Comics – Snob Hill Sextette

Everything's-Archie-104
Writer: Frank Doyle*
Pencils: Dan DeCarlo Jr.*
Inks: Jim DeCarlo*
Colors: Barry Grossman*
Letters: Billy Yoshida*
Original Publication: Everything’s Archie, No. 104
Cover Date: December, 1982
Length: 6 pages

*I don’t have the original issue and am reviewing this story from the PEP Digital #45: The Best of Cheryl Blossom e-book. The story might originally be uncredited. The credits come from Grand Comics Database and may or may not be accurate.

Jason is driving his sports car and comes up alongside The Archies van. Jason and Cedric (his passenger) make fun of the band, irritating Archie (who’s driving the van) and Jughead. The van stops, and Archie and Jughead get out and unload their gear. Jughead insults Cedric’s appearance, irritating him.

Jason and Cedric make fun of The Archies’ musical abilities. Betty, unpacking her gear (her precious, stupid tambourine), is irritated and defends their capabilities. Jason and Cedric keep piling on. Betty gets Reggie’s guitar out of the van, raises it, and threatens to kick their asses. They get in Jason’s car and tear off.

Reggie takes issue with Betty threatening an ass-kicking using his guitar instead of Archie’s (never mind that Archie had already taken his guitar), and Betty has a good comeback as she hands it to him. Archie just now gets around to asking Reggie where tonight’s gig is at. Calling it his “big surprise”, Reggie promptly reveals it: Socrate’s Suds. Archie and Betty recognize it as a Pembrooke club. Archie freaks out. Betty’s worried when Reggie reveals he talked Cheryl into getting them this gig. Veronica’s concerned, too, and demands to know what Cheryl’s getting.

Cheryl shows up at that moment. She wants to be a guest performer with the “famous” Archies. Famous? Well, whatever. Sounds fair enough. Archie tries explaining they don’t have guest performers, but she says it’s a condition of them having the gig.

Questions: Where, exactly, are they in this scene, and why are they unloading their gear from the van if not to play the gig?

Later, outside the club, Jason is upset to see a sign advertising “The Archies with Cheryl Blossom”. Cedric says Cheryl can’t carry a tune.

Inside the club, the band’s getting ready to perform. Archie wants to do “Number 25”. Are all of their songs assigned numbers? And why? It seems more work than just calling them by their song titles. Anyway, Archie angrily tells Cheryl, who’s backstage, to listen for her cue. Cheryl comes out on stage, dressed in a skimpy outfit, and sings and dances, getting the audience of horny guys worked up. Apparently, she can’t sing worth shit, but they don’t care.

Oh, I actually know an alteration that was made to this story in reprints, thanks to a scan that I came across back in 2011. Originally, Cheryl’s outfit exposed some cleavage:

Snob-Hill-Sextette-original
This has been covered up with more fabric. While I hate when stories are censored (and it’s not like cleavage isn’t unseen in Archie Comics), I will admit the original artwork was pretty sloppy. Cheryl just seems to be missing her right breast entirely.

Jason comes in and demands Cheryl get off the stage, but she refuses, so he and Cedric pick her up and carry her off, berating her. Okay, that is seriously fucking disgusting. I hate it when females are manhandled. She seriously should have kicked their asses. And why’s the rest of the band not helping her?

The club’s manager arrives, seemingly upset, but he allows them to continue performing and even offers them another week, saying they were sounding great before they ran in “that tone deaf cover girl”. The band performs. The crowd loves them. Well, all except Cedric and Jason, who are still here – with no sign of Cheryl. Cedric is pissed about The Archies performing here. Jason says they should have let Cheryl continue singing, and the manager would have tossed them all out.

This story was okay, but I hate how Cheryl was treated at the end, regardless of her singing ability.

Comics – Stranded in Paradise!

Kevin-Keller-3
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Kevin Keller, No. 3
Cover Date: August, 2012
On-Sale Date: June 13, 2012
Length: 20 pages

Regarding the cover, Grand Comics Database claims the black guy is Chuck Clayton. I guess he decided to grow a beard. I have no idea who the dog belongs to.

At Riverdale High School, on the last day of school, the bell rings, and various students in the hallway celebrate, including Kevin, Veronica, Jughead, and Archie. Why are they already in the hallway as the bell’s ringing? Anyway, Ronnie’s all excited for Kevin’s first summer in Riverdale. Wait, what? Kevin was introduced in Veronica, No. 202, which came out on September 1, 2010, more than 21 months before this issue. They’re really trying to squish the timeline, aren’t they?

Anyway, as they leave school, Kevin informs Veronica that he got a job as a lifeguard (to save for college), so they’ll have to fit fun in between his work. Ronnie says at least he’ll be at the beach, and the rest of the gang will be there.

At the beach, Betty wonders about a crowd of girls and then realizes they’re checking out Kevin at the lifeguard station. Ronnie gets a funny line in.

Archie invites Kevin to join them for a game of volleyball, but Kevin’s on duty. Jughead deliberately hits Ronnie in the head with the volleyball. Kevin snickers and, despite Ronnie’s protest, does nothing about it.

Soon, near the end of Kevin’s lunch, he and Jughead are chowing down. Kevin mentally notes summer in Riverdale seems pretty peaceful.

Suddenly, someone out in the water seems to be drowning and calls for help. Kevin runs out to save her. It’s Cheryl, who wasn’t drowning at all. She’s “just having some fun with” Kevin. Kevin’s angry and lectures her. Y’know, considering Veronica once pulled this exact shit on Cheryl, Cheryl really should have known better.

It turns out that Cheryl’s job was to distract Kevin while a group of teens from Pembrooke caused trouble. I recognize Jason and Priscilla but no one else. Anyway, Cheryl wants to make out with Kevin. A homophobic asshole named Sloane tells Cheryl that Kevin’s gay. I’m not sure how she doesn’t already know. Anyway, Sloane insults Kevin (which the Pembrooke crowd enjoys), but Ronnie ain’t having that shit. Kevin has everyone shut up before the situation can escalate.

Kevin asks why they’re here and brings up Pembrooke’s private beach. Jason says it’s closed for the summer. Cheryl says they decided to “slum” with the “townies”, and, wow, that’s a callback. Some Pembrooke guys (including one named Charlie) and Ronnie start arguing. Cheryl points out that this is a public beach. Archie suggests some friendly competition – with the winners getting control of the beach. This sure sounds familiar. Charlie declines, but Jason tells him to shut up.

Jason wants to do the competition (note: he very clearly has blue eyes in this story). Ronnie asks about the competition. Kevin suggests surfing. Sloane boasts of his surfing ability, and Priscilla makes fun of him. Kevin says he’s decent. His old BFFs, Wendy and William, are here. Wendy says she’s good.

Wendy talks up Kevin’s surfing ability. Sloane makes fun of him. Wendy’s pissed, but Kevin says he’s not worth it. Kevin wants to discuss the rules of the surf-off. Wendy puts a lobster in Sloane’s shorts pocket. It bites him on the ass, and he curses in pain (it’s censored). Betty, Wendy, and Kevin enjoy it.

Sometime later, in…some building, Sloane starts talking shit – especially about Kevin. Cheryl angrily calls him out on his homophobia (she clearly has blue eyes in this story). Sloane doesn’t give a shit.

During the surf-off to determine Riverdale’s participant, Kevin and Wendy do good. Wendy even sits on Kevin’s shoulders as he surfs, impressing Betty and Veronica.

Later, Sloane explains to Sidney and Charlie (no, I have no idea who these guys are) that Kevin’s going to be their designated surfer. His plan is for Charlie to sneak into Kevin’s garage and sabotage his board. Charlie has created a special glue in his lab; it’s strong, but it completely falls apart when it hits water. According to Sloane, this means, when Kevin’s board hits the surf, it’ll all fall apart.

Sloane explains Charlie will “dissect” the board and then put it back together. Charlie worriedly asks if “someone” could get hurt. Sloane’s hoping for it. Charlie asks where everybody else is. Sloane says they’re “too wishy-washy” and keeps the plan between the three of them.

Soon, at Pop’s, Kevin checks the weather on his phone and tells Wendy that it’s supposed to be stormy on Saturday. He’s hesitant about having the surf-off. Wendy is dismissive of the storm, and Kevin goes along with it.

Sloane and Sidney arrive. Sloane addresses the “girls”. Wendy angrily threatens to kick his ass, but Kevin says he can fight his own battles.

On Saturday, at the beach, Kevin’s family arrives to watch. Kevin’s dad had been redesigned since his first appearance. The Riverdale and Pembrooke gangs arrive. Cheryl anticipates the beach being all theirs. Yeah, whatever, let’s get to it.

Three random nobodies have been designated judges, who will provide “Olympic style” scoring (this will never come into play). Sloane asks Charlie if he sabotaged the surfboard. Charlie says he did.

