Comics – Taking Care of Business

Betty-and-Veronica-257.jpg
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Pencils: Jeff Shultz
Inking: Jim Amash
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica, No. 257
Cover Date: February, 2012
On-Sale Date: December 21, 2011
Length: 24 pages

At the Lodges’ winter lodge (the Lodge Lodge, if you will), as Betty waits to leave on a trip, Veronica is rattling off instructions to Smithers to take care of her shit. Betty points out that there’s a snowstorm on the way, it’s getting late, and they should’ve been on the road an hour ago. They leave the lodge. Veronica’s confident that she’ll have them down the mountain and on the road in no time. Betty pulls Veronica away as she’s about to give Smithers more instructions. Betty says bye to Smithers. Smithers says bye to Betty and wishes (just?) Betty a safe trip.

As they drive off, the girls argue over Veronica’s delegation of tasks to her staff.

As Veronica talks about her travel plan, a deer crosses the road, and Veronica swerves off the road to avoid it, telling Betty to hold on.

They crash into a log. Dazed, Veronica gets out of the car, berating the “stupid deer”. She realizes Betty is in a lot worse shape.

Veronica opens the door. Betty’s still conscious, and Veronica helps “hun” out. Betty asks what happened, and Veronica explains. As Veronica helps her sit on a rock, Betty asks why everything’s spinning. Veronica explains Betty hit her head, says (without proof) she’ll be okay, and tells her to rest. Veronica goes to get her cell phone (to call the lodge) and some other stuff from the car – just before it breaks the log and crashes into some bushes.

Betty falls off the rock. Veronica helps her up and tells her to stay awake, because she might have a concussion. Betty’s tired, but Veronica orders “hun” to her feet. Betty agrees with “Mom”.

Veronica isn’t getting a cell signal, and she sits on a log and panics, convinced they’ll freeze to death. She asks Betty for help. Betty stands up, supporting herself on a tree branch, and suggests making hot cocoa, because it’s very cold. Veronica knows Betty is in no shape to help.

Veronica realizes it’s all on her. She helps Betty sit down but tells her to keep talking and stay awake. Veronica is determined to keep them going until a search party arrives. She’s well aware that everyone thinks she’s helpless without her staff, but she decides, as the supposed future leader of Lodge Industries, to prove she can handle things. She starts thinking of their situation as running a business.

Betty asks for the cocoa. First, though, Veronica makes a makeshift tent out of a fallen branch and plastic rain ponchos. She has Betty get into the tent and instructs her to stay awake.

Veronica goes out and gathers dry wood for a later fire (capital in reserve). She goes back to the tent to check on Betty, who’s sleepy and cold and really wants that cocoa now. Veronica tells “hun” that she’ll get it soon and tells her to stay awake. Betty doesn’t know if she can.

Veronica suggests singing (keeping up morale), so they sing “Let It Snow”.

Later, Betty’s snoring wakes Veronica up. Veronica is momentarily disoriented as to where she is and surprised by Betty’s snoring (but not concerned that she’s asleep) but then, to her delight, realizes her shelter worked, and they made it through the storm. She takes the wood that she’d gathered and clears a space for a fire.

Lacking matches, she uses her nail file and a hitherto-unmentioned piece of quartz that she’d found to start a fire. Veronica keeps making business comparisons as she rips up a magazine to feed the fire.

She gets out her cell phones (or hers and Betty’s), realizes there’s still no reception, but remembers the built-in GPS tracking. She leaves only one on at a time to conserve batteries. Betty wakes up, disappointed that last night wasn’t just a dream. Veronica asks “hun” how she’s feeling.

Betty insists to “Ronnie” that she’s fine, despite Veronica guessing she has a concussion. Betty seems to prove her right and admits it. She’s surprised that Veronica made the shelter and the fire and jokes Smithers found them. Veronica threatens to not share a chicken salad sandwich with her. Betty compliments Veronica.

They talk for a bit as they eat. Betty’s head hurts. Veronica tells her to rest and leaves the tent. Betty says she’s the boss. Veronica tells “baby” that she’s “the chairwoman of the board”. She climbs a snow bank to reach the road but falls and crashes into a tree so hard that she knocks it over a bit. Betty cracks a joke. Bitch.

Veronica starts up a huge, smoky fire (advertising) with some wet wood to attract the attention of the search party. Betty uses some nylon thread and a safety pin from the sewing kit to make a fishing line. Veronica praises her “employee” and also mentions they fish in the river all winter long at the lodge. Veronica gives Betty a “raise”, paid in fish. Betty’s over the business comparisons.

Veronica feeds the fire, names her business “Survival, Incorporated”, and uses a protein bar as bait to catch fish. She catches something. In her battle with “Mr. Fish”, Veronica “The Closer” Lodge falls flat on her ass. Checking to make sure that Betty didn’t see (she didn’t), she tries again. She eventually catches two fish. Betty feels guilty for letting Veronica do all of the work. Veronica tasks Betty with cleaning and cooking the fish. Betty notes more snow is coming.

As she cleans the fish with a nail file, Betty apologizes to Veronica for her earlier comments, saying, when it really mattered, Veronica stepped up and got the job done. Betty adds Veronica probably even saved her life. Betty calls Veronica her best friend and says she loves her. She starts to thank her for something else but then hears snoring and realizes Veronica’s fallen asleep in the tent. Betty tells “Madam Chairwoman” to sleep tight, saying she’s earned it.

