Comics – Roughing It!

BV-Friends-Digest-262.jpgWriter: Bill Golliher
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: B&V Friends Jumbo Comics Digest, No. 262
On-Sale Date: June 13, 2018
Length: 5

I’m sorry that this is a bit late.

Before we get into the story, please pay attention to the front cover. It seems Jeff Shultz put in a bit of Choni as a reference to their relationship on Riverdale.

Outside Lodge Manor, Betty and Veronica are going over a checklist of their camping supplies. Archie, Reggie, and Jughead come by. Reggie looks like he does in Dan Parent’s previous series, Your Pal Archie. Archie asks if this is a family camping trip. Veronica says it’s a girls-only camping trip that she and Betty put together. Reggie laughs, asking how they’ll survive. The girls are confident.

Jughead asks who’s doing the pedicures, which amuses Reggie and Archie but pisses off Betty and Veronica. Veronica says they’ll have a great guy-free weekend at Pickens’ Mountain State Park. Midge, Ethel, and Nancy arrive. Archie asks if they’re really up for this, and Midge says they’re all set. The girls pack up and leave. Meanwhile, Reggie checks his phone and is amused by the weather forecast for the mountain, which…upsets…or…worries Archie (it’s hard to tell what his expression is conveying). Anyway, some of the girls wave from the van, and Jughead waves at them.

The girls arrive at the mountain as it’s starting to rain. They get the tent set up just in time, because the rain’s really coming down now. They’re dry but also cold. They can’t make a campfire or s’mores. Betty’s worried, because they set up at the bottom of the hill. Veronica says it’s nice and level. Betty’s concerned the rain is coming down awfully hard and running downhill.

Then the rain starts pouring into the tent, getting everything wet. Betty fears the boys will never let them live it down if they don’t stick it out. Fortunately, Veronica has a “secret insurance policy”. She calls Smithers (she’s damn lucky that they have phone service here) and tells him to proceed with Project Camp Out in Style.

Soon, Smithers arrives in a luxury RV. The girls make a short dash in the rain. Smithers invites them in for a hot shower. After they shower, the girls give each other pedicures and enjoy hot drinks and microwaved s’mores. They look forward to telling the guys about it.

Not much to this story, and the C-listers really don’t get a chance to shine, but it’s nice enough.

Tune in next Wednesday!

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Comics – Betty the Vampire Slayer vs. Vampironica

Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colors: Tom Chu
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica, No. 261-262
Cover Date: October, December, 2012
On-Sale Date: August 15, 2012; October 17, 2012
Length: 48 pages (24, 24)

I’m sorry that this is a bit late.

Betty-and-Veronica-261.jpg
Part 1: Vamp It Up

This part is itself split into two parts, 12 pages each.

Betty and Veronica are spending a day at the beach. Betty comes back to Veronica, having just bought ice cream and enjoying it immensely (it looks like an orange sherbet bar, yum). Veronica is on her hands and knees, checking out guys (no doubt, she’s assuming the position ahead of time). Notably, Betty’s bikini top has a flower (or blossom) on it. Betty teases Veronica about her dilemma in choosing between two guys. Then Archie comes by, settling the contest in Veronica’s mind (because Archie’s sooo much hotter than those other two guys).

Archie announces they’re going to have a bonfire on the beach tonight, promising burgers, s’mores, and himself. Wait, is this Archie or Reggie? Betty cozies up to Archie, settling for him while really wanting a s’more. Neither Archie nor Veronica seem to mind.

That night, “all” of Betty and Veronica’s friends are at the bonfire (not really). Jughead’s listening to music, which seems to be a trait that he got during The New Archies. Veronica and Jughead rib on each other a bit, and then she throws a s’more for him to fetch. He goes after it.

Veronica notices Betty’s already cozied up to Archie. Betty says Veronica’s taught her very well. Reggie offers to warm Veronica up, but she passes and goes for a moonlight stroll along the beach.

She spots some people surfing at night: dark-haired Lucas, blonde-and-black-haired Charlotte (yeah, it’s weird), token black Nathanial, and blond ponytailed Ashton. We learn Veronica surfs as well (which is nothing new). Veronica invites them to the bonfire. Charlotte accepts and tells Nathanial that these “day-timers” look like fun. Ashton reminds him that they don’t “prey” on them. Nathanial says not until they allow them.

The newcomers are welcomed to the bonfire. Charlotte asks Nancy for a steak. When Nancy offers to prepare it, Charlotte just takes a raw steak and gobbles it down, grossing Nancy out and surprising Veronica and Betty. Licking her lips, Charlotte drops the bone on the sand.

Ashton flirts with Betty. Ethel and Midge freak out over incoming bats, which materialize into two guys and a girl. Apparently, none of the gang sees this happen. Lucas tells the gang to get the fuck out of here. A huge brawl ensues, so Archie decides they’re gonna get the fuck out of here. As they run off, Lucas tells Veronica to meet her tomorrow night at pier 19 (no specific time). Veronica agrees. The blond newcomer with the goatee takes note of this, turns into a bat, and heads for Veronica. Midge warns her (again, seemingly not seeing the transformation).

The bat attacks Veronica, and Jughead just fucking stands around and makes a joke. The bat bites Veronica on the neck and makes off with a clump of her hair. Archie offers to take Veronica to the hospital, and Betty says she’ll call her parents.

Later, Hermione and Hiram pick up Veronica, who suffered only a “flesh wound”. Jughead makes a joke about the “poor bat” that bit Veronica, which, for some reason, amuses Betty. Veronica takes it seriously, though, expressing concern for the “poor bat”, which surprises Jughead. He explains he was kidding and marvels that Veronica didn’t snap back at him. He suggests maybe she’s not all right. Gripping his arms, she insists she’s fine and thanks him for asking. Betty notes to Hermione that Veronica has a strange look in her eyes. Hermione takes Veronica home for some rest.