Kevin and Sloane both do okay, but Betty is concerned that the waves are choppier than they expected.

Sloane suggests Kevin quit. Kevin says he never quits and somehow takes Wendy along for the ride despite being out on the water solo. Sloane anticipates Kevin’s board breaking apart. Cheryl paddles out to him on her own surfboard and joins him on his (to his surprise), so Kevin and Wendy don’t outdo them. Sloane agrees to it. Wendy is having a great time. Sloane wonders why Kevin’s board is staying together.

Suddenly, Sloane’s board is wobbly. Despite this, Cheryl wants to get on his shoulders to imitate Wendy. Sloane calls her crazy and shoves her off the board, which pisses her off. A big wave approaches Kevin and Wendy.

They do good. Jughead asks where Sloane is. His board breaks apart into multiple pieces. Betty runs out of the way as he lands on the beach. He gets a face full of sand. Jughead, Dilton, and Charlie are amused. Charlie congratulates Kevin.

Yeah, Charlie wasn’t having Sloane’s shit, so he teamed up with Kevin against him, much to Sloane’s astonishment. Charlie calls Sloane a bigot and admits he’s gay. He’s tired of listening to Sloane’s gay bashing for years. Sloane is disgusted.

Sloane insults them, which pisses off Kevin’s dad, who yells at Sloane, who’s scared. Charlie explains he messed with Sloane’s surfboard instead and explained Sloane’s plan to Kevin. They figured Sloane deserved a dose of his own medicine. Cheryl is pissed upon learning of Sloane’s plan, saying it’s beneath even her. Wendy takes delight in their win, but Sloane calls Kevin a girl again.

Kevin’s had it and chases after Sloane to kick his ass. Sloane cries out for help, which amuses Cheryl. Sloane keeps running, even after Kevin stops chasing him. Kevin admits to Charlie that he wasn’t gonna hurt Sloane. They give each other five. Kevin wants to eat. Jughead picks up a burger. Kevin and Ronnie tell Charlie that they, his friends, are all here for him.

As the sun sets, they start to party. Betty calls for music. William asks where Wendy is. Kevin says she’s not one to leave a party.

It turns out that Sloane has run out to the stormy water (why?) and is now clinging to a buoy. Wendy has rowed out in a boat to watch in amusement and listen to loud music. Pretty stupid on both of their parts. Also, other than the choppy water, there’s absolutely no indication of a storm.

Between pages 10 and 11 are 2 pages of “Kevin’s Summer Style With B&V”.

Overall, this is a fun story, even if it’s not really anything new. Cheryl gets a bit of positive characterization, being portrayed as an LGBTQ+ ally and being unwilling to put someone’s life in danger.

One major problem is the cast of characters is too large and inconsistent, with most of them popping in and out to deliver a line or two (or just to acknowledge their existence). Also, there are a bunch of nameless extras that take away panel space from the established characters.

Incidentally, this is Cheryl’s sole appearance in Kevin’s solo series – aside from modeling superhero costumes alongside Kevin, Ronnie, and Betty way later – in issue #14. Apparently, she’s considered one of Kevin’s “friends” by that point.

Speaking of Cheryl, this appears to be the latest mention (that I can find) of Pembrooke in a classic Archie story. After this, Cheryl seems to hang out on Riverdale’s beach, attend Riverdale High’s dances, help to clean the school, and not mention or acknowledge Pembrooke at all. In fact, in the final major storyline in Betty and Veronica, Cheryl is explicitly a student at Riverdale High and even tries out to become a cheerleader. (If you wanna take the possible-future Life With Archie: The Married Life series into consideration, a school photo of the gang during senior year includes Cheryl.) So it seems, after this story, the decision was made to basically erase Pembrooke and quietly move Cheryl to Riverdale High.

Comics – Isn’t It Bromantic?

Veronica-202
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Veronica, No. 202
Cover Date: November, 2010
On-Sale DDC Date: September 1, 2010*
On-Sale Newsstand Date: September 14, 2010*
Length: 24 pages

*according to solicitations

So this is a milestone story in Archie Comics history: the introduction of Kevin Keller, the company’s first openly gay character. The company generated a lot of buzz over the announcement. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive.

Here’s the official solicitation:

ARCHIE COMICS INTRODUCES FIRST OPENLY GAY CHARACTER

New York, NY (April 22, 2010): Archie Comics, home of the famous Riverdale High students Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and Jughead, is about to welcome a new classmate this fall! On September 1st, Kevin Keller, Archie Comics’ first openly gay character, will be welcomed into the town of Riverdale.

“The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive. Archie’s hometown of Riverdale has always been a safe world for everyone. It just makes sense to have an openly gay character in Archie comic books,” stated Archie Comics Co- CEO, Jon Goldwater.

VERONICA #202 features the full-issue story, “Isn’t it Bromantic?” that introduces Kevin, Archie Comics’ first openly gay character. Kevin Keller is the new hunk in town and Veronica just has to have him. After Kevin defeats Jughead in a burger eating contest at Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe, she desperately latches onto him. Mayhem and hilarity ensue as Kevin desperately attempts to let Veronica down easy and her flirtations only become increasingly persistent.

In addition to the new ongoing achievements at Archie Comics–the #4 iPad book app and most downloaded comics on iTunes, the launch of Stan Lee Comics, Archie’s Red Circle superheroes at DC, and exciting new partnerships with Abrams, Dark Horse and IDW–the introduction of Kevin as an openly gay character is part of the commitment to keep Archie properties reflective of the current world of teens and teen media.

Kevin arrives in VERONICA #202‘s “Isn’t it Bromantic?” this September,
in comic shops 9/1/2010 and on newsstands 9/14/2010.

Kevin-Keller-promoHere’s the solicitation for the second printing:

SOLD-OUT KEVIN KELLER DEMANDS FIRST REPRINT IN ARCHIE HISTORY

New York, NY (Septermber 27, 2010): Archie Comics’ teen sensation Kevin Keller–the first gay character in Archie Comics’ line of books–has been welcomed enthusiastically by Versace, the New York Times, and fans from every corner of the world. To celebrate the SOLD-OUT first printing of Kevin Keller’s debut issue, Veronica #202, Archie Comics is going back to the press for a special limited edition variant cover print run of Veronica #202.

Already selling wildly back and forth on online auction sites like eBay, Kevin Keller’s debut issue has become highly coveted world-wide. The special limited edition variant cover print run of Veronica #202 will feature a remastered and recolored cover.

“We never thought Kevin Keller would become so hot so fast!” exclaimed Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater.
“It’s been a thrill to see how well people have welcomed Kevin into their lives,” continues Goldwater. “His introduction was always just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive. It just made sense at the time and we couldn’t be happier to have such widespread and enthusiastic support behind Kevin’s continued presence at Archie Comics!”

Kevin Keller’s full debut story “Isn’t it Bromantic?” will be re-released in the limited edition variant cover print run of VERONICA #202 featuring the full-issue story that introduces Kevin, Archie Comics’ first gay character.
Kevin’s limited edition variant cover issue of VERONICA #202 will be available through ArchieComics.com and in comic shops beginning October 6th and in limited quantities at the 2010 New York Comic Con taking place October 8-10.

Kevin’s next appearances will take place in VERONICA #204 & #205.

Veronica-202-2
I own the second printing of the issue. Despite that, I decided to buy the digital edition and review it that way.

Veronica walks by Pop’s (oblivious to the guy checking her out) and is curious over the laughter inside. Nancy comes out and pulls Ronnie inside to check out Jughead’s burger-eating contest. Ronnie asks why this interests her (Ronnie).

Jughead and a blond guy are siting at a table and chowing down. Chuck, Kumi, and Archie are cheering on Jughead, and Dilton and Betty are cheering on Kevin (the blond guy). Ronnie gets a lady-boner for Kevin. She mentions mustard on his face, even though there’s no evidence of any. Nancy explains his name is Kevin Keller, he just moved to town, and he’s the first person to challenge Jughead’s burger-eating record. Archie says Kevin’s eaten 18 burgers, and Jughead’s eaten 17. Oh, Ginger is also here.

Jughead reaches his 18th burger. Archie says they’ve both tied the all-time record. They both go for a 19th burger. Jughead concedes defeat. Kevin wins, setting a new record. Betty congratulates Kevin. Jughead sorta does but adds no one’s beaten his buffalo wing record. Kevin’s ready to challenge him.

But not today. Jughead agrees and lets out a loud burp. Ronnie hugs Kevin, congratulates him, introduces herself, and announces his winning prize: a date with her. Jughead and Ronnie exchange some insults. Ronnie exclaims “Fail!” Ronnie chats with Kevin. Ginger and Kumi have a laugh over Ronnie’s persistence. A small art error makes Kumi lose the little bow that she had at the bottom of her neckline earlier.