The next morning, Veronica wakes up and sits bolt upright at the sound of a voice outside saying there’s nothing down here. Betty slowly wakes up. Angry at being ignored, Veronica gets out of the tent and screams at the rescuers.

Shortly, Veronica and Betty have been pulled up and are being informed by the sheriff (I guess) of the storm delaying their search. He praises Veronica for leaving on her cell phone, so they could track her by GPS. Mr. Lodge arrives, overjoyed that the girls are all right. They were worried sick. Veronica is modest regarding their survival, so Betty tells him the truth. Hiram asks Veronica for confirmation. Veronica says she learned from watching him. He says he’s the world’s worst camper, but Veronica clarifies she was “just taking care of business–Lodge style”. Betty calls Veronica “girlfriend”. The end.

This was a really nice, warm, moving story. There are certain things that I find questionable (the “tent” of plastic ponchos held up by one branch, Veronica starting a fire with a nail file and quartz, Betty just getting over a concussion), but it’s a wonderful exploration of Veronica Lodge as a character and of the Betty/Veronica friendship. Or is it more than friendship?

The story’s only flaw (if you can even call it a flaw) is it’s very basic in a lot of the conversation and actions, feeling decompressed. This review is actually shorter than a lot of my reviews of 20-page stories. Oh, well.

After the story is a one-page “sneak peak” of the alternate cover for the issue (I guess ultimately unpublished, since GCDb doesn’t have it indexed) and an Everything’s Archie preview page. I actually love the alternate cover a lot more than the cover that they went with. It’s very dramatic, showing the immediate aftermath of the accident with a panicking Veronica; the deer running away; and a very dazed, injured Betty sitting in the snow.

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Comics – Fall

Betty-and-Veronica-2.jpgWriter: Jamie Lee Rotante
Line Art: Sandra Lanz
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica, Vol. 4, No. 2
Cover Date: March, 2019
On-Sale Date: January 30, 2019
Length: 20 pages

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

Veronica is working as the new editorial intern at Sparkle Publishing. She’s in the middle of a phone call, makes a Baby Spice reference, and then has to convince the person that she’s speaking with that she knows who that is. Cute. 🙂 Ginger comes by and asks Veronica if she’s busy. Nah, of course not. That’s why she was in the middle of a business call.

Outside, Ginger asks Veronica how she likes the internship so far. Veronica likes it. It comes natural to her. Ginger’s dad has taken notice of how Veronica dealt with a minor situation in the break room, so Ginger brings up Veronica having her own column in print. In print?! Holy shit! Um, who cares? What teen is gonna go out and read a column in a print magazine? Anyway, Veronica is excited, assuming it’s a fashion column, but it’s actually an advice column. Veronica doubts she’s the right person for it and suggests Betty as a better fit. Rather than address that, Ginger asks about Betty, noting she hardly sees her anymore.

Veronica flashes back to the pinky-swear pact and learning from Reggie that Betty’s with Archie. Ginger calls Veronica back to the present. Veronica says they’re busy and can’t even meet up themselves. Ginger asks about the advice column, and Veronica doesn’t seem to have an answer.

Betty’s volunteering at a Habitat For Humanity knockoff, and Jughead comes by and pesters her to let him interview her for The Blue and Gold about it, despite her wanting to stay out of the spotlight.

Archie’s here, shirtless and showing off for the ladies. Betty asks Jughead about it. Jughead guesses it’s just another stop on his Bettering Himself Tour. Betty flashes back to drunkenly kissing Archie on the cheek. Raj let Jughead borrow his camera to get some “action shots” of Betty at work. Betty abruptly asks Jughead for the time (because it’s not like she has a cell phone or anything). Jughead seems to guess 4:15. Betty was supposed to tutor Moose at 4:00. Abandoning the tools and her current work, she runs off, saying they’ll have to reschedule the interview. Jughead says it’s due tomorrow, but Betty either doesn’t hear him or doesn’t give a shit.

Betty arrives at Moose’s house and sees Midge outside. He’s still home, and Midge is hoping Betty can get through to him. Betty tries to reassure her of Moose’s feelings for her, but Midge isn’t convinced and angrily leaves.

In the living room, Betty asks Moose if he’s okay. Moose asks her if she thinks he’s an idiot. She says no. He’s convinced everyone else at Riverdale High thinks he is. He can’t do anything except play football, and he can’t even do that anymore, losing out on every football scholarship that he’d applied for. He’s convinced he’s gonna work at his dad’s fishing shop for the rest of his life. Betty tries to encourage him. Moose is doubtful, having missed a month of school. Betty is confident. Moose compares her favorably to Veronica.

Later, as Betty arrives home, she checks her messages. She got a text from Veronica at 4:45 PM, inviting her to Pop’s “around 6ish”. Betty apologizes, saying her tutoring session ran long. She also apologizes to her mom for being late for dinner. Alice informs her that Hal lost his job today. Hal explains there were a lot of layoffs. Betty offers to get a part-time job at the bijou. Hal says she’s too busy and tells her to leave it to them. He also mentions they have an emergency college fund for her but then says no more about it. I wonder what the implication is. Are they gonna dip into it? Alice seconds what Hal said. Hal is hopeful that Betty will get a Pickens scholarship, which will help them out.

