Comics – Fall from Grace

Riverdale-One-Shot
Writer: James Dewille
Art: Thomas Pitilli
Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Letters: John Workman
Original Publication: Riverdale One-Shot
Cover Date: April, 2017
On-Sale Date: March 1, 2017
Length: 10 pages

This is the third of four stories in this issue, which serves as a sort of prequel to the first episode.

This story is narrated by Veronica. She loves summer in New York. It’s “dreadfully hot”, but not at the Dakota, where she lives. Veronica’s hanging out on her bed. Someone knocks on her door and informs her that breakfast is ready.

Down in the dining room (which includes one of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe paintings), Veronica enthusiastically greets her mom. Hiram, feeling slighted, clears his throat. Picking up her cup of tea, Veronica informs him that she loves him, too. He tells “mija” that he loves her more. This is their “adorable back ‘n’ forth” that they’ve been doing since Veronica was a baby. The look that the artist went with for Hiram is interesting. He has glasses and a mustache as in the regular comics, but he also has a beard, and his hair is all dark. We learn from Veronica that Hiram doesn’t work as much in the summer. She likes that, because, according to her mom, family meals are “so important”. Oh, and her daddy is the “best”.

As a “typical” girl, Veronica has a summer job at Vogue, does a lot of shopping, takes her friends to Adele concerts (they get box seats, courtesy of her dad) (side note: one of Veronica’s friends is named Camila; cute), goes clubbing at Le Bain, goes out on the family boat (the SS Loophole) with her dad to the Hamptons, and has weekly family dinners at Le Cirque. Hermione suggests some mother/daughter time this week. Veronica suggests massages tomorrow.

Veronica’s favorite part of summer is their annual July 4th party. It’s “super fun”. Everyone’s there, and they all watch the fireworks together from their windows. Suddenly, though, there are knocks at the doors, startling Veronica. The FBI barges in and arrests Hiram for fraud and embezzlement. A shaken Veronica asks him what’s going on. Hiram is arrested and read his rights, much to the shock of his guests. Hiram tells someone to get Veronica out of here, because he doesn’t want her to see this.

Hermione takes Veronica to her room and tells her to stay in there for her “safety”. She promises it’ll all be okay. Veronica listens in as Hiram instucts Hermione to call their lawyers and not talk to anyone. This is the first time that Veronica has known her mother to lie to her. She breaks down in tears.

Veronica loses everything: her summer job at Vogue, her credit cards, her friends (Camila says her mom says she can’t go out with her), and the boat. She can’t even skip the line at a restaurant. She picks up on the insincerity of “Sorry” from everyone.

One night, as Veronica and her mom eat take-out pizza by candlelight, Hermione mentions Hiram’s arrainement and upcoming trial. Also, they have to leave the Dakota. Veronica asks if they’re going to the chalet in Zermatt or the penthouse in Miami, but they’re not. Veronica then gets the horrible feeling that they might be moving to Brooklyn. We learn Hermione and Hiram met while growing up in Riverdale, which Veronica refers to as the “weird town off the Metro North“. Hermione destroys Veronica’s beliefs that her “friends” are really her friends and that New York is home. Hermione says all that they have left is a little pied-a-terre that they’ve kept secretly under her name; she calls Riverdale their “only hope”. Veronica isn’t hungry anymore. She misses Daddy and is so scared of whatever’s coming next.

Later, as Veronica’s packing, she accepts a collect call from her father and begs him to fix this, but he just gives her a pep talk about her own strength. He needs her to be strong now for her mother. Holding a family photo, she agrees. He tells her to not believe the “lies” and says it’s going to be okay. She agrees, wanting and needing to believe him.

Veronica takes one last look at the Dakota as Hermione tells her that it’s time to leave. Racing along the Hudson, Veronica feels her old life falling by the wayside. She wonders who she’ll be now. She’s starving. She gets in a funny line when she asks her mom where “weird upstate people” eat. This officially places Riverdale in upstate New York, despite the show’s unwillingness to actually name the state (Josie name-dropped Rockland County in the first episode, though, which is nowhere near upstate). Hermione tells Veronica of a place in Riverdale that she used to love call Pop’s. As they enter Riverdale (in a different vehicle than in the episode), she wonders if it’s still open.

This was a pretty good story. The only thing lacking was bitchy, mean-girl Veronica. That’s what Veronica said she was like back in New York. It would have been nice to see it and to see how her father’s arrest and the collapse of her entire world forced her to change.

Tune in next Wednesday!

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Comics – Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 8

Betty-and-Veronica-Vixens-8.jpgWriter: Jamie Lee Rotante
Art: Sanya Anwar
Colors: Elaina Unger
Letters: Rachel Deering
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 8
Cover Date: September, 2018
On-Sale Date: July 18, 2018
Length: 20 pages

Before the story, there’s a recap of the previous issue on the credits page. It reveals the full name of the other all-girl gang: the Sassy Thrashers, something that wasn’t stated in the issue itself.