Over the next however many days, Ronnie pesters Kevin all over town. One day, at Pop’s, she invites him to go with her to the carnival in town, which pisses off Archie. Kevin tentatively agrees to go. Archie angrily wants to talk to Ronnie, and she angrily agrees.

Jughead brings over a stack of burgers and joins Kevin at the counter. He warns Kevin of the “royal pain”. Kevin says she’s not so bad and adds he’s just not interested in dating her. It’s nothing against her; he’s gay. Kevin guesses he should just be up-front. However, Jughead thinks otherwise, because he wants to have some fun seeing how long that it takes Ronnie to figure it out for herself; this will “teach her to make a fool of” him. Um, what? I’m guessing Jughead’s thinking of their little insult swap from earlier. Doesn’t exactly count as Ronnie making a “fool” of him. Kevin sees Betty, Archie, and Ronnie and asks Jughead about the deal with them.

Jughead quotes Bon Jovi as Ronnie, Betty, and Archie suddenly go from smiling to arguing. Kevin gets a text from someone named William and texts him back regarding this cool town and its stupid motherfuckers. Jughead insults Ronnie. Kevin decides to come out to her, because he doesn’t want to lead her on, but Jughead advises against it, saying Ronnie is “sensitive”. Kevin agrees. As he imagines Ronnie walking away from Kevin in tears, Jughead snickers (he laughs in the scene in his imagination), which isn’t suspicious at all.

As the story advances to another day, the caption reads “Over the next few days…”, which seems more appropriate for that little Ronnie-pestering-Kevin montage earlier. Anyway, Ronnie walks past Kevin’s house on her way to Pop’s on this “lovely day”. Ronnie sees Betty talking to someone in shadow, which doesn’t make sense, since they’re both out on the sidewalk. Anyway, the shadowy figure is immediately revealed as Kevin (so that was pointless). Ronnie is shocked, despite them being outside Kevin’s house. Ronnie loudly declares Betty to be a “predator”.

Neither Betty nor Kevin seem to hear her. Ronnie runs (in 4-inch heels) over to them. Kevin says she looks beautiful today, which makes Ronnie go all love-stupid. Kevin says he and Betty were just talking about the Honesdale Gazette, his hometown newspaper. Ronnie curses (it’s censored). Betty asks Ronnie if she knew Kevin’s had some articles published. Ronnie says the subject hasn’t come up.

Betty adds Kevin’s going to be an intern at the Riverdale Times. Just how many newspapers does Riverdale have? Betty says Kevin’s going for a scholarship in journalism. Ronnie didn’t know that either but mentions Kevin’s “baby blue eyes”, hair, and dimples.

Ronnie asks to talk to Betty privately and then begs her to not interfere, because she knows Kevin is the guy for her. In fact, he’s “the hottest guy ever to walk the Earth”.

Betty tells Ronnie to make up her mind regarding if she wants him or not. Huh? Ronnie has clearly stated she wants Kevin. Anyway, Betty puts an arm around Ronnie and says she doesn’t think Kevin’s the guy for either of them. What could have been a sweet coming-out moment is ruined, though, when Betty brings up her interest in Archie (who’s fucking winking in her thought bubble). Ronnie makes a deal with Betty: Ronnie will back off Archie, if Betty doesn’t interfere with Kevin. Betty agrees and leaves (without saying bye to Kevin).

Ronnie invites Kevin to Pop’s and then to see a movie. He accepts. She then asks him if he has a girlfriend. He says no and wants to come out to her. Jughead just happens to be walking by and quickly drags Kevin off to the comic shop to get the variant-cover edition of Bloodbath City #1. Kevin readily ditches Ronnie and goes off with Jughead. Okay, both of these guys are dicks. Ronnie decides to “kick it up a notch” in order to “land this guy”.

Y’know, one thing that absolutely has not aged well in this story in teenagers’ interest in comic books. Oh, teens obviously love movies based on comic books. And shows. And manga. And anime based on manga. But there’s no way that two teens would run down to the local comic shop to get a variant-cover edition of a monthly pamphlet. Honestly, I find it hard to believe teens would have done that even back in 2010.

At Pop’s, on another day, Betty and Kevin are sitting at the counter. Betty’s getting worried about Ronnie and suggests Kevin just tell her. Ronnie walks in, wearing a red dress and shoes. A guy checks her out. Jughead calls Kevin over to his table to check out a comic book. Betty compliments Ronnie’s look but also calls her “Miss Thing”, which is weird.

Ronnie says she wants Kevin to notice her. Betty says Ronnie needs to talk to him. Ronnie ignores her. Archie comes by and gets a massive boner for Ronnie. She shoves him aside and walks over to Kevin, who’s checking out Jughead’s comics, which include titles such as Super Cat and Tales of Blood. Actually, it turns out that these were Kevin’s old comics (he collects them), which he just gave to Jughead, despite the fact that Jughead had just called a comics-less Kevin over to his table to check out comics.

Ronnie asks Kevin about the carnival, but he’s hanging there with Jughead later. Ronnie’s pissed and storms off. Betty guesses Kevin didn’t tell her and decides to do so herself, because she doesn’t want Ronnie to make a fool of herself. Then we get a dumb fantasy sequence of Devil Betty and Angel Betty popping up and trying to influence her. Instead of this being about the ethics of outing someone, it’s about Betty saving Veronica from embarrassment versus having Archie all to herself. Sure, Betty does tell her angel that it’s up to Kevin to tell Ronnie, but her motivation is clear. Also, she throws in some dumb line about the “need to shake things up” instead of always listening to her angel. Her devil cheers her on, and Betty flicks her angel away.

Jughead brings over a bowl of buffalo wings. Kevin wants to compete. Jughead is hesitant (these are “three alarm fire wings”). Kevin orders wings for himself, even though an art error already gives Kevin his own bowl of wings. Kevin texts William about the contest.

Chuck starts the contest. 20 minutes and 113 wings later, Kevin concedes, his stomach hurting. Dilton declares Jughead wins by a wing. Ginger was also watching. A girl that looks a lot like Ronnie (but apparently isn’t) walks by with a pistachio sundae, so Kevin orders one. Jughead is astonished and guesses they were separated at birth. Jughead orders one, too, as well as pie.

At the carnival (which everyone changed clothes to attend), Kevin marvels at Jughead’s appetite and calls him a “great friend”. He mentions wanting to tell Ronnie, and that sets off Jughead’s “I wanna be an asshole a bit longer” alarm. He tries to dissuade Kevin. Ronnie shows up. Jughead’s pissed to see her.

Ronnie insults Jughead and pulls Kevin away to go on the Ferris wheel. Jughead tells Kevin to “remember the deal”. Jughead then decides, privately, Kevin should let Ronnie know, because keeping the secret is a hassle for Kevin, and Ronnie will give Jughead something else to laugh about.

The next day, Kevin observes Ethel chasing Jughead and wonders why he doesn’t just tell her that he’s not interested. Jughead runs to Kevin and begs his “buddy” to “save” him. Kevin takes Jughead to his house, right around the corner.

Inside, Jughead compliments Kevin’s bedroom, especially the art (Kevin has a large framed picture of a burger). Kevin’s room is big. He’s got a lava lamp on his computer desk. He also has bookshelves filled with plenty of books. Jughead meets Kevin’s parents and two sisters. Kevin’s mom and one sister have red hair, and his other sister has blonde hair (like him), but his dad seems to have brown hair. Anyway, Kevin’s sisters made cookies, and the younger one gives Jughead a plate of them for his walk home. Jughead seems happy to get the cookies but leaves Kevin’s house without them, suggesting he ate them all before he got out the door. Oh, and Ethel’s been waiting outside Kevin’s house, and she’s confused over…something.

On another day, Ronnie buys a big box of chocolates for Kevin from a chocolate maker. These are “the most expensive chocolates”. And they’re sold in Riverdale? Anyway, they’re filled with “all kinds of exotic fruit”. Ronnie feels Kevin is worth it and vows to give up, if this doesn’t win him over.

Once Kevin gets delivery of the chocolates (on the same day? if not, wouldn’t they have melted by now?), he decides to tell Veronica that he’s gay today. Oh, and Kevin hates fruit – especially when it ruins chocolate. I don’t care much for fruit in chocolate either, but I don’t outright hate it.

Later, at Pop’s (both Ronnie and Kevin are wearing different clothes in this scene), Ronnie vows to Betty that she’s giving up on Kevin, if he doesn’t respond to her today. Betty, setting aside having Archie all to herself, tells Ronnie that Kevin’s gay. Ronnie doesn’t believe her but then sees Kevin giving Jughead the box of chocolates outside Pop’s.

Ronnie falls to the floor in shock. Jughead and Kevin check in on her. Ronnie can deal with losing boys to Betty and Cheryl – but not to Jughead. Jughead exclaims “Fail!” to Ronnie. Y’know, this “Fail!” response is also outdated, and I seem to recall discussion about it being outdated even back when this story was published.