The next day, Veronica wakes up, feeling better, but the sun is too bright for her.

When Veronica comes downstairs, Hermione notes she looks so pale and suggests more rest, but Veronica insists she’s fine.

They go into the kitchen. Veronica passes on breakfast and instead sloppily gulps down a glass of tomato juice, which looks like, well, y’know. She says she has to meet the gang at the beach today but, upon seeing the bright sun again, decides to take it easy inside instead.

Veronica spends all day watching movies in the dark in the den (she’s currently watching Nosferatu). When Hermione relates this to Hiram, he approves, saying Veronica “needs this down time”.

Veronica comes out of the den and asks her mom for the time, because, y’know, it’s not like she could find that out on a TV channel or anything. Hermione says it’s almost evening (no specific time). Veronica goes to meet Lucas, and Hermione tells her to be back early.

Lucas is relieved to see Veronica. He has no choice but to reveal a secret to her.

She’s in disbelief that he’s a vampire and laughs it off, saying “that’s a new one”. Um, sweetie, did you forget about a little incident?

Anyway, Lucas proves it to her by turning into a bat and then back again. She’s scared, but he wants to help her. She’s already been bitten by Damien (the blond guy with the goatee), the leader of the Lucificus gang. She’s confused. He explains they’re the bad guys, and Lucas and his gang are the good guys. She’s not convinced but decides to trust him.

He explains Veronica’s on her way to becoming a vampire. Veronica freaks out, because she hates the sight of blood. Lucas says, if the bite on her neck is treated in the next 24 hours, the curse is lifted. He gives her a special red choker to wear around her neck – a “mystical bandage”. He says it has to be followed by a kiss from him. He’s totally bullshitting her on that last part, but he kisses her, and she doesn’t object.

A couple days later, Lucas comes into Pop’s and is surprised to find Ashton hanging out with Betty. Lucas asks if anyone’s seen Veronica. Betty says no and adds, every time that she calls her, she’s in bed, and she doesn’t want to leave the house. Lucas is confused, because the curse was supposed to be lifted.

Just then, Veronica shows up, dressed as Elvis and Elvira’s love child. Betty asks about her get-up. Jughead insults it. Veronica scares him with a simple “I don’t like you!” Lucas finds this strange. Betty invites Veronica to the movies tomorrow, but Veronica will have to check with Reggie, her “man”. A topless Reggie is suddenly there. Betty asks him if he lost his shirt in a windstorm. Reggie’s like “Shirts are for unsexy people!” Pop kicks him out. Veronica tells Reggie to come along. The two of them leave Pop’s, turn into bats, and fly off. Lucas witnesses this and vows to protect the kids without panicking them.

While Betty’s enjoying her milkshake or soda float, Lucas takes Ashton outside and fills him in. Lucas tells Charlotte to watch over the others, and then he and Ashton go to the cove, the hangout of the Lucificus gang.

Lucas and Ashton arrive at the cove. Ashton, a vampire, is scared. Damien shows up. Lucas questions him about Veronica, but Damien feigns innocence. Ashton flies into their hangout (a stone mansion) and calls to Lucas. Lucas goes in and finds Veronica, Reggie, Chuck, and Nancy in a cell.

A female, white-haired vampire scientist (yeah) comes by and explains they’re harvesting vampire clones of the Riverdale gang through the use of DNA from hair follicles and a mix of human and vampire blood. Harvesting clones? More accurately, they’re harvesting DNA and blood for the purpose of creating clones.

Anyway, they’re currently working on “a Moose model”. Damien’s job is to bite them and grab some hair and a little blood. Then Maddy, their scientist, does the rest. Damien uses a device to beam some portable daylight at Lucas and Ashton. He then orders them locked inside their coffins, which, I guess, are here at the rival gang’s mansion?

Back at Pop’s, Charlotte’s vampire sense is tingling, and she takes Betty to show her how to protect herself. Betty’s confused.

Charlotte snaps off a tree branch and whittles a stake for Betty, explaining she has to protect herself from those “rogue vampires”. Betty is further confused. Bitch, you shouldn’t be. Charlotte tells her to plunge the stake right through the heart, and Betty is grossed out by it. Charlotte runs off, saying she’ll be back as soon as she can. She leaves a confused Betty behind.

“Chuck” and “Nancy” show up, and Betty immediately notices they look creepy. “Veronica” and “Reggie” show up. Betty points the stake outward and tries to sound like she’ll defend herself, but “Veronica” says Betty couldn’t hurt a flea. Betty raises the stake and warns her to stay away. “Veronica” introduces herself as “Vampironica”.

Betty-and-Veronica-262.jpg
Part 2: Fangs a Lot, Vampironica

The first page and the first third of the second page are taken up by a recap of part 1 (using new artwork). Already, there’s a screw-up; the recap shows a waning crescent in part 1, whereas it was actually a full moon. Part 2 continues using a waning crescent.

Betty again threatens to use the stake unless Vampironica stays the fuck away from her, but Vampironica says she doesn’t have the guts. Betty warns Vampironica to not test her. Suddenly, she smells the garlic pizza that Jughead is casually eating inside Pop’s, seemingly unconcerned about the fight happening outside.

Betty runs inside and swipes the rest of his pizza, pissing him off. She runs outside and sloppily flings the slices at the vampires. Repulsed, they turn into bats and fly away. Vampironica bites off a bit of Betty’s hair on her way out.

Nathanial comes by, showing concern for Betty. Betty tells him about the “bad dream” that she’s having. He turns into a bat to show her that he’s a vampire. She decides to “play along” as long as she’s dreaming. He transforms back into human form and says he’s on her side. He explains about the clones (how does he know about that?) and will lead her to the Lucificus gang’s mansion, but she goes to grab some garlic from Pop’s kitchen first (did she pay him?), because it’s “a little less violent” than the stake, even though she’s supposedly bringing that as well (although we don’t see her holding it; is she using it as a dildo?).