The series has another new artist, Sanya Anwar.

Yes, I have read about the new B&V series that Jamie Lee Rotante will be writing. I’m looking forward to it. Also, the Archie title will be renumbered after a stopgap Archie 1941 miniseries, and the new direction is supposed to be a bit more influenced by Riverdale. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, let’s get into the current issue:

One evening, in Midvale, Betty and Veronica drive through a fence and into a warehouse, where they intimidate some guys that are up to no good. Veronica’s armed with a bat, but Betty doesn’t seem to have anything. Veronica’s the narrator, which is interesting. She says things have gotten “weird” in Riverdale, and it hardly even feels like home anymore because of the disappearances. She also doesn’t like the people that her “daddy” hired, because they’re treating her friends like villains. So the girls have to take matters into their own hands.

Betty tells the guys that they’re not here to disturb their business, but they want to know where the girls are. The guys either don’t know anything or play dumb, so Veronica pours gasoline and blows the warehouse up. Yeah, you read that right. Yeah, she half-assedly tells them to run, but this is still a bit extreme (especially after Betty’s earlier remark). To be fair, the guys just stand around like dumbasses and let Veronica douse their place – instead of using one of the many guns that they have lying around to kill the girls. It’s not clear who throws the match or lighter, so we don’t know who’s culpable if any of the guys don’t make it out. Regardless, Veronica says, even though their hands get dirty, their consciences are clean. Really? Sleep well at night, do ya?

Veronica continues to narrate about their determination and her musings about Doc as we see Doc threatening his captives as Ang looks unsure.

Midge and Ethel are hanging out outside a bar near Sugar’s Roller Rink, waiting for the punks that had been harassing Abbey to return. One of them does. They go to confront him. He runs away and seemingly trips and falls (it’s unclear, because it happens between panels). Ethel offers him a hand to help him up, and then…she runs up behind him? And then Midge knocks off his hat and grabs his hair? The fuck? Sanya Anwar isn’t doing a very good job here. Also, Rachel Deering leaves a period off a sentence.

Anyway, Midge and Ethel question the guy, and Midge is persuasive by stepping on the guy’s hand. He spills about Doc and calls the girls psycho sluts. Midge steps on his hand again. She and Ethel leave just as some roller derby girls come out of the rink.

Later, Betty and Veronica come into the remodeled Perilous Pike (the Serpents’ old dive), which was taken over by Penny and Bubbles. Penny serves “America’s sweethearts” root beers (they look more like root beer floats). They’re here about the missing women. When Veronica brings up Doc, Penny tells them to stay the fuck away from him, because she saw him do “horrible things”. She doesn’t elaborate, but we learn Doc dealt in weapons before switching to drugs. She’s surprised he’s stuck around here. Veronica gets a text from Midge confirming it’s Doc. Veronica and Betty leave.

Later, they meet up with Midge, Ethel, Toni, and Ang at a gas station. Veronica goes off on Toni about Doc. Betty tells her to stop, but she won’t. Toni’s confused, but Ethel confirms it. Toni questions Ang, and Ang confirms it. She’s scared Doc’s gonna kill all of them. She apologizes to Toni. During all of this, Rachel Deering drops another period.

Betty tells Ang that it isn’t her fault. She wants Ang’s help and promises her safety. She also wants Veronica to pass “an anonymous tip” about Doc on to her father.

Meanwhile, Cheryl, Eve, and Sassy (the Sassy Thrashers’ leader, who’s finally named) spy on “Doc” and “Sue” in the park. Cheryl has Eve and Sassy ride up first to create a bunch of smoke, and then Cheryl goes in for the attack. Unfortunately, it’s just a couple of decoys. Trapped in the circle of smoke, Cheryl gets taken at knifepoint by Doc, who comes out of nowhere. When the smoke clears, Eve and Sassy see Doc’s muscle car speeding away. Eve finds a bit of Cheryl’s hair on the ground.

Eve and Sassy go to the gas station. Eve informs the girls that Doc has Cheryl. Betty wants the girls to move. Midge asks about Veronica. Betty will let her know but says they need to leave Riverdale tonight.

Meanwhile, Veronica arrives home, opens a garage door, and brings her motorcycle inside. Mr. Lodge flips on the light and welcomes “Princess” home.

The rest of the girls are driving toward the Riverdale city limits. Toni calls Ethel out on being worried about not being home by curfew. Betty tells them to shut the fuck up and says they’re all “in deep ish” (huh?) back home, but the missing girls have it worse right now. She can’t deliver a text to Veronica but decides they’ll do what they can for now and hopes Veronica can get them help. They head for Greendale.