Kevin finds Ronnie “awesome” and wants to be “good friends” with her. Ronnie agrees. Kevin points out that they were both used by Jughead, and Jughead gets nervous. Ronnie and Kevin leave. Kevin wants to go to a mall, which Ronnie happily drives him to. Haha, the mall: another outdated element of this story. The retail apocalypse and the plague have definitely changed things. Actually, as I recall, I was making notes of the decline of my local mall nearly eight months before this issue came out.

Anyway, while riding in Ronnie’s car, Kevin texts William about “these characters” but adds he thinks he’s going to like it here.

Overall, this is a fun story and a good introduction to Kevin. However, there’s one major plothole: Kevin is openly gay, but Veronica apparently never once looked him up on social media.

Between pages 12 and 13 are 2 pages of Veronica’s fashions called “Veronica’s Smart Style!” Some of these outfits make me think Veronica’s mindset is something like “Okay, I’m gonna go out. Ugh, you mean I have to put on clothes in public? Okay, I’ll do the absolute bare minimum.” This isn’t a criticism, just an observation.

After the story is a 1-page “Meet Kevin Keller” text interview (with some Kevin artwork by Dan Parent). Archie Comics interviews Kevin. I’m not sure if Dan Parent wrote this interview or not. It’s not included in the digital edition, so I got out my physical copy to read it. It provides a bit more info on Kevin:

William is one of Kevin’s BFFs from his hometown.

Kevin’s other BFF is named Wendy.

Kevin’s been published in some magazines.

Kevin is now writing for the Blue and Gold at Riverdale High.

Kevin is old school; he likes blogging but prefers physical media.

Kevin hopes to write the great American novel.

The Veronica title would continue for another four issues as Veronica’s title, and then it would be turned into a stealth Kevin Keller miniseries for its final four issues before being cancelled at #210 (on sale on December 14, 2011; cover-dated February, 2012) after nearly 33 years.

Kevin Keller got his own ongoing series, which debuted on February 8 (cover-dated April), 2012, and ended after 15 issues on September 17 (cover-dated November), 2014.

Comics – #ABetterUniverse

Writers: Dan Parent with Bob Smith
Artists: Dan Parent with Bob Smith
Original Publication: It Gets Better Project
Posting Date: October 10, 2019*
Length: 5 newspaper strips (mostly 3 panels each, last one 2)

*National Coming Out Day is October 11, but at least one article dated October 10 linked to the site where you could read the strips online, making the actual release date somewhat ambiguous.

In 2019, in celebration of National Coming Out Day, Archie Comics teamed up with the It Gets Better Project to create a series of five newspaper-style comic strips (yes, there was a long-running Archie newspaper strip). These were written and drawn by Dan Parent (the creator of Kevin Keller and also the person that drew the final Archie newspaper strip for September 11, 2011) and Bob Smith.

Titled #ABetterUniverse, this loose “storyline” presents situations in which various Riverdale High School students come out to the main characters and are greeted with kindness and complete acceptance.

Strip #1

Betty finds her (ambiguously brown) friend, Claire, sitting on the steps (presumably of Riverdale High) and texting someone on her (awesome pink) phone. Claire has cute, short brown hair. Betty asks Claire who she’s been texting so much and assumes it’s her boyfriend. Claire corrects her: she’s been texting her girlfriend. As the two of them walk off together, Betty asks Claire when she’ll get to meet her. Claire says in due time.

Strip #2

Kevin greets his blond friend, Tommy, getting books out of a locker. Kevin is then corrected that Tommy is now Phoebe. Kevin is the first person that she’s told. Kevin is honored and thanks Phoebe for putting her trust in him.

Strip #3

In class, Veronica’s unnamed blond friend (with glasses) tells her that he has someone that he wants to ask to the dance. Ronnie assumes it’s a girl and asks who she is. Her friend says he is Brad from Math class. She offers him help accessorizing, so he makes a good impression on Brad. He thanks her.

Strip #4

Kevin’s ambiguously brown friend, Brian (who has a pink mohawk), comes to him in the hallway and lets him know their pronouns are now them/they/theirs. Kevin thanks Brian for telling him. Brian feels a bit awkward coming out. Kevin knows the feeling and thanks Brian for putting their trust in him. Kevin says it’s a bright new day and tells Brian that he’s proud of them.

Strip #5

This one’s a bit different. The file is named differently than the others, the dimensions are a bit different, and it’s only two (larger) panels. In 11th grade, Ronnie, Archie, and Jughead’s unnamed black friend introduces them to her boyfriend, Jeff (a white, blond guy). In 12th grade (this is a rare instance of the characters being explicitly stated to be high school seniors), she introduces them to her girlfriend, Sarah (a cute Asian girl in short shorts). This being classic-style Archie Comics, Sarah ends up looking like Tomoko or Kumi.

These strips are nice. It’s a bit concerning, though, that two of the characters don’t get names.

You can read the strips for yourself at the above link to It Gets Better. Click on each of the strips and then click View full size for some massively huge files, if you’re so bold.

Anyway, I just wanted to shine a spotlight on this series, since I somehow doubt these characters will show up in the regular Archie Comics digests. I could be pleasantly surprised, though.

Comics – It’s All an Act

Betty-and-Veronica-Comics-Digest-Magazine-181
Writer: Mike Pellowski
Pencils: Bob Bolling*
Inks: Jim Amash*
Colors: ?*
Letters: ?*
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine, No. 181
Cover Dates: March, 2008
Shipping Dates: January 16, 2008**
On-Sale DDC Dates: January 23, 2008**
On-Sale Newsstand Dates: February 5, 2008**
Length: 6 pages

*I’m posting an old review that I wrote in 2008, of a story in a digest that I no longer own. I didn’t make note of anyone other than the writer back then; the info comes from Grand Comics Database’s entry for the reprint in B&V Friends Double Digest Magazine, No. 231 (cover-dated March of 2013).

**according to solicitations

Veronica is trying out for the school play opposite Archie, but Mr. Morgan criticizes her lack of passion and emotion and tells her to express her rage. Mr. Morgan says her acting is non-existent. Veronica compares her acting style to that of TV stars. Mr. Morgan says she’ll get booed. Veronica says her father is “the richest man in Riverdale”; he’ll be in the audience, and no one would dare boo her in front of him. Mr. Morgan preaches some more about acting. Betty says he’s right and reminds Veronica that she took this class (Drama) to learn how to act. Veronica thinks she took this class, because Mr. Morgan is cute. Mr. Morgan encourages Veronica. Veronica and Archie try the scene again, but Veronica’s acting is just as non-existent as earlier, upsetting Mr. Morgan, who ends rehearsal for the day and leaves Archie, Reggie, Veronica, and Betty standing on the stage. Veronica is upset at Archie, but Archie reminds her that he’s not even in this class and only volunteered to help her with her scene (he doesn’t even have any lines). Betty tells Veronica to not blame Archie. Betty says Veronica has to work on this; her acting could be a lot better. Veronica believes her acting is perfect, and she’s a natural thespian.

On “Scene Night”, Betty and Reggie perform their scene and receive applause from the audience. Betty gets praise from Jughead, and Reggie gets a backhanded compliment from Jughead for his believability as a scoundrel (he doesn’t seem upset by it). Mr. Morgan says Veronica is next and asks if she’s ready. Veronica says Archie isn’t here. She called his cell, but he doesn’t answer. She can’t go on without him. Mr. Morgan says he’ll fill in for Archie and tells Veronica to break a leg. Veronica says she wants to break Archie’s neck.

Meanwhile, in the hallway, Archie runs toward the stage door. He had car trouble.

Betty stops Mr. Morgan from going on-stage when she sees Archie run on-stage. Veronica yells at Archie. Archie is nervous. Mr. Morgan loves Veronica’s performance, despite Betty pointing out that those aren’t the lines. Mr. Morgan declares, tonight, a star is born. Betty whispers to Reggie to not tell Mr. Morgan, but Veronica isn’t acting. Veronica’s rage frightens Archie.

This is a typical Veronica-is-dillusional story. She’s so full of herself in this story and learns absolutely nothing. She comes off as one-dimensional.

I do like Veronica’s description of TV stars’ acting, though. It often does sound like they (to quote Mr. Morgan regarding Veronica’s acting) “just spit out words at an audience like” they’re “reading lines off of a cue card”.

Judging by the sign in the auditorium, these are “try outs” for the school play. If Veronica is so bad, why does she have the part? The dialogue indicates she definitely will be performing on Scene Night.

Scene Night is a weird name for the annual performance of a school play.

Betty points out Veronica’s faults to her and tells her that she has to do better. Good for Betty.

I guess Reggie is so delighted by the applause (whether it’s directed at him, Betty, or both doesn’t seem to matter) that he doesn’t care about Jughead’s comment.

