whites, although it looks like they’re having drinks.

Jughead wonders a bit about their futures and then wonders if Clifford and Sierra are using their business dealings as a smokescreen. Betty wonders, too, since Mr. McCoy is always on the road. She decides to follow her and tells Jughead to follow Mr. Blossom. Jughead starts to object. Betty asks if he’s gonna miss her. He says nope, but he thinks maybe.

On the Old Mill Road, at 10:23 AM, Jughead observes Clifford out “in in the woods” [sic]. The rain starts pouring. Jughead starts taking pictures with his cell phone. He observes Clifford going to a house. Jughead has already skipped Woodshop and Algebra, and Ms. McCone would “kill” Jughead if he missed Biology. What the fuck is Jughead talking about? He’s got a male teacher for Biology, and it’s possibly during fifth period.

It turns out that Clifford came to see a certain female – a Sorrel Roan horse. Oh, and he’s also fucking her owner, Ellen. Jughead gets pics.

At Pop’s, over burgers, fries, and sodas, Betty informs Jughead that she’d followed Mayor McCoy back to city hall, where she lied to her and got to snoop around her office for a few minutes. She saw her calendar. Sierra and Clifford have a standing breakfast meeting, once per month, on the books. She starts to repeat Jughead’s earlier theory of them using it as a cover, but he shows her the pics on his phone. Betty’s shocked and…I’m sorry, is that a cigar that she’s holding? I guess it’s supposed to be a burnt fry, but who holds a fry like that?

Betty feels awful for “poor Cheryl”; she’d been hoping to prove Cheryl wrong. Jughead’s all cynical and shit. Betty asks him what they tell her. Jughead says they present her with their findings.

At the Riverdale High gymnasium, on Thursday afternoon, at 3:20 PM, after River Vixens practice, Jughead starts to prepare Cheryl for the truth. Cheryl is upset. Jughead and Betty sadly look at each other. Jughead shows Cheryl a pic of Clifford and Ellen on his phone. Cheryl brightens up, relieved. She grins. Jughead starts to tell her to do something, but Betty cuts him off and asks Cheryl why she’s relieved. Ellen is Cheryl’s dressage coach. Clifford had told Cheryl that he was getting her an early birthday present this week. He’d spent a lot of time picking it out. She guesses he must be buying her a horse, and that’s why he’s been shady around her. Jughead tells her to keep swiping right, but Betty tells her that she’ll see the horse and advises against ruining the surprise. She takes the phone out of Cheryl’s hands. Cheryl agrees. She’s so excited and happy, and she tells them that they’re the best. She waves goodbye and leaves.

That night, at The Blue and Gold, at 8:33 PM, Betty and Jughead are at they’re usual tasks (working and pigging out, respectively). It’s raining hard. Jughead tells Betty that she did the wrong thing with Cheryl. Betty angrily disputes that, saying maybe Cheryl deserves a break and a chance to believe her father is decent. Jughead says they’re stewards of the truth. While Betty says, as journalists, the truth is absolute, she also says “I think that, as friends, the truth can sometimes be less important than…protection. That’s what we did for Cheryl…” Jughead agrees. I disagree. That’s not being a good friend (and Betty does consider Cheryl her friend). Betty really should have taken Cheryl aside privately, shown her the pics, and offered her a hug and a shoulder to cry on. If Cheryl finds out the truth independently, she’ll realize Betty and Jughead concealed it from her, and she might get angry at them. Being confronted with the truth might be harder on Cheryl in the short term, but, in the long term, she’ll know she has a true friend that will be honest with her, no matter what.

Anyway, they banter as they get back to covering “the banalities of high school”.

This was a nice story! My only real issue, of course, is Betty’s decision to conceal the truth from Cheryl.

So…what happened to the “Destruction!” story promised in the previous issue?

After the story is a lightweight, six-page look at the characters (including the introduction page), a one-page cover gallery, and the cover for the next issue.