Veronica tries to make excuses about the bike. Why does she even store it in her family’s garage? Why not rent a storage space or keep it at Eve’s or wherever. Mr. Lodge knows everything, thanks to his “task force”. He lectures her and then informs her of Cheryl’s disappearance. He tells her to hand over her phone and go upstairs. She refuses. He informs her that he’s cancelled her phone service and turns his back on her. He calls Mr. Williams and has him alert the police and close the town’s borders. No one will be getting in or out for the next 48 hours.

Some artwork confusion, the drop of Veronica’s narration after only five pages (why use it at all then?), and possible murders aside, this was another good issue. I’m looking forward to the next one. After the story is a one-page cover gallery for this issue and another Riverdale Gazette article (dated July of 2018); this one features another roller derby team, Charm City Roller Girls of Baltimore, who made a cameo appearance earlier in the issue; Jamie Lee Rotante says more teams will appear in upcoming issues (I wonder if this was written before the cancellation) and thanks friends and fans for their support. Finally, there’s the cover of Betty & Veronica: Vixens #9, which has Betty, Midge, Ethel, and Toni driving down a dirt road while Veronica, separated from them, is worried.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Summer Nights

Riverdale-One-Shot
Writer: Britta Lundin
Art: Jim Towe
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letters: Janice Chiang
Original Publication: Riverdale One-Shot
Cover Date: April, 2017
On-Sale Date: March 1, 2017
Length: 10 pages

I’m sorry that this is a bit late. It’s a substitution. I had planned to review Betty & Veronica Vixens #8 yesterday, but I discovered I didn’t have enough of a gift card balance to purchase it. Oopsie.

Anyway, let’s get to the story. This is the second of four in this issue, which serves as a sort of prequel to the first episode.

While Polly does Betty’s hair, Betty’s writing in her diary. Betty is excited, because she got the internship and is going to Los Angeles for the summer. It means no Archie but also no Mom.

As if on cue, Alice walks in, worried, because it’s “unnatural for a girl to want to be away from her family”. Betty points out that she’s staying with Aunt Gertrude. Polly tries to assure Alice. Alice takes the opportunity to shit on the River Vixens, cars (what the fuck?), and “that boy”. Polly stands up, pokes her mom in the chest, and says his name is Jason. Alice swears sometimes it feels like she doesn’t know her own daughters. As she leaves, Betty thanks Polly. Polly says she’ll see her when she gets back and tells Betty to have an amazing summer.

Before we move on to the next scene, what the fuck is Betty writing in? It’s supposedly her diary, but it looks like a notepad. Maybe it’s her cell phone or something. Also, she seems to be left-handed (not complaining, just pointing it out).

It’s a pain getting to the airport. Betty has to sit in the middle seat on the plane, squeezed between two dudes. Aunt Gertrude’s house smells “weird”. The traffic is “horrifying”. The TV is “broken”. Um, more like the little rabbit-ears antenna gets no reception. How old is Aunt Gertrude, anyway? Standing on a hilltop and looking out over the city, though, Betty finds it “amazing”.

Betty’s internship at HelloGiggles (misspelled here with a space) is “so cool”. She loves the Grove (especially riding on streetcars). The weather is “amazing”. The best thing is the freedom (from her mom, no doubt). Someone comes up to Betty while she’s laying out on a towel and says hi.

Back in Riverdale, Polly is on her cell phone, chatting with Betty. She’s not interested in what Betty has to say and asks what the boys are like. Alice overhears and asks if “Elizabeth” is calling collect. Polly informs her out-of-touch mom that Betty has a cell phone. Betty’s hanging out at the beach and tells Polly about the guy that she met, Rad Brad. She also tells Polly to not laugh and says he’s nice. Polly wants to hear everything. Brad skateboards, surfs, brings her food sometimes (from Taco Now!), and helps her with the Toni Morrison book party that she’s organizing. Polly’s impressed. Betty says Brad asked her out to dinner at Mel’s (Betty has to explain to Polly what that is). Betty’s unsure if she’s interested in him “like that”, but Polly tells “Betts” to do it, because she deserves “a little love”. Watching the sunset, Betty considers it and asks how Polly and Jason are. Not smiling, Polly tells her to not worry about them.

Before we move on to the next scene, some notes about Polly’s bedroom: she has a large American flag on the wall behind her bed and a lava lamp on her night stand.

On their date, Betty looks at the pricey food on the menu and offers to split a milkshake, but Brad doesn’t “do dairy”. She orders a chocolate milkshake. He asks what she thinks of LA so far. She loves it (moreso than Riverdale, it seems). He offers to show her the city.

They go to a carnival. He buys her cotton candy. Betty talks about her rejection from the River Vixens last year, due to Cheryl. She doesn’t “really” hate living in a small town, because her friends and Archie are there. After he asks about Archie, and she says he’s not her boyfriend, Brad suddenly kisses Betty on the lips, surprising her. She apologizes to him (don’t; he owes you an apology!) and asks him to take her back to her aunt’s house.