A seeming problem with this story is Archie said he isn’t in the class and only volunteered to help Veronica with her scene, yet he’s part of the cast on Scene Night. We could take Archie’s wording to mean he volunteered to stand opposite Veronica in her scene, even though he’s not in Drama class, and Mr. Morgan agreed to it. That works. It could have been made clearer, though.

Wow, Veronica has some pretty violent inclinations in this issue. If you recall, in the lead story, Veronica wanted to “deck” Archie. Here, Veronica wants to break Archie’s neck. I’m all for violence against Archie. More, please.

Does Mr. Morgan believe Veronica is acting in the final scene? If so, he’s pretty dumb.

Overall, this is a fun story, but Veronica comes off as a one-note character.

Comics – That’s News to Me

Betty-and-Veronica-Comics-Digest-Magazine-182
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent*
Inks: Jon D’Agnostino*
Colors: ?*
Letters: ?*
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine, No. 182
Cover Dates: May, 2008
Shipping Dates: February 27, 2008**
On-Sale DDC Dates: March 5, 2008**
On-Sale Newsstand Dates: March 18, 2008**
Length: 6 pages

*I’m posting an old review that I wrote in 2008, of a story in a digest that I no longer own. I didn’t make note of anyone other than the writer back then; the info comes from Grand Comics Database.

**according to solicitations

In this “b-side” story, the spotlight is on Tomoko Yoshida, a recurring Japanese character.

Betty sees Tomoko running on a sidewalk, greets her, and asks where she’s rushing off to. Tomoko says she’s covering a story for the newspaper. Betty says it’s summertime; there is no school paper. It turns out that Tomoko got a job for the Riverdale Gazette as a second-string reporter. Betty says it’s exciting. Tomoko says it’s okay but wishes she got some more exciting stories to cover. Tomoko says it’s a reporter’s job to cover all stories, big and small. Betty calls her “a true pro”.

At home, Akira is making fun of the “exciting” story that Tomoko is writing about on her computer: a cat stuck in a tree. Tomoko angrily tells him to back off, because she’s got a lot of work to do. Their mom comes by and expresses her pride in Tomoko. They hear a siren from a fire truck. Tomoko rushes to check it out.

An apartment building is on fire. Tomoko gets some pictures with her camera. Tomoko wants to get some more information, but she sees Melanie (their top reporter) and several other reporters from town already talking with a firefighter. Tomoko spots a crying woman sitting on a ledge and asks if she’s okay. The woman says she’s lived here for 60 years. Tomoko apologizes. The woman says her father helped build this building decades ago, and she raised her children here.

Soon, the woman’s daughter comes with her husband/boyfriend/brother/whomever and says she can stay with them. The woman says bye to Tomoko and thanks her for staying with her. Tomoko thanks the woman for sharing her story.

The next day, Archie walks into Pop’s and talks about the fire. Betty is sitting at the counter, reading about it in the newspaper. She tells Archie and asks if he read about the other fire story (written by Tomoko). She tells him and Veronica about it and says it’s very moving. Jughead, who’s also reading the story, cries and agrees. Veronica is amazed that even “that goon” is moved.

At the paper, the editor tells Tomoko that the news-magazine 59 Minutes read her story and is going to do a feature story on the woman. The newspaper will get a credit, and so will Tomoko. Tomoko is amazed that a national television show has picked up on this. He asks what inspired her to cover this angle of the story. Tomoko says the fire was being covered by everyone else. She says the lives in the building are the real story. The editor tells her to go with her gut and gives her the address where she has to go for a story that they need her for.

When Tomoko arrives there, she discovers it’s “another cat stuck in a tree story”. A man climbs a ladder and gets the cat down for a crying girl. Tomoko interviews the happy, smiling girl with an audio recorder to get her story. Standing a short distance behind them, Betty is amazed and says Tomoko is good.

This is a nice story. We get to see some of Tomoko’s home life, and it’s nice that she seems to have an actual career. That’s rare for a teenager in Riverdale.

Wow, it went from snow on the ground in “How’s Tricks?” to summertime in this story. Archie Comics usually releases stories to match up with actual seasons, but it seems this is an exception.

Where’s Ricky Mantle? Who’s this balding guy? Yes, it’s the same newspaper as shown in “Civil Chore“. To be fair, though, he’s never referred to as the editor, but I don’t know who else that he could be.

Why is Betty standing on that girl’s property? If she wanted to see what was going on (she must live nearby or have been passing by), then I hope she asked for permission to be there. Or maybe the cat ran away from home and climbed a tree in Betty’s yard?

Overall, this is a nice story. I like the message.

Comics – Love is Nasty

Okay, so here’s a major Cheryl storyline from early 2008. Each part of this story is preceded by an introductory page of artwork. I’m not counting these introductory pages toward the story’s page count. The titles on the introductory pages add an exclamation point to the title, but the story pages don’t.

Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent*
Inks: Al Milgrom (Part 1), Jon D’Agnostino (Parts 2 and 3)*
Colors: Adam Walmsley (Part 1), ? (Part 2), Barry Grossman (Part 3)*
Letters: Jack Morelli (Part 1), Jon D’Agnostino (Parts 2 and 3)*
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine, No. 180-182
Cover Dates: February, March, May, 2008
Shipping Dates: December 5, 2007; January 16, 2008; February 27, 2008**
On-Sale DDC Dates: December 12, 2007; January 23, 2008; March 5, 2008**
On-Sale Newsstand Dates: December 26, 2007; February 5, 2008; March 18, 2008**
Length: 18 pages (excluding introductory pages)

*I’m posting an old review that I wrote in 2008, of a story in a digest that I no longer own. I didn’t make note of anyone other than the writer back then; the info comes from Grand Comics Database.

**according to solicitations

Betty-and-Veronica-Comics-Digest-Magazine-180
Part 1

Introductory page (per GCDb): “There are credits listed at the bottom of the illustration, listing Fernando Ruiz as writer and penciler, and Jon D’Agostino as inker and letterer. Yet the illustration is signed by Dan Parent. And the credits on the subsequent story list Parent, Al Milgrom and Jack Morelli as the producers of the story.”): Betty, Archie, and Veronica stare in horror at two figures (Cheryl and Reggie), who we see only as shadows. Betty says “Those two together? Now that’s scary!!” A blurb in the upper-right corner says “The team-up you never thought you’d see!”. I don’t see the point in doing an introductory page for a story that we’re about to read (not that it even fits into the story), but whatever.

Reggie and Cheryl watch Archie walking with Betty and Veronica outside. Reggie asks if Cheryl’s still pining away over that “red-headed bozo”. Cheryl says she can’t help it; something about that “goon” just gets to her. Cheryl admits she’s pretty much given up on him because of Betty and Veronica. Reggie pretty much admits the same thing regarding Betty and Veronica because of Archie.

Reggie and Cheryl go to Pop’s and concoct a scheme: Reggie wants to take Betty and Veronica to the big Valentine dance next week and impress them with his hottest dance moves, so Cheryl decides to get Archie away from the dance in the hope that she can ignite the old spark between them. On Saturday morning (the day of the dance), Cheryl will send an e-mail to Archie stating the dance has been postponed, then she’ll quickly call him (so he doesn’t call Betty or Veronica) and ask him to spend the entire day with her (to prevent him from taking any calls). She’ll even misplace his new cell phone for a few hours. Reggie will then pick up Betty and Veronica and tell them that Archie decided to go out with Cheryl. They’ll be so mad that they’ll be happy to go to the dance with Reggie and will end up fighting over him by the end of the evening.

On Saturday, Reggie and Cheryl do as planned. Mary calls Penelope to make sure that Archie’s at Cheryl’s house, because she can’t get his cell phone. Mary finds out that Jason is at the (not cancelled) dance with his girlfriend. Cheryl overhears and realizes she forgot about her “lunkhead brother”. She guesses he snooped on her and Reggie’s scheme and hopes he keeps his mouth shut.

At the dance, Jason tells Betty and Veronica about what Cheryl did, which makes the girls realize Reggie’s involvement.

Soon, Jason arrives home with Betty and Veronica – and Reggie. Betty pulls on Archie’s arm and tells him to go to Pop’s. Veronica and Betty suggest Reggie and Cheryl stick together. Cheryl and Reggie like the idea. A blurb in the lower-right corner says “Cheryl & Reggie together?–Stay tuned!”

It’s nice to see a new story in which Cheryl has a leading role, but, before I comment on the story itself, I need to address the artwork. It’s unattractive. I’m not a fan of Dan Parent’s artwork in general, but he makes Cheryl look unsexy here, and that should never happen.

Cheryl wears an adorable yellow jacket and scarf outside, but, once she goes into Pop’s, she’s wearing a hideous pink dress. Blech.