Comics – Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 10

Betty-and-Veronica-Vixens-10.jpgWriter: Jamie Lee Rotante
Art: Sanya Anwar
Colors: Elaina Unger
Letters: Rachel Deering
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 10
Cover Date: November, 2018
On-Sale Date: September 26, 2018
Length: 18 pages

Before the story, there’s a recap of the previous issue on the credits page.

Sanya Anwar is back on art for the final issue.

Let’s get into it:

A crowd of people (probably mostly females) gather on a street in downtown Riverdale, hold signs, and chant in support of the Vixens. Of note, I can clearly recognize Ginger Lopez and Harper Lodge (Veronica’s wheelchair-bound cousin), who otherwise hadn’t appeared in this series until now. That might or might not be Josie McCoy standing behind Ginger.

People watch a news report on a TV in the window of a store (side note: LOL at the small, old-fashioned TV on sale for $50). RTV reporter Bobbi Suarez reports live just outside Riverdale, where a devastating explosion has decimated the abandoned Pickens Civil War Cabin on Crystal Lake, which was set to become a historical landmark. Doc’s been arrested. All of the captured women have been found and returned to safety. An anonymous source (who provided video footage) reveals the Vixens’ involvement and their identities; Betty, Midge, Ethel, Toni, Veronica (the leader), and Cheryl are outed as Vixens. Cheryl isn’t on the video, but she’s represented on the newscast through the use of an autographed photo of her in her cheerleading outfit. The girls’ whereabouts are currently unknown. Before we move on, a side note: Riverdale’s local station is usually called WRIV.

The ladies are hanging out in a field somewhere, watching the sunset or sunrise. Eve, bored, asks the “babes” if they’re done sight-seeing yet. She, Betty, Veronica, Ethel, Midge, and Toni are the only clearly-identifiable people in this scene. There’s no sign of Cheryl.

There’s a boom, which gets their attention. Is it thunder? Who knows? Toni asks Ethel if she still wants to sleep. Ethel refuses. The girls mount their bikes and ride off.

On the road, they come across another all-girl biker gang, and it turns out that they’re friendly to the Vixens.

One month later, at Riverdale High School, on the last day of school, Reggie asks the “suckers” about their summer plans. Archie doesn’t have much planned. Reggie guesses Archie’s still moping over Betty and Veronica, but Reggie’s moved on. Nancy misses them and tells Reggie to shut the fuck up. Archie and Reggie talk a bit more, and Reggie’s glad that Betty and Veronica didn’t get Nancy all caught up in their mess. Oh, yeah, Chuck has a silent cameo in this scene.

Later, Nancy is walking around downtown. A white guy in a car harasses her, and she takes a camera out of her bag and takes an old-fashioned Polaroid of him, temporarily blinding him. Do they even make those kind of cameras anymore? And why does Nancy have one?

She goes to Ambrose Mechanics. Ambrose lets her in and says “They’re upstairs.” Nancy goes upstairs and into a room. Harper says she knew Nancy would show up eventually.

It turns out that she, Ginger, Harper, and Brigitte Reilly are keeping a watch on the neighborhood watch. Nancy hands over the photo of a guy that’s been on a power trip, and Ginger adds it onto the “Wall of Shame”.

Harper is basically the Oracle of the group, handling their Internet operations. She sends out mass e-mails. Brigitte checks their message board. Ambrose comes in with drinks and offers to help, but they’ve got it covered. This is their safe space. He misses Bubbles, and he’s offering his services because of her. Ginger tries to assure him that she’s fine. She wonders where the Vixens are.

One month later, the Vixens are riding through Milwaukee. Through Betty’s narration, we learn they were surprised to meet so many like-minded individuals. She also immediately contradicts the one month later time placement, since it’s been only one month since they left Riverdale, and there had already been a time jump of one month just a few pages earlier. Anyway, the ladies love every minute of their summer on the open road.

A map shows the girls’ cross-country journey (without going through Milkwaukee). Riverdale seems to be on the New York – New Jersey border. Anyway, they do various charitable things along the way: building houses, putting up puppies and kittens for adoption (this seems to be the only appearance of Cheryl), running a toy drive, and lecturing bullies. They wanted their message to be one of positive change.