On July 5th, Betty calls home and is informed by Alice that Polly’s “gone away for a bit”, because she’s “not herself right now”. Betty wants to fly home, but Alice suggests she stay there and also informs her that Jason drowned yesterday. A shocked Betty drops her cell phone. After she picks it up, Alice tells her to stay in LA, because there’s nothing that she can do, so she stays.

Nothing ends up happening with Brad, because it just doesn’t feel right, so he leaves her at Mel’s to sob into her expensive chocolate milkshake.

Her internship is amazing. The book signing goes off without a hitch. Toni even signs her book. Betty feels like she’s finally found her voice. Her coworkers present her with a “We’ll Miss You!” cake. She definitely made some new friends. It was a summer unlike any that she’d ever had before.

However, as much as she loves the reserved seating at the ArcLight, the Truffle Burger at Umami (um, I guess money isn’t an issue anymore), and hiking to the Hollywood Sign at sunset, Betty admits missing home, the bijou, Pop’s, her friends, and Polly. She almost misses her mom, and she really misses Archie. Her mom promised her, by the time that she’s home, everything will be back to normal. It wasn’t.

Something changed while she was away. She saw it in the way that people walked and looked at her (or didn’t). She saw it in her sister’s room (Alice got rid of everything except the flag and furniture), where she could still feel her presence (likening it to a car hood that’s still warm).

Betty realizes she’s changed over the summer. She learned a lot about herself, including what she wants, and she’s going to get it, no matter what. She makes herself up and then goes to Pop’s, where Archie’s waiting in a booth with a chocolate milkshake and two straws, and greets him. He smiles back at her. Like in the previous story, I guess this is the beginning of their meeting at Pop’s from the first episode, but their outfits don’t match either the previous story or the episode. The milkshake doesn’t match the previous story either.

This was a pretty good coming-of-age story. Apparently, it will be continued, but I believe it’s referring to the show. I do have to point out that Betty’s outfits are more normal for a teenage girl than the “prim and proper” outfits that she wears on the show.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Sweetwater

Riverdale-One-Shot.jpg
Writer: Brian E. Paterson
Art: Elliot Fernandez
Colors: Thomas Chu
Letters: John Workman
Original Publication: Riverdale One-Shot
Cover Date: April, 2017
On-Sale Date: March 1, 2017
Length: 10 pages

I’m sorry that this is a bit late. This can be blamed on two things: thunderstorms (today) and a drunken redneck country karaoke party with fireworks (yesterday). Imagine the worst goddamn country music that you can think of and then imagine it being sung by a bunch of drunks…while shooting off fireworks…pretty much right in your backyard.

Anyway, let’s get to the story. This is the first of four in this issue, which serves as a sort of prequel to the first episode.

Archie’s hanging out by himself at Pop’s. He narrates about stuff. Wait, who’s he narrating to and why? Anyway, he thinks about a movie quote. Betty left Riverdale for a summer internship in L.A. a week ago. He and Jughead had a falling out. With no school, no friends, and no football practices (Archie practiced football before the show?), he decided to help his dad full-time at Andrews Construction. He has a feeling that “there’s something big coming”.

So we get a montage. Basically, Archie bulks up (getting looks from the ladies in the process) and composes poems in his head.

One day, Fred decides to clean out the garage – after Archie has worked a ten-hour shift. Basically, Fred’s a packrat and doesn’t wanna throw any useless shit out. He has a Stratocaster from back in the day. Archie’s surprised that Fred used to play and wants to borrow it, but he has to be content with the acoustic guitar that his dad got him for his sixteenth birthday.

Then we get the flashback from the first episode where Ms. Grundy picked Archie up after work, but it doesn’t exactly match the scene in the episode. Every night, she picks him up after work, they drive out to Sweetwater River, and they fuck. Archie has some mixed feelings and is insecure. Typical teenage stuff.

One day, “Geraldine” drops him off at home and notices the guitar on his front porch. They go up to the porch, and he plays for her. She says he has potential and suggests “private lessons”. He agrees.

One day, toward the end of June, he stops by Pop’s after work, because he wants to surprise Ms. Grundy with dinner. Jughead’s there, typing on his laptop, and he invites Archie to catch up with him. He does. Suddenly, Jughead suggests they take a road trip down to Centerville on the Fourth of July to see fireworks, like they used to when they were kids. Archie agrees, although he’s not sure why.

On July 3rd, Archie’s hanging out with Ms. Grundy outside somewhere. They both love summer. He asks what she’s doing for the Fourth. She says going camping down by Sweetwater River. She invites him to come, and he agrees.