Meanwhile, at Lodge Manor, Veronica is checking her texts. She and Betty have to keep putting off seeing each other, due to school obligations. I don’t know if students’ lives during senior year are so hectic today, but I certainly don’t remember being that busy when I was in high school (I graduated in 1996). Of course, I pretty much knew I’d just be attending the local community college, which was near my high school, anyway, so that might explain why I didn’t feel so much pressure. I never did the whole “go away to college” thing. Any younger readers, what are your thoughts on how this series portrays the lives of high school seniors today?

Anyway, Hermione and Hiram come in. Hermione asks Veronica how her day was. It was busy, full of hard work. Veronica senses something’s up. Hiram pretty much insists Veronica attend Hitchens. Veronica agrees to send her application in on Monday. Hiram dismisses that, deciding to pull some strings. Veronica shuts that down right away. She learns from Hiram that the lumber factory just laid off ten people, including Betty’s dad (Hiram is more concerned about how this affects his architectural firm). Veronica needs to call Betty and makes her parents put off their discussion until later.

Veronica calls Betty, and the two of them catch up. Neither of them have applied to Pickens yet, so Betty suggests they both do it now, together, while on the phone. Veronica uses her laptop. Betty fills out a paper application, shockingly seeming to not have a computer. I really don’t find that credible. My parents and I have never held great jobs, but I’m currently on my fourth PC, and my mom has a PC and a laptop. I also have a tablet. We both worked at Walmart until a little over three years ago; now, it’s just me; my dad died five years ago and hadn’t worked for years before that. Betty seems to imply her mom works, so both of her parents were working until just today. And they couldn’t buy even one cheap computer at Walmart for use by the entire family?

Also, before I move on, I need to address the (rejection?) letters that Veronica got from various colleges. There’s Midvale College, Central State, University of Greendale, and Hitchens. Midvale is where Josie and the Pussycats live (in some continuities). Greendale is where Sabrina lives (again, in some continuities). Central is one of Riverdale High’s rivals. Those, in addition to the local Pickens University, total four local institutes of higher learning. There is one college and one technical institute in my county, so Riverdale’s definitely gotta be a more urban environment, yet the lumber factory is one of its “largest industries”. Is Riverdale supposed to be the size of Tampa, Florida, or Forks, Washington?

Some time later, Betty and Toni are walking along a sidewalk. Leaves are falling. Halloween decorations have been set up. Toni asks how college applications are going. Betty’s sent out a bunch and is focusing on scholarship essays now. That’s something else that I never did. Toni’s sent out one application, because it costs $60.00 to apply each time. Betty never thought of that, because her parents have been helping her out with that. They arrive at the park (I guess) and sit on a bench. Toni says Betty’s lucky. Betty agrees but isn’t happy about it. Toni asks her about her and Veronica’s matching Halloween costumes for the dance. They’ve been so busy that they haven’t had the time. Betty watches Archie and Jughead throw a football back and forth and seems to feel guilty about the near-kiss.

Throughout October, Betty and Veronica go into overdrive. Oddly, they both pose in the same weird black dress for their yearbook photos, looking almost gothy but not quite. Betty doesn’t even smile.

On Monday morning, at Riverdale High School, Veronica’s applying her lipstick while looking in her locker’s mirror and casually greets Betty when the latter sleepily bangs her head into the next locker. Veronica has been meaning to talk to her about that night at Pickens. Before she can say anything, though, a pissed Ehtel comes by and manhandles (womanhandles?) Betty off to the cafeteria for the student election meeting. Apparently, in addition to being Ethel’s campaign manager, Betty is also “potential vice president of the student council”. I wonder if Betty had any input in that. Betty apologetically looks at Veronica as she’s dragged off.

In homeroom, Ginger comes by and gives Veronica something that she forgot to give her on Friday: an envelope full of money. Veronica protests, since she’s interning for college credit. Ginger (and George, the head editor at Sparkle) insists. Ginger wants Veronica to pass on a greeting from George to Hiram. Veronica is pissed.

In the cafeteria, Ms. Grundy leads the student election meeting, which Betty sleeps through, which pisses Ethel off. After the meeting. Ethel yells at Betty, and so does Midge, who’s jealous of Betty’s tutoring lessons with Moose. Betty’s like “The fuck?!” Seriously, it was Midge’s idea for Betty to tutor Moose. Betty seriously should just tell both of these bitches to fuck off.

Veronica’s on the phone with her dad and is arguing with him about him pulling strings. She angrily tears down and crumples a flier from the bulletin board for a Lodge Enterprises internship. She and Betty run into each other in a hallway and hug. Betty asks Veronica about Pickens. Veronica puts it off in favor of discussing Halloween costumes.

On Halloween, Betty and Veronica walk arm-in-arm into the Riverdale High gym for the party. Betty’s a devil, and Veronica’s an angel. Veronica excuses herself to take a piss and/or shit. Betty tries to talk to Ethel, but Ethel goes and sits with someone else, so Betty banters for a bit with Jughead.

In the hallway, Veronica meets up with Reggie. Reggie wants her to get him some alone time with Betty. After a moment, Veronica seems to agree. Betty comes out, looking for Ronnie. She sees Veronica and Reggie seeming to kiss (it isn’t clearly shown) and walks off, upset. Veronica calls out to her and goes outside, but Betty’s nowhere to be seen, just leaves blowing in the wind.

The next story will supposedly offer resolutions.

After the story is a one-page cover gallery for this issue, a page of fan art, an ad for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix, and the cover for the next issue (occurring during New Year’s Eve) with a blurb that teases more drama.

This is another good issue. I look forward to the next one.