Outside the mansion, Charlotte is hiding behind a tree and concerned for Betty’s safety. She has to see what the Lucificus gang’s up to.

She peaks inside and sees Damien putting Lucas and Ashton, who have been “disabled”, in caskets. She sees the Riverdale gang behind bars and Damien adding Mr. Weatherbee and Ms. Grundy to the cell. Damien explains they need some more “prominent” citizens to clone. Vampironica and the Reggie, Chuck, and Nancy clones arrive. Vampironica explains what happened. Maddy asks if she got some of Betty’s hair. Vampironica shows it off. Damien excitedly says they can get started on a Betty vampire. Um, how, if you don’t have her blood?

Seeing this shit’s getting out of control, Charlotte decides to put an end to it, but she’s daylighted by one of the gang members. Damien orders her stuck in a casket next to her friends.

Meanwhile, Betty stops by her house, so her parents won’t be worried, on her way to battle a gang of vampires and save her friends. Um, priorities, girl.

Nathanial explains, when morning comes, they all go into their “sleep mode”. Betty’s plan is to pretend to go to sleep and then sneak out. Despite it going against her better judgment, she’s making an exception, because this is an emergency. What the fuck, girl?! You’re honest and squeaky clean to a goddamn fault!

Anyway, running inside, Betty tells Nathanial that she’ll meet him outside in an hour. Nathanial tells her to hurry.

Inside, Alice is relieved to see Betty. They were getting worried. Betty excuses herself, saying she doesn’t feel well, and goes to bed.

Later, after completely changing clothes and putting on her bookbag, Betty announces her plan to sneak down the trellis as she’s doing it. Nathanial manhandles her and makes a run for it.

When they arrive at the mansion, Betty’s creeped out. Nathanial tells her to stay in the woods while he checks out the situation. He claims they’d spot her too easily. Okay, whatever.

Eventually, Betty get bored. Damien and the guy that daylighted Charlotte show up. Betty’s not bored anymore. She asks what happened to Nathanial. Damien says they’ve taken care of him. He picks her up and carries her back to the mansion over his shoulder. Betty demands to be put down, saying she’s got a babysitting job later today. Okay, that’s kinda stupid but kinda funny at the same time.

Apparently, Damien sets her down once they get into the mansion, because she runs up to Nathanial, who’s not locked up. Veronica explains he’s a traitor. Betty’s pissed. Damien has the other dude lock her up. Veronica is glad to see Betty and hugs her, fearing it’s the end. Vampironica is amused by it. Veronica makes a fist and tells the “second-rate copy” to shut the fuck up. Vampironica claims she’s “the new and improved version” of her. Veronica insults her appearance, so a pissed Vampironica goes into her cell and kicks her ass with her…mad karate skills?

Betty takes off her bookbag and searches for her garlic, but “Reggie” claims his buddies disposed of it back in the woods. Betty finds her stake (which makes its first appearance in 11 pages) and asks if they were too stupid to dispose of it. “Reggie” says she wouldn’t dare, mists into the cell, and demands she hand it over. In their struggle over the stake, she accidentally stakes him and then tries to apologize for it. *facepalm* Bitch, kill all of these bastards!

Betty warns Damien to look out behind him for Jughead and Archie sneaking up with garlic. *facepalm* Bitch, shut the fuck up!

Anyway, Jughead claims to have found them by following the scent of garlic (he has a “very sensitive nose”). Veronica, surprising herself, exclaims “Yay for Jughead!!”

Veronica slaps the “vampire slayer” five for destroying the Reggie clone vampire. Damien says they’ll have a replacement soon. Also, their Betty vampire clone, which Vampironica gets a lady-boner for, is almost complete. How the fuck did they make her without Betty’s blood?

Anyway, Vampironica is eager to see some Betty-on-Betty action and wants to set her loose.

After they wait for the Betty vampire clone to put on some stylish clothes (including replacing her pink hairband with white pearls), Damien makes the introductions. “Betty” looks like she wants to shake hands, so Betty offers her her hand and says “Uh…pleased to meet me!” “Betty” punches the “goodie two shoes” right in the fucking face. She then takes a liking to Archie, wanting to have him as her pet.

Why the fuck are Archie and Jughead not doing anything?! They have a shitload of garlic!

Anyway, Vampironica and vampire Betty fight over Archie, because it’s “in their DNA” (according to Jughead). The two vampire gals beat the shit out of each other. Damien tells them to knock this shit off, becausing they’re embarrassing them all. The vampire gals then beat the shit out of him. Jughead is entertained.

Jughead passes out garlic to the people in the cell and tells them to start throwing it around, because he’s too fucking lazy to do it himself. Only now does the final battle against the vampires begin.

Archie notices the sun’s starting to come up. Damien orders a retreat. Archie looks to Veronica for guidance. She tells him to grab the nearby, large, obvious keys to the cell. He lets everyone out. Betty says they have to save the good vampires. Chuck says they’re in their caskets. Betty says they have to take them out. Veronica tells Moose and Archie (I guess) to go back and get Moose’s van, so they can move four caskets.

Later, Moose and Archie load the caskets in the back of Moose’s van. Moose points out that this won’t look good if they get stopped. Veronica wonders where they should bring them.

While Moose is driving them, Veronica decides on the cave on Riverdale Beach. Then she jumps to the back to sit with Jughead, so Betty can sit with Archie (yeah, I know it’s an artistic error), and adds close by to where they surf. Jughead then asks what about the bad guys back at the mansion. He then answers his own question (I think someone else was meant to ask the question) by saying he’s going back to “garlic-up the place”. He’ll need garlic from every store in town.