Then we get the July 4th flashback from Archie’s perspective that we saw in episode 02, except, again, it’s not quite the same, since the comic adds a campfire and a blanket.

They’re mostly silent during the ride home and tell themselves that it was a hunter, shooting a deer, or fireworks. Archie asks who’s lighting fireworks at 6:00 AM on July 4th, but, from what I’ve witnessed around here, idiots light fireworks at all times of the day, even before July 4th.

Anyway, then they hear the whole thing about Cheryl and Jason. Clifford looks way too blue-collar (literally) and shows more compassion in this comic than he did on the show. Ms. Grundy turns into a nervous wreck, suddenly feels it was all wrong, and makes Archie promise to keep quiet. She breaks it off with him and drops him off at home. He understands it’s right and for the best, but it still hurts like hell.

On July 6th, Archie’s with Jughead at Pop’s. He’d forgotten about their broken date. Jughead is upset and questions Archie about it. Archie nervously says his dad needed his help, but Jughead sees through his lie and leaves.

After that, Archie puts his poems to paper and realizes they’re song lyrics about dying young and losing friends.

By July 26th, he’s filled up the notebook with song lyrics.

On August 13th, he picks up his guitar (which he’d already picked up on July 26th) and “[writes his] guts out” until the last day of summer vacation.

Then Betty texts him. She’s back home from her internship and invites him to Pop’s. He considers telling her everything but doesn’t because of his promise to Ms. Grundy. He accepts her invitation.

Then we get what I guess is the beginning of their meeting at Pop’s from the first episode, but their outfits don’t match at all. Archie had ordered milkshakes (strawberry for him, vanilla for her). They hug.

He wonders how different that things might have been if he’d just been honest with Betty that night instead of pretending nothing had happened.

This was a pretty good. story. Apparently, it will be continued, but I’m not sure if it means on the show or in the next story in the issue (which isn’t a continuation).

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 7

Betty-and-Veronica-Vixens-7.jpgWriter: Jamie Lee Rotante
Art: Jen Vaughn
Colors: Elaina Unger (pages 1-11), Matt Herms (pages 12-20*)
Letters: Rachel Deering
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 7
Cover Date: August, 2018
On-Sale Date: June 13, 2018
Length: 19 pages*

*Think about that.

Before the story, there’s a recap of the previous issue on the credits page. It says Ang is working closely with Doc, something that wasn’t exactly clear in the issue itself.

Yes, I have read about the series’ cancellation with issue #10. It’s a shame, because I’ve mostly been enjoying this series. Maybe strong sales of the first trade, which comes out on July 24, will earn the series a reprieve? On June 22, I noticed a massive price drop for back issues (not for just this series but all of them): $0.99 for most back issues and $1.99 for current issues and some more recent back issues. That’s way more affordable than $3.99 per issue. Of course, it also means Archie Comics won’t be making as much per sale, but maybe it’ll convince more people to buy them?

Anyway, let’s get into the current issue:

The Vixens are doing cheerleading practice on an empty football field. Notably, Cheryl has brought the rest of the biker Vixens onto the cheerleading squad. Cheryl, Betty, and Veronica are on top – with Cheryl being slightly higher. It’s a cute pose.

Meanwhile, on the Riverdale/Pembrooke border, some guy with a beard finds fresh motorcycle tracks.

Back at Riverdale High School, in the girls’ locker room, Cheryl compliments her squad on a good practice but asks Toni to put in a little more effort next time. Toni slams her locker shut and says she doesn’t wanna be a fucking cheerleader, calling it ridiculous. According to Cheryl, it’s a way to “force camaraderie” amongst the Vixens and let them get to know each other better. Toni suggests they join Cheryl’s derby league instead, but Cheryl suggests Toni might not be tough enough. The point is Cheryl’s the motherfucking head cheerleader, end of fucking story. Toni questions everything, including Cheryl’s motives. Evelyn asks Cheryl about her formation. Cheryl says it was terrible.

Y’know, I just noticed the sheer length of Cheryl’s hair in this series. It goes down past her ass. Do any girls really wear their hair that long?

Later, Betty and Veronica are heading out the front entrance and notice a cop car. An officer is meeting with Mr. Weatherbee, Mr. Lodge, and Beard Guy (who decided to shave most of it for a five o’clock shadow look). Beard Guy (whose name is Mr. Williams) is questioning Mr. Weatherbee about Toni. Veronica asks her dad what’s going on. Mr. Lodge says they’ll discuss it in the car. He offers to give Betty a ride home and asks Mr. Williams to join them.

Seemingly a few hours later (seriously, it looks like it’s past sundown), Toni’s walking along a sidewalk, listening to music, and bitching to herself about Cheryl. Doc’s following her in his car and talking to Ang. There’s a trippy sequence where Toni apparently sees ghouls or some shit. What the fuck? Anyway, Ang shows up, scaring the shit out of Toni. Ang has Toni come with her.