Comics – Faith, Hope and Cheryl!

Cheryl-Blossom-Special-2.jpg
Writer: Bill Golliher
Pencils: Bill Golliher
Inking: Rudy Lapick
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Editor: Scott Fulop
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom Special, No. 2
Cover Date: 1995
Length: 16 pages (including a 6-page reprint)

One day (presumably Friday) at Pembrooke Academy, at the end of the school day, Cheryl and Jason are leaving their Sociology class, but their teacher, Mr. Goodfellow, wants to see them. Jason’s supposed to meet the guys at the yacht club, and Cheryl wants to go, too, to hang with Jason’s “good-looking” friends. He offers them extra credit. Jason’s grades could use a boost, so he agrees. Not to be outshone, Cheryl agrees as well. Mr. Goodfellow tells them to do volunteer work of their choice and report back to him at the end of the month. The one that does the most work gets the most bonus grade points. Jason and Cheryl exchange some trash talk. This is all a social experiment being conducted by Mr. Goodfellow: making “the most selfish, snobbish students at Pembrooke” do volunteer work; he just hopes he hasn’t unleashed anything too terrible on the world.

Jason finds some causes listed on the bulletin board, and they both decide to be big siblings. Oh, Cheryl casually mentions Archie. Cedric overhears and mentions an incident from “a while back”. This leads to Jason remembering “Color Coded“, and so we’re in flashback/reprint mode now. There are four alterations to the story, from what I can tell:

*Jason suggests something “frivolous” to be painted on Archie’s car instead of something “gay-frivolous”.

*Jason calls Elmo the Spray Doctor an “artist” instead of an “artiste”. I don’t know which possibility is worse: a misguided “correction” or intentional dumbing down.

*Part of Cheryl’s dialogue (“we’ll fool around–“) is removed, and her word balloon is made smaller.

*The “HAH” at the right side of the final panel is recolored from yellow to red, possibly to contrast better against the yellow bijou building.

On Saturday morning, Cheryl speeds in her pink sports car (almost running over a cat and an old lady) to meet her little sibling in a ghetto area. She has a head start on Jason, since she’d stopped at the organization yesterday afternoon.

At the house, Cheryl shakes hands with and introduces herself to a girl named Kay. She decides the house is depressing and pretty much kidnaps Kay, to her mother’s surprise.

Before I move on, I gotta note the cute vanity plate on the front of Cheryl’s car: 2RCH4U.

As she drives, Cheryl decides to call Kay Constance (since Kay is “so common”). At a stoplight, Jason meets up with her. He has two little brothers, due to registering with several agencies. Jason drives off, honking his horn. Deciding this is war, Cheryl has “Constance” give her a list of all of her friends.

Jason and his “brothers” are just leaving the billiards hall (the kids apparently didn’t do too well). Cheryl shows up with six girls crammed into her sports car (which I’m pretty sure is illegal), mentions taking them for mani-pedis, and then takes off. Jason decides to round up more kids before the big street hockey game.

At the salon, a girl asks Cheryl for ice cream. Cheryl agrees if they can work it in between the aerobics class and their massage appointments.

As the weeks go by, Jason teaches his boys to throw rotten fruit at carnival performers and hit on waitresses with lame pick-up lines. Cheryl takes her girls out for sushi (which possibly makes one of them sick), to yoga class, and to the hair salon (overdoing it with the hair).

Cheryl and Jason have dressed their kids like themselves. The girls run into the boys on the street, and Cheryl instructs them to ignore their lame pick-up lines. Jason and Cheryl decide to call it even for the rest of the month, but then Cheryl realizes their kids have disappeared.

The kids find Mr. Goodfellow’s house and complain to him. The girls are worried about Cheryl’s potential plans to take them helicopter skiing in Aspen, and the boys are worried about Jason’s definitive plans of a cliff-diving trip to Acapulco. Mr. Goodfellow decides to see if Cheryl’s Riverdale friends will take on the kids.

The next day, Mr. Goodfellow has Jason and Cheryl stay after class and come with him. Soon, they arrive in an area of Riverdale and see the kids playing baseball with Archie and Betty. Cheryl plans to yell at the kids for seeing other “big siblings” behind their backs, but Mr. Goodfellow points out that they’re happy, carefree, and having a good time (although, I have to point out, one of the girls is wearing a cap with Archie’s face on it). Cheryl takes this to mean he’s saying they weren’t doing a good job. He says maybe they just aren’t suited to working with children and suggests the elderly. Cheryl thinks that’s a great idea. Jason says at least they won’t have to use fake I.D.s (what the hell was he having his boys do?). Mr. Goodfellow tells them to give it their best shot. Cheryl thinks she’ll do well with old people, because she calls Grandma every Christmas.

So, naturally, Cheryl takes two old women named Madge and Clara to a Squashing Tomatoes concert. Cheryl gave Madge pumps, but they’re murder on her bunions. Clara thought they were going to a Sinatra concert.

This story is pretty fun. Sure, Cheryl and Jason went overboard and tried to mold the kids into younger versions of themselves, but, with the exception of the potential ski trip, I think Cheryl was generally a better big sibling than her brother.

Comics – Brotherly Love

Cheryl-Blossom-22
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)*
Pencils: Holly G!*
Inking: Rudy Lapick*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 22
Cover Date: May, 1999
Length: 6 pages

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

There’s a note on the first page of this story that says Cheryl’s fashions were designed by Ashley Nicole Findlay of Occee, TN; Justine Young of Honolulu, HI; Robin Hof of Mandimo, B.C., Canada; Mallory Tilley of Weatherford, TX; and Haley Navarro of Brimfield, Mass.