They arrive at the beach and put the caskets in the cave. I need to point out an error. There are only three caskets shown, both during the ride in the van and in the cave. That’s correct: there are three good vampires. The error is Veronica earlier saying they have four caskets to move.

Anyway, Veronica says now they just wait until sundown. So…they’re gonna spend the whole day there?

When sundown arrives, the evil vampires wake up in their caskets and find garlic all over the place (including around their necks). They’re trapped until the garlic loses its aroma (in three or four weeks). Nathanial isn’t shown. Neither are any of the Riverdale vampire clones, all of whom except Reggie should still be around.

Back in the cave, the good vampires wake up, disoriented. Veronica and Betty bring them up to speed. Charlotte says the garlic will give them time to figure out a way to terminate the Lucificus gang. Um, how about stakes through the hearts, genius?!

Ashton can’t believe Nathanial betrayed them. Jughead points out a hitherto-unseen Nathanial, tied up with garlic. Lucas says they’ll “figure out” what to do with him. *facepalm* He praises the gang (it seems Chuck and Midge are now present as well) for saving the day. Lucas suggests throwing a beach barbecue in their honor. Betty’s all for it.

Later, Ashton is teaching Betty to night-surf. I feel this should be Lucas and Veronica instead, since they had a discussion about surfing at the beginning of part 1. Anyway, Betty’s surfboard is decorated with blossoms like the kind that Cheryl wears on her clothes. Just saying.

Anyway, Ashton thanks Betty for everything and flirts with her, irritating Archie. Looking at his girls with their vampire love interests, Archie laments he has to compete with vampires now.

The next night, Lucas, Charlotte, and Ashton arrive at Pop’s. Lucas tells Archie, Betty, Veronica (and Pop and the other customers present) that the Lucificus gang and the clones (oh, they are still around; where the fuck were they?) are secured for now – except one. They couldn’t locate Vampironica; she appears to have escaped. How? Lucas guesses she probably fled just as Archie and Jughead attacked. And everyone else, too. Remember, these assholes were too lazy to throw all of the garlic themselves.

Veronica asks if they have to worry about her. Lucas says no and adds she’s probably fled far away. Silently, he hopes that’s true.

Of course, it’s not. Vampironica drives back into Riverdale in a red sports car. The final note promises it’s “not the end”, but I’m gonna take a wild guess and say this story was never followed up on.

This story was a mixed bag. It was kinda funny in spots, but artwork errors (the moon, the disappearing stake, characters appearing and disappearing), characters being stupid, and the utter refusal to have Betty be a badass vampire slayer (contrary to what the covers promised) definitely brought this story down. Archie’s Weird Mysteries did a much better job with vampires in Riverdale.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Bring It On

Riverdale-1
Writer: Michael Grassi
Art: Joe Eisma
Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Letters: John Workman
Original Publication: Riverdale, No. 1
Cover Date: May, 2017
On-Sale Date: April 5, 2017
Length: 10 pages

One evening (or overcast day), Cheryl leaves flowers for Jason on the bank of Sweetwater River. She’s sad but also angry. Art note: Cheryl’s eye color has been inconsistent over the decades. In the classic comics, it’s usually green but sometimes blue. The front cover of Riverdale One-Shot (a.k.a. Riverdale #0) has them as brown. Her eyes are blue in this story.

Anyway, Jason was her first greatest love. Her second is being captain of the River Vixens. During practice, Betty and Veronica have to hold Cheryl up (and are none-too-pleased about it) as she proudly cheers “Be aggressive! Be-be aggressive!” Interesting cheer. Cheryl thinks of herself as their “Red Queen”. I’ll refrain from making a Resident Evil joke.

As Cheryl walks with her besties, Ginger and Tina, down a hallway, the latter two insult Betty. There’s a cute background gag of someone (Chuck?) checking out the girls and then walking into an open locker door.

Cheryl assures her “little lip-tinted creatures” that she’ll torture Betty and get her to quit the team by having a “hell week” just like the football team. Polly used to be a River Vixen, and Cheryl ain’t having another Cooper on her squad.

As they approach Betty and Veronica, Betty tries to make pleasant small talk with Cheryl, but Cheryl gives Betty her first task: wear a special Vixen uniform, provided by Cheryl, for an entire school day.

After school, Betty has Veronica over at her house. After receiving the very skimpy outfit, Betty writes in her diary that Cheryl is demonic. Veronica, lying on Betty’s bed and reading a magazine, calls it “some basic bitch psychological warfare”, except “bitch” is censored. Let me make this clear: a tie-in coic for the show censors a word that is often uttered on said show. This is a motherfucking Teen-rated title; why is “bitch” not allowed?

Anyway, Veronica says she used to do the same to the girls at Spence and tells Betty to fuck it. Betty says Polly loved being a River Vixen and would be captain instead of Cheryl. She refuses to let Cheryl win and needs to do this for Polly. She takes off her clothes and puts on the uniform, surprising Veronica.

The next day, at school, Betty proudly struts down on a hallway in the skimpy outfit (which somehow doesn’t get her sent home). Veronica, by her side, announces “hotness” coming through. Archie and Jughead are amazed. Cheryl’s besties are amazed that Betty actually did it. Tina says Betty looks “amazing”, but Cheryl tells her “minion” to shut up and declares Betty dead.

At practice, Cheryl congratulates Betty on surviving round one. She then explains the backstory for round two: last year, Baxter High creamed them at spirit regionals, because Betty’s” meth-head sister Polly” flubbed the routine and lost them the Golden Whistle. Betty declares they’ll win it back at this year’s competition. Cheryl loves Betty’s “can-do Cooper attitude” but wants her to break into Baxter High and steal it back. If it’s not sitting around Cheryl’s “elegant and slender neck” by morning practice, Betty’s off the squad.

Betty goes through with it and rags on Veronica for wearing heels to a break-in. Veronica tells Betty to lay off the “choos”, claiming they’re good luck.