Meanwhile, the girls are still riding with Mr. Lodge and Mr. Williams for who knows how fucking long (the limo’s headlights are on). Mr. Williams voices concerns over continued gang activity in the town, despite the Serpents being gone. Mr. Lodge explains Mr. Williams is the head of a neighborhood watch committee that will “crack down” on the town’s rules. Um, what are they gonna go? Record cell phone videos and call the cops? Anyway, Mr. Lodge gets Veronica to agree to this “for the betterment of us all”. Mr. Williams asks the girls if they know anyone that rides a motorcycle. Just then, Betty spots Toni running outside. Mr. Lodge asks if she knows her. Betty starts to say she’s their friend, but Veronica interrupts and says she’s a barely-known classmate. For some reason, this irritates Betty.

Ang brings Toni to Doc, and Toni is immediately pissed. Ang admits she’s been meeting with Doc instead of kickboxing. Doc claims he has “an in with the PD” and will keep them off their backs, so they can really help the people. He brings up Ang’s asshole ex-boyfriend and praises the Vixens. Ang, crying, begs Toni to give Doc a chance. Toni agrees but reserves the right to final judgment in case Doc pulls shit. Doc says she doesn’t have to worry.

As Toni gets out of the car, Cheryl observes the scene from overhead like she’s Batgirl or something. It’s unclear what she’s standing on, but the angle makes it clear that she’s watching from above. She’s drinking a soda or milkshake or whatever and is suspicious of the meeting.

Some blond guy is seemingly getting a text from Mr. Williams asking for info on Toni. He gets out of his car and confronts Toni about being out past curfew (which is now no longer 9:00 PM). He questions her. Cheryl skates by and covers for her, saying Toni is going to Cheryl’s house to study. That seems good enough for the guy, who tells the girls to stay out of trouble. Cheryl skates past them, tosses her cup to Toni (Toni has a “What the fuck?” look on her face; I’m with her; seriously, what the fuck, Cheryl?), and tells Toni to be at the beach tomorrow. That’s it. No specific time.

The next day, outside Bullfrog Beach (which we’ve never heard of before), the Vixens meet. Cheryl says it’s nice of the ladies to show up. It sure is, considering Cheryl’s vagueness about when to show up. And where, apparently. I’m guessing this isn’t their regular beach.

Anyway, Betty’s impatient and asks Cheryl what this is about. Cheryl says one of their own is “moonlighting” with the enemy. Veronica, equally impatient, asks Cheryl what she’s babbling about. Cheryl tells them what she saw. Toni says it’s not a big deal. Betty questions her about it. Toni starts to explain about Doc helping them, but Veronica says they don’t need help. Toni plays the race card and basically calls Veronica and Cheryl privileged white bitches.

Just then, a rival all-girl biker gang (because, apparently, there are two of those in Riverdale), the Thrashers, shows up. There are four of them. Apparently, Bullfrog Beach is Thrashers’ turf, and they’re gonna fucking rumble.

Betty claims they “must be understood” and says they “were just leaving”. That don’t work. The Thrashers’ leader declares “it’s on”. Cheryl cracks her knuckles and is eager to kick these bitches’ asses, but Betty begs her to not do it. Too late, though. It’s on! Evelyn shows up late and casually greets Sue, one of the Thrashers. This is Sue Stringly, one of the old Little Archie characters. Sue was a poor girl, and she and her family lived in a shack near the railway tracks, next to a coal mine. She was always upbeat and cheerful and never complained or despaired. She was apparently Veronica’s cousin. She later reappeared as a teenage secret agent that rescued Archie and befriended Betty (Agent B) and Veronica (Agent V). She also reappeared as an attractive teen in more normal continuity.

Anyway, none of that shit’s relevant here. The Thrashers are scared of Eve, so the leader tells Sue, Cricket (Cricket O’Dell, a teen with the stupid gimmick of being able to determine the exact amount of money that a person’s carrying by smell), and Pep (Pepper Smith, a pre-Pussycats friend of Josie and Melody) that they’re getting the fuck out of here. I guess it’s no longer on.

As the Thrashers are about to leave, Betty asks the leader (who still hasn’t been named) why they wanted to fight them. The leader explains they’re a gang that showed up on a rival gang’s turf wearing their gang colors. Betty suggests ditching those preconceived notions and joining forces. Cheryl face-palms. Betty gives a sweet smile, blushing, and it’s so adorable. The Thrashers’ leader puts on her helmet and tells the Vixens to stay off their turf. I need to point out that she has a picture of a hand flipping the bird on the back of her vest. That’s pretty funny.

The cops arrive. So does Doc. He has both gangs follow him (although the artwork seems to place only Betty, Cheryl, Veronica (I think), and one other person between Doc and the cops).