Cheryl finds Jason standing in front of the mirror in his bedroom and practicing asking Betty to go steady, which he then amends to going out on Friday night. Jason is a Kizz fan. Cheryl realizes Jason’s got it bad for Betty. Jason believes he sounds like a dork. Cheryl thinks this might be an opportunity in disguise for her.

Cheryl knocks on the wall just inside his room (the door’s open) and apologizes for bothering him. He’s irritated to see her. Cheryl sits next to him and gets him to open up by offering to help. Jason’s also a wrestling fan. Anyway, Betty’s always sweet and nice to him, but she never looks at him like she looks at Archie.

Cheryl suggests treating Betty’s “girlfriends” well. Jason immediately thinks this is brilliant, hugs Cheryl (who looks stunned and way uncomfortable), and calls her a genius. He goes off to Riverdale. Cheryl smiles and thinks the “first phase of the plan” (which she just thought up) has been started.

Later that day, Jason, wearing completely different clothes than he was when he left his room, drives by Betty and Veronica, who are walking along, and offers to give them a lift. Betty smiles and greets Jason. Veronica’s happy to see him, too. Betty explains they were just on their way to meet Archie at Pop’s. Jason takes the time to park his car and get out (I guess they’re in front of Betty’s house). He offers to treat them to a special treat at La Ice Creme. Veronica is surprised. They get in the car and start heading there between panels. Betty is stunned and asks if it’s the most expensive ice cream parlor in the U.S.A., which Jason happily confirms (is he driving them to New York City?). This short conversation took an unrealistically long time to occur, but this is a frequent problem in comics (at least Archies).

Back at Pop’s, Cheryl finds Archie alone at the counter, slurping a milkshake or soda float. Cheryl’s happy that her plan is working. Now for phase two: sitting next to Archie and trying to convince him of her heterosexuality while wearing a rainbow crop top underneath a cargo jacket with the sleeves rolled up. Archie mentions Betty and Veronica were supposed to meet him but never showed up. Cheryl doesn’t hide her pleasure.

Two weeks later, over a meal, Cheryl notes Jason’s happiness. Jason says he and the girls are having the best time. Oddly, he refers to Veronica as “her friend” instead of by name. Believing Betty’s starting to fall for him, he’s planned something special for tonight. Cheryl says that’s terrific. Jason thanks her and leaves. Cheryl decides to plan something special for Archie and herself.

That evening, Archie’s amazed that Cheryl got them front-row seats to a Go-Go Dolls concert. Cheryl calls herself a marvel. Archie spots Betty, Ronnie, and Jason. He tells the girls that he hasn’t seen them in a while. Betty happily says they’ve been out with Jason a lot lately. Veronica coldly notes Cheryl has been keeping Archie company. Suddenly, Veronica angrily realizes what’s been going on. Betty feels used by Jason. Veronica and Betty storm off from the “related rats” and leave the concert. Archie runs after them. Um, why leave a concert over something this petty? Cheryl calls out for Archie, and Jason calls out for Betty.

Back home, Jason forces Cheryl to practice apologizing to Betty in the mirror and taking full blame. It apparently works.

This story has a bad ending. Let’s walk through this. Cheryl has Jason show Betty and Veronica a good time, so she can have Archie all to herself (because apparently he has absolutely no other love interests and doesn’t chase after girls left and right or anything). Fair enough. Betty and Veronica abruptly cancel their date with Archie (without notifying him) over the promise of expensive, fancy-shmancy ice cream. They then stay completely out of contact with him for two full weeks and vice-versa (even though this issue came out during the school year). Jason and Cheryl treat their dates to a concert (ever so coincidentally, the exact same one). Veronica and Betty get self-righteously pissed at the Blossoms, and Jason forces Cheryl to take all of the blame. Remind me: who’s at fault?

Comics – Wild Things

Riverdale-3
Writer: James Dewille
Art: Joe Eisma
Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Letters: Janice Chiang
Original Publication: Riverdale, No. 3
Cover Date: July, 2017
On-Sale Date: June 7, 2017
Length: 10 pages

At Josie’s house, Josie and the Pussycats, along with Veronica, are rehearsing in the garage. Veronica’s playing a guitar in addition to Josie, so I’m guessing it’s a bass. After practice, Melody praises Veronica’s performance. Veronica says she sang in the Young Debutantes’ Choir in New York, but this was a lot more fun. Josie insults the “Spence School Spinsters”.

Josie exposits they’re headlining against their “archrivals” from the Southside tomorrow, a band called Venom. Veronica’s nervous but is heading straight home, drinking a cup of lemon tea with honey, and having “a good night’s beauty rest”. The others laugh at her. Josie makes her go out with them tonight for a “pre-gig tradition” (somehow convincing her between panels).

Soon, they’re speeding down the road in the “Pussycat Mobile” (Josie’s car). Veronica’s scared shitless.

They proceed to do crazy (for a small town) shit. They spray-paint graffiti at Venom’s “lair”. They swim in a closed public pool. They dance on top of tables at a diner. They get fake tattoos.

As they ride around again, Josie talks about protecting their “turf”. Bitch, you’re a band, not a gang. At a stoplight, Reggie shows up with an unnamed jock friend and challenges the girls to a drag race. Josie accepts.