Betty opens a window into the boys’ bathroom, climbs in, and helps Veronica in. Veronica asks why and how she’s so good at this. Betty claims she’s “mechanically inclined” and learned to pick locks at an early age, because her mom’s a chronic door-locker. Veronica is amazed.

They find the trophy case. Betty is in awe of the stupid-ass Golden Whistle. She can’t get the case open. Veronica warns “Nancy Drew” before smashing the glass with a fire extinguisher.

As Betty recounts in her diary, someone called in an anonymous tip to the Sheriff’s office, so Sheriff Keller comes in, busts them, and hauls their asses to the station. Betty guesses it was Cheryl’s doing. The moms are called. Hermione is understanding toward “mija”, but Alice drags Betty away, assuming Veronica put her up to this. Betty says she didn’t. Alice lectures Betty for hours and grounds her for a month (this has no bearing on the show). But it doesn’t matter, because Betty has the Golden Whistle (which she stupidly openly displays while her angry mom is driving her home).

The next day, after Betty presents the Golden Whistle to Cheryl, Cheryl’s narration informs us that she hates everyone. She rags on Sheriff Keller for once again proving to be useless. As she silently plans to “hit Betty where it hurts”, Cheryl is outwardly impressed. As Cheryl starts talking about Betty’s final task, Betty’s diary entry goes into a sixth-grade class trip to Riot Park. She, Cheryl, Polly, and Jason were all there. Remembering Betty was too scared to ride the Behemoth, and in order to make sure Betty can sit astride the top of the pyramid, Cheryl forces Betty to prove she’s not still scared of heights by standing on the ledge of the school roof for five minutes after school.

After school, Cheryl, Archie, Jughead, Chuck, and a bunch of other students gather outside. Cheryl predicts, if Betty shows up, she won’t last thirty seconds. Betty does show up. She’s scared shitless but calms herself. She admits Cheryl’s right: she’s terrified of heights. However, Cheryl forgot one thing: Betty conquered her fear that day in sixth grade; she rode the Behemoth, clutching hands with Polly, who didn’t let go of her hand for the entire ride.

Betty admits she couldn’t do this alone, and she doesn’t have her big sister to save her this time, but she has the next best thing: a new BFF. Lucky for her, Cheryl never said she had to do it alone, so Veronica joins Betty on the roof’s ledge, and they join hands. Betty barely survived hell week, but it was worth it, if only to see the look on Cheryl’s face. Betty’s proud and believes Polly would be proud also. Cheryl, however, while admitting Betty survived hell week, swears on Jason’s ghost that she won’t stop until Betty and Veronica feel the same pain that she does.

This was a nice story! Apparently, it will be continued (unlike the previous story, which is stated to be the end), but this story seems complete in itself. It’s interesting to look back and see Cheryl so antagonistic to the girls (and Betty in particular), knowing the three of them eventually become close friends on the show.

After the story is a lightweight, five-page “special look” at the show, a one-page cover gallery, and the cover for the next issue.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Bloodsport

Riverdale-1.jpg
Writer: Will Ewing
Art: Joe Eisma
Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Letters: Janice Chiang
Original Publication: Riverdale, No. 1
Cover Date: May, 2017
On-Sale Date: April 5, 2017
Length: 10 pages

I’m sorry that this is so late. Real Life has been crazy-busy lately.

During varsity football practice, Archie is still getting used to it. After practice, in the boys’ locker room, Coach Clayton gives Archie Jason’s old jersey (#9), even though he’d already done that in the first episode. Reggie’s in awe, but Archie doesn’t know how he’s going to live up to it.

Archie gets looks from the ladies while walking down the hall in his varsity jacket. He feels good. Then Chuck (the team captain, coach’s son, and “king of the jocks”) pulls him into a classroom filled with the varsity football team. Archie and Reggie are forced to their knees. Chuck welcomes them to “hell week”.

So the legendary football hell week is kind of like an initiation into a secret society – only much more violent and humiliating. Reggie, Archie, and Moose strip in the boys’ locker room and then streak across the football field in front of girls (including, possibly, Betty). Archie covers his dick. Moose looks embarrassed as well. Reggie, however, proudly lets his “freak flag” fly.

Then they have to stick a bunch of plastic forks in the football field of their arch-rivals. In this continuity, it’s Baxter High (instead of the usual Central High).

Then they toilet-paper Mr. Weatherbee’s house at night. He isn’t amused. Jughead also walks by and observes this.

At lunch one day, Jughead is amazed at the amount of food that Archie’s eating. Archie says Chuck says he needs to put on weight. Jughead wonders why Archie gives a shit about what Chuck says. Jughead asks about Archie’s music. Archie basically says he can do both that and football. He brings up getting Jason’s jersey and says he owes it to Jason to try.

That night, the pledges are told to come to school in only their bathing suits. Archie, Reggie, Moose, and two other guys get in the back of Chuck’s truck. He drives them out to Sweetwater River, where the entire team is gathered. In order to prove they’re “tough enough to be a Bulldog”, they must pass the final test: swim across Sweetwater River and back. It’s at least 100 yards to the other side, and the water is freezing. Um, I’m guessing this is supposed to occur roughly around the same time as the first episode, which means probably around early September. Does water get that cold at night in upstate New York at that time of year?

Anyway, Reggie and Archie whine. Chuck yells at Archie, saying Jason did it, and offers Archie the option of quitting the team.

Archie and Reggie do it. Moose says he can’t swim, so Archie volunteers to do it again in his place. A concerned Reggie tries to talk him out of it. Chuck says Archie can’t do it for Moose, because no weak links (meaning Moose). Archie takes another swim over Chuck’s protest.