Anyway, following Doc has somehow allowed the girls to escape the cops. Ethel is appreciative, but Cheryl points out that Doc could have tipped the cops off. The Thrashers’ leader sides with “Big Red”. Toni apologizes to Doc. After the Vixens and most of the Thrashers leave, Doc pulls Sue (who’s trying to fix her apparently-broken bike) and shoves her into his car. He takes off.

Later that night, at Lodge Manor, Veronica works up the courage to ask her dad about what Mr. Williams is doing and if he (Mr. Williams) will find out where Abbey is. They talk about what they know or don’t know about Abbey. Mr. Lodge is pessimistic about her character, but Veronica says “She’s still a human being.” This seemingly convinces Mr. Lodge to have Mr. Williams look into it. He tells Veronica to get some sleep and then walks off, leaving her on the balcony. Veronica whispers “Who are you?” Is she referring to her dad, like asking “What game are you playing?”

Meanwhile, at Sugar’s Roller Rink, Cheryl is in the locker room, lacing up for her team’s next match (she’s #66). Eve and the Thrashers’ leader confront Cheryl about Sue’s disappearance. Eve even picks up Cheryl (well, as much as she can) and slams her against the lockers. Cheryl doesn’t wanna deal with this stupid shit from “undignified” “psychos” and forcefully tells the shorter Evelyn to put her down. Eve does. Cheryl wonders why the fuck they’re shaking her up about this. As the leader (who still hasn’t been fucking named) explains, “You call the shots. You get the heat.” Cheryl’s a bit flattered to be assumed to be the Vixens’ leader. She doesn’t trust Doc either and, referring to Betty as “America’s Sweetheart”, brings up the idea of putting aside their differences to find Sue. The leader agrees but says this doesn’t make them friends. Cheryl is fine with that. Cheryl has some “hips to check” and leaves the locker room with the girls. Basically, that was Cheryl’s way of saying she has to get whistles and cheers from the audience.

In the warehouse, Chester (I guess) throws Abbey and Sue into the back of a van and asks Doc how much that they’ll bring in. Doc says enough, but he has a photo of a winking Cheryl (with crosshairs over her face) and has plans to kidnap her as well.

This was another good issue! I’m looking forward to the next one. After the story is a one-page cover gallery for this issue and another Riverdale Gazette article (dated June of 2018); this one talks about the Neighborhood Watch Committee. Apparently, Riverdale has never had one before this one was formed on Mr. Lodge’s discretion. It’s comprised of business associates, legal counsel affiliated with Mr. Lodge, and trained volunteers. The new, earlier town curfew is 7:00 PM on weekdays and 8:00 PM on weekends. We learn Mr. Williams’ first name is Marcus. There’s a full-page ad for the first Vixens trade paperback. Finally, there’s the cover of Betty & Veronica: Vixens #8, which has Veronica and Betty driving down a street. Veronica’s wearing a shirt with a skull on it. Betty’s wearing a shirt that says “Queen B” (um, Cheryl might take issue with that) and playing with a chain.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Romance 4Ever!

Archie-and-Me-Digest-8.jpg
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Jeff Shultz
Inks: Jim Amash
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Archie and Me Comics Digest, No. 8
On-Sale Date: June 13, 2018
Length: 5

I’m sorry that this is late. It’s actually a substitution, due to various technical issues.

Archie, Kevin, Betty, and Veronica spot a film crew in front of someone’s house and wonder what’s going on. Veronica asks a camera operator. He says they’re filming a TV movie for the Hallstone Channel. It’s based on a book by Olivia Smithington-James. Betty and Veronica collectively lose their shit, because, as Veronica points out, that’s the pen name of “the one and only” Ms. Grundy.

Archie and the girls go into Ms. Grundy’s classroom (note: this issue came out during summer vacation). Archie (perhaps uncharacteristically) excitedly asks if Ms. Grundy’s still writing romance novels. Betty asks if they’re making a movie out of one of her books. Ms. Grundy happily confirms both. A footnote explains Ms. Grundy started writing romance novels in “the now-classic” Veronica #186 and tells the readers to check it out.

Okay, let’s take a pause from the story. Remember how, on the Introduction page for this blog, I explained “there is no continuity – until there is” and said there’s “the rare odd reference to an ancient story”? This is one of those instances. Veronica #186 was cover-dated March of 2008 and probably came out in late 2007. The story in question is an 11-pager called “Isn’t It Romantic?”, the lead story of that issue. It had mostly the same team as this story, except Parent did the pencils as well as the script, and Barry Grossman did the colors. Here’s the synopsis from Grand Comics Database: “A new romance author is very popular among the girls at Riverdale. Then a local bookstore advertises a book signing by the mysterious author only known as “GiGi”. But when looking for Miss Grundy, Veronica notices the unpublished novel’s text on Mr. Weatherbee’s computer and assumes he’s the author.” Apparently, for whatever reason, Parent decided to write a sequel to this “now-classic” story – and dragged it into current continuity as a result. (This isn’t the first time that this has been done; see my reviews of “Way Out West” and “Westward, Huh?“.)