Betty says a few of them even decided to stick around some of the states that they visited, and Betty can’t blame them, but she admits they get a little homesick. At the Port of San Francisco, she, Veronica, Midge, Ethel, and Toni hang out. A little girl comes up to them, knowing Veronica and Betty’s names. The Vixens are “kind of” her heroes.

She brings up a video on her tablet. In the interview for RTV, Ginger says they want to continue the work that the Vixens started. They’ve started a collective to connect young women “and those who identify as such”. They offer advice, helpful tips, and safe spaces. They meet up every Wednesday at Pop’s to brainstorm. The town has been incredibly supportive of their efforts. Even Mr. Weatherbee is involved. Ginger concludes by saying this wouldn’t have happened without the Vixens.

The video continues with a message of support for Betty from Hal and Alice Cooper. The unnamed mayor (possibly Elena Martinez from 2012’s “Occupy Riverdale” story in Archie, No. 635) says Hiram Lodge announced the dismantling of the neighborhood watch committee. Hiram announces Hermione is forming a new committee to fulfill the needs of everyone. Hermione briefly talks about it but then addresses Veronica, saying she and Hiram miss her terribly. Hiram says they’re glad that Veronica is their daughter, admits he was wrong, and says the Vixens are welcome back in Riverdale any time.

Once the video ends, the girl asks the Vixens where they’re going next. Betty and Midge look at each other. Veronica says “Home.”

During sunset or sunrise, as the girls ride, Midge asks what comes next. Toni suggests summer school like she’s not sure, but I’m pretty sure they flunked all of their classes, and summer school ain’t gonna help them. Anyway, Veronica asks what then. Betty says “Senior year.” The Vixens ride into Riverdale. The end.

Before I get into the story, here’s the extras. After the story is a one-page cover gallery for this issue and another Riverdale Gazette article (dated September of 2018); this one features two roller derby teams, Southern Harm Derby Dames of South Atlanta, GA, and Coal Miners’ Daughters of Gillette, WY. Jamie Lee Rotante thanks the readers and looks forward to “next time” (meaning her new Betty & Veronica series, which will apparently be a five-issue miniseries). Finally, there’s an ad for the Vixens Volume Two trade paperback.

I think this issue felt way too rushed. Then again, it was doomed to be that way, considering it had to wrap everything up. Being only 18 pages long certainly didn’t help, and there were a few pages where not much happened, so better use of space could have been made. Cheryl got lost somewhere along the way (did she stay behind in one of those states?), despite being prominently featured on the front cover. So did Eve. Bubbles didn’t even appear.

I think this series would have worked better in an episodic, rather than serial, format. We basically got two storylines over ten issues, which took ten months to come out. Rather than dragging things out, have each issue be mostly self-contained; simply let the overall threat and stakes escalate from issue to issue without being tied to one storyline.

Another approach would be been to do a series of pulp novels, released cheaply as e-books and a bit more expensive for POD physical copies. Even one novel would have been able to go into more depth than this comic series, which totals 192 comic pages.

There seem to have been problems behind the scenes after issue #5. Jen Vaughn replaced Eva Cabrera on art for #6 and #7. Then Vaughn was replaced by Sanya Anwar for #8; Anwar was already credited in the solicitation for #9, except Eva Cabrera returned to do the interior art. Then Anwar came back for the final issue. Also, Elaina Unger needed help from Matt Herms coloring the art on issues #7 and #9. Add to all of that the occasional issue (even before #6) that began with a page that seemingly had nothing to do with the story (suggesting the script ran short, so some unused cover art was stuck in to boost the page count), and everything feels kind of clunky.

Still, overall, I enjoyed the series. It seems to be in continuity with the upcoming Betty & Veronica miniseries (which, being explicitly set during senior year and dealing with graduation, is perhaps set outside “normal” continuity, not that it really matters). I look forward to seeing what the girls do next!