Near Pop’s, Reggie nearly collides with what look like Archie and Jughead riding in an old-fashioned car (though not quite Archie’s classic jalopy). They aren’t identified as such, though. Reggie swerves to avoid a collision. The girls cheer.

Later, at the Whyte Wyrm, over what looks like a meal of fries with cheese, Veronica expresses her gratitude for the girls. Veronica, knowing some guys at Webster Hall, suggests a concert there. Uh, yeah, good luck with that, V. Josie unenthusiastically agrees. Venom, an all-girl punk band, enters the bar, pissed about the Pussycats’ graffiti. Josie and one of the Venom girls engage in trash talk.

Then there’s a huge rumble. The Pussycats beat the shit out of Venom. Veronica says they’ll see them at the show tomorrow. Josie offers her girls a ride home, and they tear off.

Later, on “Ol’ Lookout Point”, Josie and Veronica sit on the hood of Josie’s car and look out over the city. Veronica loves the view. Josie agrees. Veronica asks Josie why she’s still in Riverdale and not killing it in New York. Josie admits she’s terrified. Her dad’s been trying to make it there for two decades. He keeps putting her down. Veronica compares Josie favorably to Amal Clooney.

Josie admits her persona is all an act and doubts her ability to survive in NYC. Veronica gives Josie a pep talk, mentioning her own family situation. Josie is unsure and doesn’t seem to feel better but thanks Veronica. Veronica wants to drive the next time that they go “wilding”, but Josie doesn’t agree to that.

This was a pretty nice story. Not much more to say.

Comics – Summer’s End

Betty-and-Veronica-1.jpgWriter: Jamie Lee Rotante
Line Art: Sandra Lanz
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica, Vol. 4, No. 1
Cover Date: February, 2019
On-Sale Date: December 19, 2018
Length: 19 pages*

*I’m going by the pages on Kindle, which displays two-page spreads on the same screen (compressing them to make them difficult to read in the process). GCDB lists 20 pages for the actual printed comic book.

Let’s talk continuity. Betty & Veronica: Vixens has been described as AU and “alt-world” online (including by writer Jamie Lee Rotante). That didn’t stop Betty from sort of teasing this new miniseries at the end of the final issue.

Also, Archie recently resumed so-called “legacy numbering” with issue #699, which was a cheap recap issue that summarized the 32 issues so far of New Riverdale Archie – but, notably, not Jughead, Betty and Veronica (Vol. 3), Reggie and Me, The Archies, Betty & Veronica: Vixens, or the Big Moose one-shot. It kept those 32 issues of Archie in continuity (including the first two issues, which came out before the current iteration of the gang entered high school) but disregarded everything else. Archie #700 started a new story arc, definitely influenced by Riverdale, but it’s basically a family-friendly nod to it. It brought in Sabrina, who’s seemingly not the same version of the character that guest-starred in Jughead.

According to Rotante, this new Betty & Veronica miniseries (which wasn’t initially announced as a miniseries on July 9), in her mind, takes place later in the timeline of the Archie title. That would mean Archie currently occurs in junior year, so are we supposed to believe those previous 32 issues, in which Archie had a driver’s license, occurred in sophomore year?

Anyway, that’s where we’re at right now, so let’s get into the story:

Betty and Veronica are lying on a blanket outside, relaxing. Veronica can’t believe summer’s already over.

Apparently, Betty and Reggie had been dating during the previous school year but broke up near the end of it or at the beginning of summer vacation. But then Veronica made sure that the rest of Betty’s summer was awesome. They did things together, such as entering a race (that involved getting hit by paint), watching the Fourth of July fireworks, and going to (presumably) New York City. Obviously, this is completely at odds with how they spent their summer in Vixens. Betty is grateful to Veronica.

Apparently, without Veronica’s injection of awesomeness, Betty would have spent the summer fixing up her dad’s old car and babysitting. Betty is worried about Veronica talking about the breakup too loudly, and she can’t bring herself to tell Archie or Jughead (I hope this isn’t a Riverdale influence) that she was dating Reggie and that he dumped her. Veronica says boys just wouldn’t get it, and Betty needed a woman’s perspective. As they leave the park, Veronica admits Betty’s never been intimidated by her (and she likes that), and Betty admits Veronica doesn’t think she’s a doormat (and she likes that). Veronica says they need each other.

Back at Betty’s, Betty sits on the hood of a red sports car (I assume this is Veronica’s), and Veronica leans against it. Betty’s anxious about the approach of senior year and college prep. Veronica advises her to not worry about it. Betty wants to know which college that Veronica’s thinking of going to. Hermione wants Veronica to attend Hitchens U, the snooty private university in Massachusetts where she met Hiram. Betty says Massachusetts is “not too far”. Veronica doesn’t wanna go and asks about Betty. Betty would love to study abroad and see the world (specifically, she thinks of riding camels in the desert) but figures she can’t afford it without mounting up student debt. Betty and Veronica say they’ll miss each other.

Betty wants them to do a pinky swear and create a pact that they’ll attend the same college. Veronica is amused and skeptical but agrees – but also adds that they won’t let a boy (especially Archie) come between them. Betty agrees, and they declare they’re best friends forever.

At Riverdale High School, on the first day of senior year, Betty runs into Archie in the hall and asks what he’s doing. Over the summer, he worked with the school board to create packets to hand out to the seniors to make senior year less stressful. Betty is impressed and thanks Archie for the “super helpful” packet. Archie feels like he didn’t see Betty all summer and asks how she’s been. Betty is momentarily distracted by Reggie walking by but says she’s been pretty great and says she’ll see Archie in homeroom.