During the swim, the cold gets to Archie, and he thinks he sees Jason’s corpse, wearing his varsity jacket. Archie keeps going and makes it. Moose thanks him. Reggie offers Archie a towel. Chuck’s pissed, saying Archie earned another week of hell. Archie tells him to bring it. Another player, though, calls Chuck out on his bullshit, saying Archie did it. Eventually, Chuck backs off, having no other choice.

For all of their trouble, though, Archie, Reggie, and Moose end up as bench-warmers. Coach Clayton puts Archie in the game for the next play, so Chuck can take a breather. When Archie goes to tell him, though, Chuck pushes him and says the number on his chest is a bullseye. As Archie plays, we briefly see Betty and Veronica cheering.

After the game, Archie looks in a mirror in the boys’ locker room and sees Jason’s corpse staring back at him. He feels he’s a dead man walking. Well, that’s creepy as fuck.

Slight continuity hiccup aside, this was pretty good story.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Woman Scorned

Archie-156.jpg
Writer: Frank Doyle*
Pencils: Harry Lucey*
Inking: Mario Acquaviva*
Colors: ?*
Letters: Mario Acquaviva*
Original Publication: Archie, No. 156
Cover Date: July, 1965
Length: 6 pages

*The original story had no credits. These credits come from Grand Comics Database.

I’m sorry that this is late.

Archie and Jughead are walking along a sidewalk. Archie’s explaining how he had to cancel a date with Betty. As he contrasts Betty’s calm attitude regarding it with what he thinks Veronica’s reaction to a broken date would be, he fails to see a tree falling behind him, a toy wagon full of rocks speeding toward him, and a flower pot falling from the sky right behind him. Jughead sees them, excuses himself, and runs off.

Jughead confronts Betty over her slapstick attempts to murder Archie. Well, not really. He confronts her over putting “an innocent bystander” (namely, himself) in harm’s way. Betty calls it “the fortunes of war”. She then gives this awesome line: “If you bystand in the target area, you’re bound to collect a few shell fragments!”

Jughead wonders why Betty’s suddenly this angry over a broken date, since Archie’s pulled this shit before. Betty is fucking enraged, lifting Jughead off his feet by the shirt. She says tonight’s broken date was the last straw. He tells her to take it easy. She lets him go but keeps screaming. He climbs a pole to get away from her. Warning Jughead of Archie’s impending death, Betty sends him off to pay his “last respects”.

Jughead finds Archie and warns him, but Archie doesn’t believe him, saying Betty “always comes around” after his bullshit. Jughead suggests Archie try to pacify her. Archie says he has a date with Veronica, but Jughead gives him a mental image of a gruesome death. Still not taking it seriously, Archie runs off to find Betty and “happy her up a bit”.

At home, Betty is ironing…in the kitchen. Fun detail: the Coopers don’t have chairs at their kitchen table; they have a restaurant-style booth. Oh, and there’s a goldfish bowl on the table.

Yeah, I don’t know either.

Anyway, Betty laments to herself that she’s a “born loser” for failing to get Archie and failing to kill him. Yeah, because nothing says “loser” like not being able to murder someone.

Anyway, Betty is swearing revenge to herself when Archie bursts in, excited. Betty tries to smash his face with her hot iron, but he tells her that their date’s back on.

Figuring he ditched Veronica (although I doubt it), Betty is suddenly elated and forgives Archie. So excited is she that she accidentally hits him in the face with her hot iron. Then she lifts him to his feet and makes him spin in circles with her in some kind of weird happy dance. During all of this, Betty fully admits to wanting to kill Archie.

She accidentally releases him, sending him crashing into the kitchen table. His head gets stuck in the goldfish bowl. The two goldfish somehow survive.

Later, Archie is recovering from his injuries in bed. Reasoning Betty is more dangerous when she’s happy, Archie reveals he called off their date again. He calls Betty a screwball. Jughead leaves to get out of the “target area”, confusing Archie.

Just then, Betty throws a boomerang into Archie’s bedroom in her latest attempt on his life.

What the fuck did I just read? This story blatantly portrays Betty as a murderous teen that can’t handle rejection. Yeah, I realize that’s an actual thing these days, but it’s surprising to find it in an Archie comic, particularly from over fifty years ago. One thing, though: what’s with all of the Wile E. Coyote traps? If Betty was at all competent, she’d lure Archie to a secluded spot with the promise of sex, get him drunk, and then stab him to death.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 6

Betty-and-Veronica-Vixens-6.jpgWriter: Jamie Lee Rotante
Art: Jen Vaughn
Colors: Elaina Unger
Letters: Rachel Deering
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 6
Cover Date: July, 2018
On-Sale Date: May 9, 2018
Length: 19 pages

This scene doesn’t occur in the actual story.

I’m sorry that this is late. My sister showed up for a somewhat lengthy visit (starting late on Monday night and lasting until early next Monday morning), so it’s been a bit chaotic here.

With this issue, the series has a new artist: Jen Vaughn. Her artwork is serviceable, but I don’t like it as much as Cabrera’s. Eva Cabrera draws a variant cover:

Betty-and-Veronica-Vixens-6-Variant.jpgBefore the story, there’s a recap of the previous issue on the credits page.

This issue begins a new five-part storyline called “Hunted”. Let’s get into it.

The first two pages consist of a flashback to the Vixens kicking the punks’ asses outside Sugar’s Roller Rink on Friday night and saving that girl. We get the impression that they’re being watched.

Later, the girl is walking along and forcefully confronted by some punk.

In the present, on the Greendale/Riverdale border, Mad Doc Doom swears he comes in peace, but Toni calls him out on his bullshit (it’s censored) and says he was stalking them. Evelyn wants to kick his ass. Cheryl blows him a kiss with her left hand while having her right hand balled into a fist. Is this a trademark of hers or something? It’s cute.

Anyway, Doc puts down his knife and claims to be unarmed. He wants to chat. Cheryl wants to know why he was following them. He claims it was a coincidence. Evelyn doesn’t believe him. He sticks to his story, even managing to praise his hot rod. He claims he was going to help them in the house. Toni calls him out.