Why are Reggie and Cheryl sitting in a (seemingly empty) teen hang-out with no food on their table? Does service (and business) suck so bad here, or are they just hanging around and taking up space without being paying customers?

How does Cheryl manage to convince Archie through an e-mail that the dance has been postponed (later referred to as cancelled)? Did she create some kind of RHS-looking e-mail account or something?

Of course, since Cheryl calls Archie right after sending the e-mail, she probably has to tell him that the dance is postponed and then tell him to check his e-mail for confirmation – and then hope he doesn’t get on the phone with Betty, Veronica, or anyone else from Riverdale High before she manages to pick him up.

Oh, and then she has to hope no one tries calling Archie on his cell phone until after they get to her house, where she can hide it under a couch pillow (set to vibrate, no doubt). Then she has to hope Archie doesn’t ask or look for his cell phone at any time.

Am I the only one that thinks this scheme doesn’t make any practical sense?

Yet it works. Go figure.

Why does Cheryl think Jason snooped on her and Reggie’s scheme? That came out of nowhere.

Besides the fact that nothing except the mention of his name seems to give Cheryl that suspicion, the only places where he could possibly have heard anything were Pop’s (was he hiding under a table?) or wherever Cheryl called Archie from, which was likely her bedroom. It doesn’t make sense.

It turns out that Jason does know about what Cheryl did. We still don’t know how, though.

Jason disappears after bringing Betty and Veronica to his house. Surely, he’d be disappointed that Betty and Veronica walked off with Archie – or did he join them at Pop’s?

Speaking of Pop’s, it’s pretty rude of Betty to pull on Archie’s arm and tell him to go there. What if he doesn’t want to go?

This story was my first look at Cheryl’s new house. For those of you that don’t know, Cheryl was no longer filthy rich at this point. She was merely well-off. This was due to the Blossom family losing money a while ago. Cheryl now lived in Riverdale proper instead of the exclusive Pembrooke community. We don’t see much of her house, but it seems to have at least two stories. I’d like to see more of it.

This is a pretty weak first part. It makes Cheryl seem like an idiot that doesn’t think things through and gets by on luck. I don’t appreciate that.

Betty-and-Veronica-Comics-Digest-Magazine-181
Part 2

Introductory page (drawn by Dan Parent): Reggie and Cheryl share a drink at a table while Veronica, Archie, and Betty stand in the background and watch them. Veronica and Betty are happy, but Archie isn’t. Veronica says “Finally! Now they’ll be out of our hair!” Archie says “Yeah, great!” Veronica and Betty each have a hand on one of Archie’s arms. A blurb in the upper-right corner says “Cheryl and Reggie…Is it true love?”

Cheryl and Reggie meet in a hallway at school. Cheryl mentions the Riverdale High Valentine’s Day Parade is coming up, and Reggie suggests they go together. Cheryl and Reggie decide to not waste time with Betty, Veronica, and Archie (who are watching) anymore and say bye to them. Reggie and Cheryl walk off together. Archie doesn’t like “those two” together, but Veronica is thrilled, hoping they’ll stay out of their hair.

Elsewhere, Ms. Haggly and Ms. Grundy discuss the improvement in Cheryl’s grades and attitude – as well as Cheryl dating Reggie. Ms. Grundy guesses this has a calming effect on Cheryl. They need a Valentine Queen for their parade float, and Ms. Grundy suggests they nominate Cheryl (she’s still new to Riverdale High; it might help improve her attitude even more).

Later, Midge points out the Valentine Queen nominations on the bulletin board: Betty, Nancy, and Cheryl. Veronica is upset that Cheryl has been nominated. Cheryl, who’s walking by with Reggie, says Veronica is just jealous that she’s so happy with Reggie. Veronica says Cheryl will be back to her nasty old self soon enough. Cheryl tells Reggie that they should leave “these bitter fools” alone and walks away with him. Archie sighs, which upsets Veronica, so Archie denies he sighed. Veronica guesses Archie is pining for Cheryl just because she’s with his rival. Archie nervously calls it silly, but Veronica says she’ll be watching.

Archie is walking with Cheryl. Veronica angrily comments they’re getting along. Betty guesses Cheryl’s just using Reggie to nab “our Archie”. Veronica says she wouldn’t put it past her. Reggie tells “Freckles” to beat it, because he’s walking Cheryl home. Betty says, if Cheryl’s using Reggie like that, Betty actually feels sorry for him. Archie waves sadly and says bye to Cheryl. Veronica calls him a sap.

When the Valentine Parade arrives, Ms. Grundy, standing on the float, is going to announce the Valentine Queen. Veronica prays for it not to be Cheryl. Cheryl is the Valentine Queen. Veronica angrily asks if anybody “up there” is listening to her. Cheryl, wearing a white heart tiara, makes a humble speech on the float. Veronica yells at her. Ms. Grundy says Cheryl has to pick her king. Betty says here’s where the truth comes out: if she picks Archie, they’ll know she was after Archie all along. Cheryl says her choice is easy. Veronica and Betty notice Reggie looks genuinely concerned. Veronica is disgusted by Archie’s hand-waving and cry of “Pick me!” and wants to deck him. Cheryl’s “obvious” choice is her “new sweetie”, Reggie. Reggie is delighted. Veronica angrily tells “Goober” (Archie) to not look so disappointed. As Cheryl and Reggie hug, Cheryl asks Reggie if he’s okay, noting he looks kind of teary-eyed. Reggie admits he was worried that Cheryl would pick Archie over him. Cheryl says those days are over and kisses Reggie on the lips, which worries Archie. A blurb in the lower-right corner asks “End?”

The artwork on Part 2 looks a bit more attractive than the artwork on Part 1, but I still say Dan Parent’s artwork isn’t as attractive as most other artists’. Compare the artwork in the story to the cover artwork by Jeff Shultz. The cover artwork is much prettier.

Also, something else that needs to be addressed is Cheryl’s eyes. Cheryl has green eyes on the introductory page. However, Cheryl has blue eyes in the story itself. Part 2 technically is completely uncredited (Part 1 has credits separate from those on its introductory page; Part 2 doesn’t), so I don’t know who did the coloring on Part 2. (Adam Walmsley did the coloring on Part 1, where he gave Cheryl black eyes.)

Meanwhile, Betty has black eyes instead of her “official” blue, but that’s beside the point.

Part 2 is, generally, better than Part 1, but I do have some problems with it.

The perspectives and positions of the characters are screwed up on page 1. Actually, that goes for every scene with the bulletin board.

Cheryl’s grades improve just because she’s dating Reggie? How does that work? Is it because she’s given up on trying to get Archie and has more time to study as a result?

Furthermore, I don’t recall reading anything prior to this about Cheryl having poor – or even mediocre – grades.

Betty is just suddenly there almost 2/3rds of the way through the third scene (in the hallway). That’s pretty sloppy.

In the same panel as Betty’s sudden appearance, Archie is shown walking with Cheryl – and Reggie is nowhere in sight. The thing is Archie was talking with Veronica in the previous panel (after Cheryl had left with Reggie), and there’s no indication of any kind of time passage. Who checked Dan Parent’s (a.k.a. the writer) artwork on this story?

I know it’s probably a hopeless dream that Archie Comics would keep things in line with 9-year-old continuity, but, if you remember, Betty and Cheryl became friends in 1999. That friendship was never officially ended. Keeping that in mind, other than thinking Cheryl is using Reggie, Betty is a lot more tolerant of Cheryl than Veronica is:

Betty (who was nominated) doesn’t yell when Cheryl is announced as the winner, whereas Veronica (who wasn’t nominated) does yell – multiple times.

Hell, Veronica doesn’t even seem upset that she wasn’t nominated – only that Cheryl was nominated. Veronica must really hate Cheryl.

Also, Veronica has an unhealthy jealous streak in this story (compared to Betty, who goes so far as to call Archie “our Archie”).

Veronica is delighted when Cheryl is occupied with Reggie, hoping it’ll keep Cheryl away from Archie. Betty doesn’t seem to care – except for the aforementioned concern that Cheryl might be using Reggie.

Veronica also blames Cheryl’s good fortune on God/Jesus/Mary/Aphrodite/Venus/Amaterasu/whomever. Shut up, Veronica.

Finally, there’s Archie. He keeps pining away after Cheryl and lies to Veronica about it. Why does she even want him? Why does Betty?

Um, yeah, like I said, Part 2 is better than Part 1. Not by much, but it is. I’ll stick around for Part 3 to see how it all ends.

Betty-and-Veronica-Comics-Digest-Magazine-182
Part 3 (a.k.a. How’s Tricks?)