In homeroom, “Juggy” is the only other one there. Betty asks if he’s excited. He tells her to wake him when it’s lunch time. Ethel comes in, and Betty compliments her appearance. Ethel spent the entire summer helping Mayor Martinez (interesting that they seem to be keeping her consistent across continuities) on her re-election campaign. It was so inspiring, and she might even run for student council president. Citing her relative lack of experience, Betty nonetheless wants to be Ethel’s “#1 campaign manager”. Um, there’s only one campaign manager. Anyway, this statement directly contradicts Archie #700, which had Betty being involved in campaign activities over the summer in, of all places, Las Vegas. Midge comes in, obviously depressed, and takes a seat. Betty asks Ethel what’s up with her. Ethel says Midge and Moose broke up, and it was ugly. Moose might not even come back to school. Betty is surprised and asks why. Ethel doesn’t know.

Reggie comes into homeroom, and Betty has a flashback to Reggie yelling at her about pretending to be perfect but still screwing up sometimes. The bell rings. When Veronica arrives and sits to Betty’s right, the two friends wave at each other. Ms. Grundy welcomes them to senior year and starts talking about “prep work”.

Ms. Grundy name-drops Archie as the creator of the packets, getting him some attention from the girls. Betty finally looks at the packet and is overwhelmed by the numerous deadlines. Veronica asks her if she’s okay. Betty asks to be excused. Ms. Grundy grants it. Betty leaves the classroom.

Betty enters a restroom, grips a sink, and looks down into it. Veronica enters, wets her handkerchief, and wipes Betty’s forehead. Betty apologizes, not knowing what happened. Veronica says they all get a little overwhelmed sometimes. Betty asks if everyone was laughing at her. Veronica says no. As they leave the restroom, Betty thanks her.

Cheryl gets their attention. Veronica refers to her as “the Red Baroness“. Cheryl gets a bit sassy with Veronica and calls her “Kylie Kardash-ain’t“. Cheryl quickly gets to the point: she invites them to the Pickens U Welcome Back Party on Friday night but doesn’t want them to tell anyone that they’re with her. She says it’s gonna be “hella lit”. Since she spent her summer in SoCal, she translates it as “really neat”. She says bye and leaves. Betty wants to get back to class, but Veronica points out the huge favor that Cheryl might have just done them. Since Pickens U is local, Veronica suggests they could both go there. Betty asks why Veronica would want to go to a “pedestrian” school. Veronica says they have a great business program. Despite Betty’s reservations about attending a college party, Veronica convinces her to go, talk to some students, and scope the place out. It’ll be fun (which Betty could use) and might be the key to them staying together after high school.

Later that afternoon, Betty comes home, drops her key in the bowl on the table by the front door (next to some overdue bill notices), sees her parents making breakfast for dinner, and asks them if they liked Pickens U, because she might check it out for an “orientation” on Friday night. Alice says she’ll love it there. Hal says they give scholarships to family members of alumni. Alice says Betty will be a shoo-in, says they’re so proud of her, and kisses her on the cheek, seemingly making Betty happy.

Meanwhile, at Lodge Manor, Veronica’s brushing her hair at her vanity. Hermione enters the room and asks about her first day. Veronica says it was fine and boring. Hermione asks Veronica about Hitchens U, noting she missed the early application deadline but saying she and Hiram will work their alumni magic to get Veronica accepted even at the standard deadline. Veronica needs time and also mentions checking out Pickens. Hermione is surprised but tells Veronica to let them know when she’s made a decision. After Hermione leaves, Veronica takes a rejection letter from Hitchens out of her dresser drawer. Is she keeping this a secret, so her parents won’t have time to pull strings? Anyway, Veronica’s address number is 11252.

At Pickens U on Friday night, Betty and Veronica are walking hand-in-hand around the party. A guy comes by and offers to get “girl” a beer. Betty politely declines. Veronica says they’re watching their carb intake and tells “dear” to “fetch” Betty some non-alcoholic punch. After the “Neanderthal” leaves, Veronica tells Betty to grill him. Veronica’s gonna mingle with some of the business students and then meet Betty back here. Betty reluctantly agrees. Veronica leaves. Unknown to Betty, the guy spikes her punch. Betty starts drinking.

Veronica proves to know more about current tech than a business student, who turns out to be sexist, so she leaves. A guy in shadows tells Veronica to not let them get to her. Veronica tells him that she can take care of herself.

Later, Betty’s piss-ass drunk and wants to know what kind of fruits are in the “good” punch. How stupid does she have to be to not 1) taste the alcohol and 2) realize she’s drunk? As the guy gets close to Betty, she notices his flask, pushes him away, and leaves. She goes off by herself, drunk-texts Archie, and waits for him to pick her up.

Archie arrives and drives Betty home. She doesn’t feel well during the whole ride. Archie asks her if her parents will be upset. Betty says they think she’s at Veronica’s (despite her mentioning an “orientation” earlier) and should be asleep; she’ll be quiet. Archie walks her to her front door. She kisses him on the cheek. He says good night and tells her to text him when she’s upstairs, so he knows she’s okay.