He admits he was going to give Ang’s asshole boyfriend “rightful justice”. Hugging Ang, Toni asks Doc how he knew the asshole. Doc says they “both ran with similar bad crowds”. Toni still doesn’t trust him. He says he wanted to right some wrongs, including getting Ang out of there. Toni says they did and tells him to stay the fuck away from all of them. They get on their bikes and leave Greendale (population: 4,012). Doc guesses he has his work cut out for him.

The Vixens ride at night. Ang is riding with Toni and holding on to her. Cheryl seems to have disappeared (no, this isn’t a plot point; it’s sloppy artwork; she should be riding with Betty as she had been). Anyway, Betty asks Veronica what they do now in case he follows them back to Riverdale and finds out who they are. Veronica is dismissive.

At Doc’s base of operations, he meets with a guy about the Vixens.

We get a flashback to the Riverdale Police finding Fangs Fogarty tied to the tree. A bloody wrench is in the grass nearby. Fangs doesn’t wanna give up who did this to him. He begs to be arrested and taken away from here. They oblige.

Back in the present, Doc is glad that the Vixens scared the “suckers”/”punks” straight. He’s upset at the Serpents for missed opportunities and not seeing the bigger picture. The guy that Doc is talking to is named Chester. Oddly, Chester counts only five girls among the Vixens. Doc enlists the help of Ang’s asshole ex-boyfriend, Sam, to “break” the girls.

The next evening, Veronica is walking downstairs and overhears a news report that her parents are watching about a young local woman being reported missing: Abbey Finn, age 22. Veronica is shocked to realize it’s the girl that they’d helped at Sugar’s Roller Rink. Hiram is surprised at Veronica’s reaction and asks if she knows her. She says she doesn’t and excuses herself.

Later, at Pop’s, Betty, Veronica, Midge, Ethel, and Toni (the core five of this group, it seems) have a Vixens meeting. Betty, the tough biker chick, says her parents don’t want her out too late. Midge exposits what we already know. Veronica tries to convince Ethel that this isn’t her fault. Veronica wants to find out who’s responsible for Abbey’s disappearance but doesn’t exactly have a plan. Toni says she’s full of shit (censored). Toni starts complaining about Veronica and then about Cheryl as well. Betty tells Toni to “be reasonable”. Veronica says Toni’s right: they’re in over their heads.

Veronica gets up and leaves Pop’s. Betty goes after her, sensing Veronica wants to give up. Veronica says they screwed up by not noticing Abbey walked away while they were celebrating. Betty says they have to make it right.

The others come out. Toni not-quite-apologizes to Veronica and says Ang is staying with her while her (Toni’s) parents are away. Ang is traumatized, and Toni feels helpless. Veronica tells her to not apologize.

Cheryl and Evelyn make a flashy entrance on Cheryl’s new(?) motorcycle, which has a lot of red on it. Cheryl’s pissed that the others “forgot” to send her “invite to the pow-wow” and thanks Eve for telling her. Betty asks Eve, “How?” How what? What’s she asking about? Toni tries to kick Cheryl out of the gang, but Cheryl brings up the fact that she handled the ladies’ unfinished business. Betty rudely demands an explanation.

As Cheryl explains, we get a flashback where she and Eve go on “clean-up duty”. Fangs threatens to tell the cops everything. Eve starts punching him. Cheryl jokingly “admonishes” her. Cheryl insults Fangs and explains she had a “ladies lunch” with Bubbles and Penny, where they talked about his relationships with the latter two. Cheryl admits she’s spoiled, but she also says at least she knows no means no. She kicks Fangs in the nuts and threatens the destruction of his dick and balls in a vise by Eve. Cheryl tells him to keep his mouth shut about the Vixens. Fangs begs Cheryl. She takes some blood off his face and puts it on the wrench, I guess to make them seem more badass or something. She tells him to learn some respect.

Back in the present, Toni finds this disturbing. Cheryl insists they need her and asks for Ang’s location. Toni says she went to a kickboxing class that she signed her up for. Cheryl is shocked that Toni let Ang go out alone and says they don’t know what they’re doing. Veronica suggests Cheryl work with them instead of insulting them. Cheryl tells Toni to round up “Stockholm Sally” and for the girls to be on the lookout for anything odd. Cheryl will try to go back to the scene of the crime. Betty’s upset that Cheryl’s bossing them around. Toni adds Cheryl makes it really hard to like her. Cheryl is pleased by that and tells her to move it.

At Lodge Manor, Hiram and Hermione are turning in for the night. All of this gang bullshit and disappearance bullshit is giving Hiram second thoughts about moving his family to Riverdale. He wants them to up and leave if he can’t get answers from his men soon.

Meanwhile, in a warehouse or wherever, a kidnapped Ang is being escorted by Doc, Chester, and Sam. Doc is ready to give Ang her “gift” – and then slits Sam’s throat. Ang is shocked. Doc opens a room, where Abbey is tied to a chair. He says he can finally start his “business”.

This was another good issue! I’m looking forward to the next one. A caption on the final page promises “the Vixens head toward danger” next issue, but since when do they not? Anyway, after the story is a one-page cover gallery for this issue and another Riverdale Gazette article (dated May of 2018); this one talks about the cameo of the real-life WFTDA team, River City Roller Derby, in the previous issue and welcomes suggestions for cameos by other teams or leagues in future issues. A photo of the actual team is included. There’s one page of ads for other Archie Comics, a full-page ad for Archie Superteens Versus Crusaders (beginning on June 20th), and the cover of Betty & Veronica: Vixens #7, which has Betty and Veronica driving in (presumably) Arizona or New Mexico and about to collide with each other. Both girls have tattoos on their backs – Betty a sword or dagger and Veronica a “V”.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Spring Blossom!