On the Introduction page, I further wrote “Also, the characters’ years of birth have to, logically, increase by one every year, so they simply won’t have experienced things that the characters did, say, eighteen years ago. Technology, fashion, and entertainment are constantly changing, and so must the characters.”

Let’s assume the characters, as they are being published today, are in the summer vacation between their junior and senior years of high school. Veronica #186, therefore, would have been published around winter break in their first-grade year. Technology, fashion, and entertainment have changed tremendously for teens since then. In particular, technology has increased exponentially. We’ve gone through four new versions of Windows. YouTube went from 240p resolution to (theoretically) 8K and added 3D, 60 fps, 360-degree, and High Dynamic Range. Nintendo has gone through multiple handheld consoles. We went from the Wii to the Wii U to the Switch. We can pay using our cell phones. The PS3 slimmed down twice and then went away, and we’re now on the Pro version of the PS4. The Xbox 360 came out with new editions, only to go away and make way for the One and its new editions. 4K home theater projectors came out. Various sticks and other devices to watch streaming television came out. Blu-ray came out with an Ultra HD format for those that have 4K televisions. Cable is losing tons of customers and isn’t even on the radar of most of today’s teens, who prefer binge-watching shows on Netflix or watching sub-20-minute YouTube content created by their peers.

Then there’s Kindle Fire and the rise of the e-book. The point of all of this is it’s inconceivable that the Betty and Veronica of today would be at all interested in old Ms. Grundy’s Hallmark-worthy granny romance novels, not when they can go online and read fanfics or get cheap or even free original romance (of varying levels of heat) off Amazon. Hell, I used to hang out in a used bookstore in the mid-to-late-2000s, and I never once saw a teen girl buy a traditional romance novel; they were there for gaming tournaments.

But this is what Dan Parent’s going with in 2018, so let’s continue.

Archie guesses Ms. Grundy’s rich now, but she says it’s for television, and her publisher owns most of the rights (side rant: if you want to publish an original story, self-publish it; never go the traditional publishing route; the contracts have gotten worse, being horribly unfair to the writers, often taking away the copyright from them for life plus more and also often including “do not compete” clauses, meaning you couldn’t even write something else and self-publish it while under contract with a traditional publisher); she gets a small cut, and that’s it. Betty says that doesn’t seem fair (understatement of the year), since Ms. Grundy is doing the initial creative work. As Ms. Grundy wipes the chalkboard (um, no, it’s 2018; schools use dry-erase whiteboards), she claims, if the movie is a hit, she can renegotiate. How, pray tell, if your publisher owns most of the rights?

As the teens leave the classroom, Archie’s positively orgasmic over Ms. Grundy being “the Queen of Romance”. Betty just wishes Ms. Grundy would get all of the benefits that she deserves.

Later, Kevin comes by to inform Archie and an eager Betty that they’re filming a scene now, and the stars are Brock Kincaid from The Bold and the Bolder and Michelle DuBois from Hearts Ablaze. Betty brings up that the shows are cancelled (um, not true for the former). Kevin says they still have a cult following. Archie notices a “familiar” guy and asks Kevin for his name. Kevin says that’s Todd Blankly, the former host of the game show, What’s Your Problem? He plays the mayor of the town. Betty notices Ms. Grundy sharing a laugh with Todd.

Kevin and Betty start speculating they’re a couple, despite Ms. Grundy being decades older. Ms. Grundy invites the teens over. She explains the TV producers are letting her “advise a bit” on the set and introduces Todd. Kevin and Betty are all “wink, wink, nudge, nudge”, confusing Ms. Grundy. Archie says he’ll see her back in school. Um, so is this occurring during a school day or what? Anyway, Kevin tells…someone (Ms. Grundy? Betty?), “Now behave yourself!”

A few days later, at school, Archie asks Ms. Grundy if they’ve finished filming the movie. She says pretty much. Now that that’s over with, Veronica is eager to know about her elderly teacher’s sex life. Ms. Grundy puts Veronica in her place but then confirms it, saying the guy’s picking her up from school today. So how’d she get here? Anyway, an eager Veronica pulls Betty along, so they can watch the two lovers “in action”. Archie follows. It turns out that Ms. Grundy is dating the even younger Brock Kincaid. Veronica wants to be Ms. Grundy when she grows up. Betty exclaims “Wow! Way to work it, Ms. Grundy!”

So I guess the point of this story is, no matter the universe, Ms. Grundy likes ’em young? Whatever. The story’s okay but feels outdated.

Tune in next Wednesday!

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!