Back at the party, the shadowy guy turns out to be Reggie. He came here out of boredom but is bored, anyway. He suggests ditching. Veronica needs to find Betty. Reggie saw her drive off with Archie, her “red-headed hero”. Reggie’s bitter, because he’s spent his whole life competing with him, but Betty and Archie belong together. Reggie gives Veronica a ride home. So…did Veronica just leave her car at Pickens? Or did Betty? Anyway, Veronica asks if that’s why Reggie and Betty broke up and realizes Reggie still cares about her.

As Veronica and Betty watch Reggie and Archie, respectively, from their front doors, they wonder what they’ll tell each other. Because, y’know, this is a violation of their pinky swear and therefore such a big deal.

A Halloween story is up next.

Before I get into the story, here’s the extras. After the story is a one-page cover gallery for this issue, an invitation for fan letters and art, an ad for Volume Two of Vixens, an ad for Book One of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (with a plug for the Netflix series), an ad for the collected editions of Mark Waid’s Archie run (specifically highlighting Volume 6), an ad for some classic Archie collections, and the cover for the next issue (the “falling leaves” cover) with a blurb that teases Riverdale’s Halloween party.

This is a good first issue. I admit I can’t relate to it much, though. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve been a senior, but I don’t recall much (if any) stress. I was going to the local community college, filled out the FAFSA, and basically got through two years of community college and two years of university while not paying much. I certainly didn’t accumulate any student debt. Of course, I didn’t have a BFF that I absolutely had to attend the same college with. Anyone that I really wanted to stay in touch with after high school generally stayed in the area.

Anyway, I look forward to the next issue.

Comics – Kiss of the Century

Cheryl-Blossom-28
Writer: Holly G! (Holly Golightly)*
Pencils: Holly G!*
Inking: John Lowe*
Lettering: Bill Yoshida*
Coloring: Barry Grossman*
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 28
Cover Date: January, 2000
Length: 6 pages

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

Cheryl is lying on her (crowded) bed. Sugar is lying there, too, wearing a Blossom pendant. A teen magazine, CDs, a remote, a date book, a stuffed kitten (with blossoms), and a stuffed teddy bear are also there. Cheryl calls up Archie. Her phone has cute, fuzzy, pink thing surrounding it, but what struck me is Cheryl has a rotary phone. In 1999. Anyway, Archie gets a boner when he realizes it’s Cheryl. Cheryl wonders what he’s doing for New Year’s Eve. Archie says Riverdale has a big party planned in the town square. The whole town will gather in front of the big clock and count down “the end of the millennium”. Yeah, that was a thing back then. People were too stupid to realize the new millennium didn’t actually begin until 2001. Hell, ABC News devoted round-the-clock coverage to celebrations worldwide as the New Year occurred in each time zone. And I taped all of it.

Anyway, as Sugar reaches to play with her, Cheryl says that “sounds so cool” and then asks which “lucky girl” will have his first kiss of the year 2000. Having an orgasm, Archie says she will. Cheryl’s delighted. After Archie hangs up, he nervously asks what he’s done. He promised a “Y2K kiss” to Betty, Veronica, and Cheryl. Wait, wait, wait. Hold on. Why the fuckity fuck do the Andrews have a framed picture of a clown in their house?

Moving on, Mary calls Archie into the kitchen for lunch. Oh, look: a Josie cameo in the form of an album cover. Cool. Anyway, as Archie eats lunch, he thinks the “first kiss of the 21st century” should go to the most important woman of the century. Mary made a “special dessert” for Archie: lemon cake. Archie thanks her and praises the cake. Archie suddenly knows what he should do and rushes off. Mary thinks Archie’s gotta take a piss or shit. Her hair seems longer in this panel.

Over the next however many days, Archie catches up with Reggie, Dilton, and Jason and tells them what Ronnie, Cheryl, and Betty, respectively, supposedly want them to do.

On December 31, 1999, at 11:59 PM, in Riverdale Town Square, seemingly the entire town has gathered. Did you know there’s a big clock tower next to Pop’s? Well, there is. In this one story, anyway.

Cheryl, Betty, and Veronica are trying to make their way through the crowd and find Archie. Cheryl had no idea that there were so many people in Riverdale. Shit, in my podunk, unincorporated town, according to the 2000 census, there were 2,294 people (or 12,458 people in the similarly-named adjacent unincorporated town; Wikipedia’s declaration of which town that I actually live in doesn’t seem to match the local, ground-level facts). My point is, this town had enough fucking people in it that, if it had a town square with a huge clock tower (and enough people that gave a shit), it could have had a huge crowd to welcome the year 2000. As it is, I’m guessing most people did local watch parties, got drunk, and celebrated with fireworks and/or gunfire.

Anyway, all three girls spot Archie with his parents at the exact same time and struggle to make their way to him as the countdown begins. They finally come up behind him, but then Betty is intercepted by Jason, and Veronica is intercepted by Reggie.

Cheryl closes her eyes, puckers up, and asks Archie if he’s ready for his kiss. However, at the stroke of midnight, Dilton rushes in, hugs Cheryl, wishes her a Happy New Year, and kisses her full on the lips.

As the confetti falls, and the three girls look on in surprise, Archie wishes his mom a Happy New Year and kisses her on the cheek. Mary wishes him a Happy New Year. The final blurb reads “Happy 2000, Everyone!!” The usual “End” note reads “End of 1999”. Cute.

This story is nice. Archie’s gonna be in deep shit with the girls, of course. But at least the girls got New Year’s smooches from some secondary love interests.

See you next year!