Introductory page (drawn by Dan Parent): Reggie and Cheryl kiss and are caught on the screen at a stadium. Veronica and Betty are in the bleachers, watching. Veronica angrily says “I guess Cheryl and Reggie want everyone to know they’re a couple!” Betty seems surprised. A blurb in the upper-left corner says “The story continues…”. Is this how you get on the screen at a studium? You pay for it in advance, and someone points the camera at you for a moment? Why is Betty surprised? The crowd sitting in the bleachers across the field from Veronica and Betty looks real. Did they just insert footage of a crowd into the picture? I don’t know if Dan Parent actually wrote this gag. I’m just going by his signature. Keep in mind that the writers aren’t credited for cover gags, so this might be the case here, too.

Betty, Archie, and Veronica see Reggie and Cheryl together in a hallway and comment on them. Veronica sarcastically calls them “sweet”. Archie doesn’t know what Cheryl sees in Reggie. Veronica angrily asks if Archie is jealous. Archie nervously denies it. Betty says it’s “strange” that things have been so quiet since Cheryl and Reggie started dating. Veronica says it’s “like a strange lull is in the air”. Archie guesses it’s a ruse, so Reggie and Cheryl can play a prank on them, but Betty and Veronica dismiss that, saying Reggie and Cheryl look pretty serious. Archie opens his locker to get something for his next class, and books, papers, fruit, and a shoe fall out. Archie blames Reggie, who denies it. Reggie says Archie’s a slob, and it backfired on him. Archie considers it a possibility, but he says he’s got his eye on Reggie, which doesn’t scare Reggie at all.

Later, Betty has to hurry to cheerleading practice and grabs her outfit from her locker as she runs by.

At practice, the back of the gold underwear of Betty’s outfit rips while she’s doing a cheer. Someone (Nancy?) makes a joke about it. Betty covers the hole with her hands and excuses herself.

In the locker room, Betty examines the hole and suspects it’s been tampered with. Betty suspects Cheryl and guesses maybe Archie was right.

Veronica is walking to Betty’s house to ask her to come to the mall with her (Veronica hasn’t been there in two days). Suddenly, Veronica gets covered with snow. Veronica suspects Cheryl and then Reggie. She guesses Archie might have been on to something.

At school, Betty, Veronica, and Archie confront Cheryl and Reggie in a hallway. Veronica and Betty demand answers. Reggie and Cheryl each deny it, but Cheryl says she’d love to take credit. Betty guesses maybe her outfit was worn out more than she thought. Veronica guesses maybe the tree branches were weighed down with all of that snow. Reggie says goodbye to the “paranoid fools” as he and Cheryl leave. Betty says she feels silly. Archie suggests just forgetting about this.

Later, it’s time for biology class, but Archie’s locker door is stuck. When it opens, pudding spills out, covering Archie, Veronica, and Betty. Cheryl laughs and says pranks work best when one’s guard is down. Reggie laughs and agrees with his “honey”.

Okay, first of all, what’s up with the title? I thought this was supposed to be Part 3 of “Love is Nasty”. That title is only on the introductory page, not on the story itself. The story is called “How’s Tricks?”. What the fuck?

The title seems just as ambiguous as the “End?” at the end of Part 2. Maybe they used it as an excuse for the title change?

Nah, they just screwed up.

Anyway, if “How’s Tricks?” is some kind of joke, please let me know.

The artwork on this story is what I’ve come to expect from Dan Parent. Cheryl looks particularly ugly in panel 6 on page 2.

Cheryl’s eyes appear black here. Barry Grossman did the coloring this time.

Meanwhile, Betty has black eyes again.

Betty grabs her outfit as she runs past her locker. She’s shown neither opening nor closing her locker. Is she so trusting that she leaves it open all day?

And she grabs only the bottom part of her outfit, yet she’s shown wearing also the top part during practice. Did she keep the other part in a gym locker? Did she borrow an extra top? However she got it, it wasn’t on the hanger with the bottom part.

There’s no scene transition to Veronica being on her way to Betty’s house. That makes it kind of confusing.

Why is Veronica walking to the mall instead of driving a car or being driven in the limo? The ground is covered with snow, after all.

I guess Betty lives close enough to Veronica’s house that Veronica can walk there.

Does Veronica expect Betty to drive them to the mall? I see no other way that they can get there. That’s great. “Hi, Betty. Up for some shopping at the mall? Oh, yeah, and can you drive us there?” Some friend.

We never find out if Cheryl and Reggie were pulling all of those pranks or if the incidents were just bad luck. Based on the last panel, though, I’d guess just bad luck.

Betty and Veronica seem surprised but not angered by the prank. Then again, Archie was the one specifically (and completely understandably) targeted, not them, and Archie gets the worst of the pudding onslaught.

This story is okay, but, when we look at the storyline as a whole, Cheryl goes from being deceitful to being thankful and humble (which reminds me of the Cheryl that Betty is friends with) to being prankful. All in the course of a storyline. By the same writer. Can’t we have continuity of character in the same storyline?

Comics – Bath Wrath

Betty-and-Veronica-Comics-Digest-Magazine-180
Writer: Mike Pellowski
Pencils: Tim Kennedy*
Inks: Jim Amash*
Colors: Adam Walmsley*
Letters: Jack Morelli*
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine, No. 180
Cover Date: February, 2008
Shipping Date: December 5, 2007**
On-Sale DDC Date: December 12, 2007**
On-Sale Newsstand Date: December 26, 2007**
Length: 6 pages

*I’m posting an old review that I wrote in 2008, of a story in a digest that I no longer own. I didn’t make note of anyone other than the writer back then; the info comes from Grand Comics Database.

**according to solicitations

Alice comes into Betty’s bedroom and asks about all of the stuff on her floor. Betty picked up most of it on her way home from school today. It’s everything that she needs for a quiet, soothing soak in the tub: bubble bath, scented candles, a CD (Lovin’ Me Some 80’s) of her favorite songs, and “even” some new reading material. The reading material is magazines of teen gossip and hot Hollywood rumors. Alice says they aren’t exactly classic literature. Betty admits they aren’t food for the brain but says they are fun to read. Alice says she’ll take Betty’s word for that but asks why Betty’s doing this on Friday night. Betty puts on her robe and says, since she doesn’t have a date, she thought she’d just stay home and pamper herself. Alice says she hopes Betty enjoys her bath and that it does sound soothing.

Betty prepares everything. She dips her right foot in the water to test it and finds it to be still a bit hot.

Betty runs downstairs to fetch the plate of snacks that she prepared and left in the fridge. Betty’s cell phone rings. Betty takes it out of her robe and checks it. It’s Archie, who Betty says was going to a pro hockey game tonight. Betty answers. Archie says Reggie is sick, so they have an extra ticket. He asks if Betty would like to join them. Betty, who loves hockey, agrees to go with Archie, Chuck, and Jughead. Archie says he’ll pick her up in ten minutes. Betty is startled and asks Alice if she can use her bathroom to take a quick shower. Alice agrees and then asks about Betty’s soothing soak. Betty remembers that and says, if she takes the time to pick everything up, she won’t be ready when Archie arrives. She starts to ask Alice something. Alice agrees to clean up Betty’s bathroom, and Betty can owe her a favor. Betty thanks her mom and runs off to get ready.

Ten minutes later, the boys arrive to pick Betty up. Alice says to have fun at the game. Betty thanks her and says they will.

When Alice goes upstairs, holding a towel, she looks in Betty’s bathroom and thinks it’s a shame to let all of this go to waste. She decides, since Hal’s away on a business trip and she has the entire house all to herself, to take the bath herself.

Later, Alice is soaking in Betty’s bathtub, the scented candles lit, the cookies and soda within reach, the CD playing on the boombox, and a magazine in her hands. Alice finds the experience soothing. She finds Betty’s music to be good, but she thinks Betty’s reading selections need improvement.

This is a fun, relaxing story. I like these kinds of stories that explore Betty’s home life – particularly her relationship with her parents.

Betty earns major cool points for loving 1980s music – and promptly loses them for liking tabloid trash.

There’s some confusion on page 2. After an exterior shot of the Coopers’ snow-covered house, Betty is shown putting on her robe, and then she’s shown reaching to fill her bathtub with water. What confuses me is the vanity has changed. It now has lights on the mirror frame, a picture of Archie taped to the mirror, and different bottles on the table. Is Betty supposed to be putting on her robe in her bedroom or her bathroom?

Betty puts her sock back on her (wet?) foot before going downstairs. What’s the point?

For that matter, what’s with the robe? Betty wasn’t wearing it when she was organizing her stuff in her bedroom. Why does she put it on (over her clothes) to get her bathroom ready?

Is it cold for Betty? There’s a reprinted story in this digest where Hal keeps the heat down (and his daughter cold) to keep the heating bill lower (so Betty takes a nice warm bath). With Hal away on a business trip, Betty could have turned the heat up.

Why does Betty have her cell phone in her robe’s pocket?

The oddness of that aside, why does Betty run with her cell phone in her robe’s pocket? It could easily fall out.