Cheryl-Blossom-13.jpg
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Jon D’Agostino
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 13
Cover Date: June, 1998
Length: 11 pages

I’m sorry that this is a bit late.

Outside Riverdale High School (I guess), Betty gives up on something. Cheryl overhears and makes a joke, upsetting Betty. This starts up a conversation. Betty is having trouble getting sponsors for their annual “Riverdale High Cherry Blossom Festival”. Businesses in town usually support the festival, but this year everybody seems to have financial woes. Cheryl suggests finding a rich donor, but Betty says the rules state the festival is to be funded by local businesses. Cheryl offers to help, saying she can be quite persuasive. Betty asks Cheryl why she wants to help them. Cheryl admits she just likes collecting money from people.

Cheryl goes and asks businesses around town and also makes calls, but no one’s interested in funding the festival.

Cheryl goes to see her dad, asking if he owns “that mini-mall in Riverdale” (so Pembrooke is a separate town in this story). Clifford says Cheryl owns it; he put it in her name years ago for tax purposes, but she can’t touch it until she’s 21. Cheryl goes and threatens the tenants with expulsion “in a couple of years” unless they pony up the cash for the festival.

At school (yeah, Cheryl’s attending Riverdale High during this time), Cheryl tells Betty that she got all of her sponsorship money for her “little festival”. When Betty asks how, Cheryl says “Just a little persuasion!” Cheryl claims “the sponsors” required her to organize the event and give it “the Blossom touch”. Veronica overhears and nearly flips her shit, but Betty calms her down and gives Cheryl a to-do list. Cheryl says she’ll get right on it. Archie eagerly offers to help, but Veronica pulls Archie into service of herself and Betty. Archie’s ticked. Veronica volunteers Dilton to help Cheryl. Dilton facepalms. Cheryl has her “assistant” follow her.

On another day, Betty asks Cheryl if she ordered the flowers for the parade float. Cheryl says she “altered the design a bit” and unveils the float, which is devoted to her. Betty and Veronica are shocked. Cheryl feels she deserves “a little recognition” due to creating “quite a sensation” since she started at Riverdale High. (Oddly, Cheryl goes from calm and smiling in one panel to screaming in the next.) Betty talks Veronica into letting Cheryl have her float, saying it’s too late to change it.

On another day, Betty (angrily, for some reason) tells Cheryl to pick up the posters from the printer. Cheryl goes to get them. The posters for “The Riverdale Cheryl Blossom Festival!” promise “fun!”, “food!”, and “Cheryl!” Cheryl justifies it to herself by noting the similarity of “Cheryl Blossom” and “Cherry Blossom”. This makes me wish for a story in which Cheryl takes Japanese for her foreign language class and chooses “Sakura” as her Japanese name.

Veronica and Betty see the posters (and billboard!) around town and get pissed. Despite that, Betty still wonders how it happened. They go to confront Cheryl.

On another day, in the student council’s office, Betty excitedly announces they got some last-minute funding from the Riverdale Business Association, meaning they can have their Cherry Blossom Festival. Veronica promptly fires Cheryl and tells her to forget about her festival. Cheryl wants to have it, anyway, citing the work that went into it. Veronica is looking forward to seeing Cheryl make a fool of herself.

On the big day, Cheryl is having her festival “across the street” (from the high school, I guess). Veronica thinks their festival is kicking ass, but she and Betty notice a lack of boys, and Betty decides to head over to Cheryl’s festival.

Veronica and Betty see Archie, Reggie, and other guys waiting in line at Cheryl’s kissing booth for free kisses. Betty finds it “absurd” (even though it’s actually a smart idea) and asks Jughead how Cheryl lured him here. Free food, of course (there’s even “Cheryl Corn”!). Okay, that idea’s not so smart; Cheryl needs to charge for something in order to make money; maybe there’s a high admission price?

Betty and Veronica check out the attractions: Cheryl’s Funhouse of Beauty, the Glamorous Cheryl Coaster, the Cheryl-Go-Round, and ten shows daily of “The Life of Cheryl Blossom”. Apparently, it’s all free; I seriously hope Cheryl charged admission, but the story seems to insinuate she’s taking a loss on all of this just to have the more popular festival. As a side note, just because a lot of the attractions are self-indulgent doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not enjoyable. There’s a funhouse, a roller coaster, a merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, food, candy, and kisses. Just saying.

Anyway, Dilton offers to help Veronica and Betty compete. Veronica’s surprised Dilton’s still helping Cheryl, and Dilton blames Veronica for it, despite the fact that he could have, y’know, quit. Dilton wants to sabotage an event at tonight’s fireworks display, where Cheryl will be lowered via crane onto her float.

Later, back at their own festival, Betty tells Veronica that the girls that showed up basically saved their asses. Dilton calls Veronica on a walkie-talkie and tells the girls to get ready.

That night, at Cheryl’s festival, Cheryl is standing on a platform and introduced as “the Queen of Riverdale”. This is too much, “even for” Archie.

Dilton has Hank, the crane operator, swing Cheryl wildly back and forth. Okay, dudes, no, you don’t attempt to murder someone for providing entertainment, even if it is self-indulgent. Reggie’s enjoying seeing Cheryl in peril. Cheryl is dumped over the dunk tank at the Cherry Blossom Festival, but she grabs hold of the plank and remains dry. Veronica throws a ball and hits the target, dunking Cheryl. Betty and Veronica are amused.

This story is okay. Cheryl was obviously wrong in making the festival all about her, but, other than that, she did actually organize a seemingly fun festival. It wasn’t worth putting her life in danger just to put an early end to her festival, so the guys would go over to the other festival (at least, I think that was the rationale).

The story is followed by “Cheryl’s Fashions Through the Years!”, a page on which Cheryl models 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s clothes.

Tune in next Wednesday!