I like Alice and Betty’s playful Princess Betty / Queen Mother banter when Betty goes downstairs.

Is Betty so desperate to date Archie that she’ll scrap her plans on short notice and go out with him even when he, knowing she loves hockey, decides to go to a pro hockey game with his buddies instead of her and invites her only because he has Reggie’s unused ticket? That’s the one part of this story that really irritates me.

Why does Betty ask if she can use Alice’s bathroom, if Alice doesn’t remind Betty of her bath until a moment later? It would have made more sense if Betty decided to shower in her own bathroom, and then Alice reminded her of her bath.

Why does Betty try to ask her mom to clean up her stuff? She should clean it up herself. She’s going to a hockey game. I doubt anyone there will notice she hasn’t showered.

What’s the gold thing that Alice is holding when the boys pick Betty up?

Whatever it is, it seems to turn into a pink towel once Alice goes upstairs. Why is she holding this?

The cookies are in the bathroom when Alice arrives, even though Betty had gone downstairs to get the plate out of the fridge right before Archie called. Her plans changed, I doubt Betty would have taken the plate upstairs.

It seems the vanity with the lights is in Betty’s bathroom. Okay. At least that was cleared up.

Since Hal and Betty aren’t home, Alice has the entire house all to herself? Is this one of those Polly-doesn’t-live-here or Polly-doesn’t-exist stories?

Where does the can of soda (seemingly 7-Up) come from? Did Alice go downstairs to get it, or was it obscured by the stereo in the earlier panel?

Alice likes 1980s music, too. Cool. I guess she might be at the right age to have grown up with it (at least at the time that this story was written).

I like Alice’s views of Betty’s reading material. Of course, considering she’s reading about Paris and “Lindsey” (it’s Lindsay, Mike), it naturally sucks.

Overall, this is a nice, cozy story, even if it does have some bad points.

Comics – Wedded Blitz

Betty's-Diary-28
Writer: Kathleen Webb
Pencils: Stan Goldberg*
Inks: Rod Ollerenshaw*
Colors: Barry Grossman*
Letters: Bill Yoshida*
Original Publication: Betty’s Diary, No. 28
Cover Date: September, 1989
Length: 5 pages

*I’m posting an old review that I wrote in 2007, of a story reprinted in a digest that I no longer own. I didn’t make note of anyone other than the writer back then; the info comes from Grand Comics Database.

As noted above, this story was written as part of an old review (I used to write reviews for Archie Comics Fan Forum years before starting this blog). In fact, it was the next-to-last story printed in Betty and Veronica Double Digest, No. 150. I do have (or at least had) the Betty’s Diary issue, but I’m not sure where at the moment, so I can’t tell if anything was altered for the reprint, although, considering it’s Kathleen Webb, there probably wasn’t anything that anyone would find even remotely objectionable.

Betty is writing in her diary about going to her cousin Marie’s wedding today. She had wished it was Archie and her up there instead.

Betty writes about everybody making such a fuss over you at showers and parties, lots of lovely presents, and the new diamond ring that you get to flash around.

Archie interrupts Betty’s daydream. They’re at Pop’s. Archie asks about Betty’s dress. Betty explains and adds she caught the bouquet. Archie asks when Betty’s getting married. Betty tries to get Archie to ask her now as a long-term engagement until after she graduates from college, but Archie is happy only that Betty is considering higher education. Archie adds he’s definitely going to college.

As Archie and Betty dance to “The Loco-Motion” on the jukebox, Betty keeps prodding him about his plans after college. Archie says he’ll get a job to support his family, but he says there’s still lots of time for him to decide who he’ll marry. Betty teases him that the girl that he dreams of marrying might have met somebody else by then and suggests he get his bid in for her now, before it’s too late, just to be sure.

When Veronica walks into Pop’s, Archie asks Veronica to go steady, and Veronica agrees. Betty furiously tells Archie that she wouldn’t marry him if he was the last man on Earth – not even if he asks her. Betty then dumps a bowl of pistachio ice cream on Archie’s head and storms out of Pop’s. Archie blames Betty for not making herself clear in the first place.

I know this is a Betty’s Diary story, but it makes Betty seem rather shallow. Her private thoughts reveal she cares about attention, presents, and a diamond ring.

Also, I’m confused about something. I get that Betty’s flashing back to her thoughts during her cousin’s wedding while she’s sitting in Pop’s, but it doesn’t show her actually writing in her diary at Pop’s.

Finally, this story ends the love triangle – again.

Comics – When Jughead Meets Jughead

Jughead's-Double-Digest-138
Writer: Fernando Ruiz
Pencils: Jeff Schultz*
Inks: Rich Koslowski*
Colors: Barry Grossman*
Letters: Jack Morelli*
Original Publication: Jughead’s Double Digest, No. 138
Cover Date: May, 2008
Shipping Date: February 27, 2008**
On-Sale DDC Date: March 5, 2008**
On-Sale Newsstand Date: March 18, 2008**
Length: 12 pages

*I’m posting an old review that I wrote in 2008, of a story in a digest that I no longer own. I didn’t make note of anyone other than the writer back then; the info comes from Grand Comics Database. However, it should be noted, according to the solicitation, Fernando Ruiz was credited for both script and art.

**according to solicitations

As before, this new story is the last in a digest that reprints a classic early issue – in this case, Jughead, No. 1 (1949). Let’s get into it.

One day in 2008, Jughead is walking Hot Dog in the park while playing a video game and listening to music on his MP3 player. He also has a cell phone. Two old men, sitting on a bench, comment negatively on Jughead’s gadgets. Jughead, distracted by his video game, accidentally lets go of Hot Dog’s leash. Hot Dog runs away. Jughead chases after him, calling him.

Jughead runs down Memory Lane and finds himself in the 1940s. He comments on the old cars and the “old school clothes”. He thinks they’re filming a period movie. Jughead hears Hot Dog and finds him with old Jughead. Old Jughead hopes for a dog just like Hot Dog, if he ever gets a dog. Jughead and old Jughead meet. They’re both surprised. Jughead recalls when Archie told him about his own trip down Memory Lane and thinks of going back up the street. Old Jughead asks Jughead about his “doohickeys”. Jughead shows off his video game on his “Game Kid“. Old Jughead is surprised at Jughead’s time commitment to the game and isn’t interested. Old Jughead walks away. Jughead chases after him and asked what he does for fun. Old Jughead shows him: they race soap box racers, play stickball, and roll barrel hoops. Jughead comments that that’s as low tech as it gets. Jughead thinks the games are all very simple but fun.

After a quick walk around town, both Jugheads go to the theater. Old Jughead is surprised that Jughead thinks a movie ticket costs ten bucks, and Jughead is surprised that it really costs only a quarter.

Three hours later, they exit the theater, and Jughead is amazed that they saw two whole films, a bunch of cartoons, and a serial. Old Jughead suggests grabbing some “chow” at Pop’s – if Jughead has a nickel for a burger. Jughead faints.

When he wakes up, old Jughead asks if he’s okay. Jughead says he was dreaming of five-cent burgers.

After a quick bite, Jughead mentions his love of everything about the 1940s: the food, jazz and swing music, and the “snazzy retro fashions”. Even his hat is in style here. Jughead decides to stay in the 1940s. Old Jughead approves of Jughead’s decision, saying he’ll “never have to waste four hours pushing buttons again”. Old Jughead suggests celebrating with penny candy and licorice whips. Jughead is excited but then sees a sign that says “You’re Really Keen With a Jellybean!”.

Jughead, Hot Dog, and old Jughead go to Memory Lane. Jughead says good-bye. Old Jughead makes Jughead promise that the Martians haven’t invaded the Earth in the future.

Back in the present, Jughead goes for a run on a sidewalk with Hot Dog while carrying Jellybean and rolling a barrel hoop. He comments that the 1940s didn’t have everything after all: no mom, no dad, and no Jellybean; in the present, Jughead has all of them and can still roll barrel hoops. That surprises an old man that sees him.

Did we really need another Memory Lane story? This story is even lamer than the previous one.

The anti-video game slant is annoying. Video games are a perfectly valid form of entertainment and can be just as fun – if not moreso – than soap box racing, stickball, and rolling barrel hoops.

Hot Dog disappears after the games and doesn’t re-appear until Jughead is ready to go back to the present. That’s pretty sloppy. Did Jughead just abandon him for a while?

Jughead is very ignorant of inflation and doesn’t realize prices were lower six decades ago.

Despite what the front cover would have you believe, old Archie doesn’t appear in this story (except in a flashback).

Finally, Jughead makes the decision to stay in the 1940s to have fun, completely forgetting his family – not to mention his friends. It takes an ad for jellybeans to remind him of his own sister. Up until then, he was prepared to give them up without a thought. He didn’t care for them and didn’t think of how his being gone would affect them. What a jerk.