Comics – Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 1

Writer: Jamie Lee Rotante
Art: Eva Cabrera
Colors: Elaina Unger
Letters: Rachel Deering
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 1
Cover Date: January, 2018
On-Sale Date: November 22, 2017
Length: 19 pages

So I was all ready to review another story for this week when this arrived in my inbox:

Riverdale-Gazette.jpgA new B&V series in which they lead a biker gang? Okay, I was intrigued.

At first, I thought it was an AU series. Then I thought it was New Riverdale. Then I went back to AU, because I noticed an old car in Betty’s garage and the fact that Betty and Veronica often wear skirts and outdated hairstyles, so I figured it was set in the 1950s. But they also sometimes wear pants, other girls wear pants, Betty and Veronica casually curse and show off some cleavage in public, and the school is integrated. Also, the cover for issue #2 has Betty taking a selfie with Veronica, and that newspaper article has a November 2017 date. So I’m learning toward this being a New Riverdale title – but with a hell of a lot of retro in it.

Before I get into the story, I wanna address the art style. I don’t care for it. It’s kind of odd. It’s not bad; it just feels weird to me. I guess it fits with the tone that they’re going for.

Also, kudos for the all-female team. It’s a welcome change after Adam Hughes torpedoed the last B&V title after three issues.

Amazon says this book is 24 pages long, but there are only 19 pages of actual story.

It starts with Veronica, Betty, and their gang riding down a dirt road. They come to an RV and ride circles around it in an attempt to intimidate the Southside Serpent gang members inside it. As they ride off, Veronica and Betty do a fist bump.

Betty asks Veronica if she thinks that will scare them off. Veronica’s like “Fuck no, this was just a warning.” Betty brings up the possibility of retaliation. Veronica says then they fight back.

They come to a stop. Betty passes out her “toys” to her fellow gang members: brass knuckles. She has a pair for each of them. Someone (possibly Midge) asks what they’re for. Betty says protection. Oh, yeah, the Vixens wear black masks over their mouths and noses, so they look kind of like Bane.

Anyway, a guy invites the babes to come into his car. Betty and Veronica tell him to fuck off. He doesn’t find that acceptable and wants to kick Betty’s ass. Veronica brings him to his knees, and Betty says they’re gonna kick his ass.

We then get a flashback to three weeks earlier to see how this all started. A spring fling dance is coming up, which is an odd choice for an issue released in November. An intercom announcement reminds the students to buy their tickets for the dance this Friday. Is the dance on Friday, or is that when the tickets go on sale? Confusing matters, Veronica asks Betty if she has any fun plans this weekend. Betty says she’s just going to stay home and study, which is usual for her. Besides, Archie’s grounded again this weekend. Reggie arrives to scoop one of them up. Betty declines. Veronica accepts Reggie’s earlier offer to go cruising with him by Dead Man’s Curve tomorrow night. Betty is surprised and worried. She asks Veronica what her dad will say. Veronica plans to say she’s being tutored at Betty’s, but Betty refuses to be her cover. Betty brings up the danger, because the Serpents hang out there. Reggie says the Southside Serpents are a myth told by old folks to scare the teens. He also says the Battlin’ Boys can handle them. That’s the “gang” that he and Archie created, because gangs “are all the rage right now”. Reggie and Archie are going cruising on their bikes tomorrow night. Archie’s been using being “grounded” as a cover, so Betty wouldn’t find out. Reggie mentions a place called Logger’s Pond where he and Archie rode, but it doesn’t come up again. Reggie leaves. Betty asks Veronica when she’s leaving. Veronica says 9:00. Betty says she’ll meet her at Pop’s at 8:00.

On Saturday night, at 8:00 PM, at Pop’s, Betty’s having a milkshake and sharing fries with Veronica. So, yeah, the previous school scene was set on Friday, so what the hell was up with that intercom announcement?

Anyway, Veronica compliments Betty’s look but asks Betty if she’s sure about this. Betty is, saying she can afford to drop her GPA. Betty asks what cruising’s like. Veronica is very positive about it. Betty says she’s always wanted to ride a motorcycle. Veronica wants to, too. Betty can’t imagine it. Veronica says she enjoys “the thrills of the commoners”. Betty says maybe, if she rides, she’d actually get invited to do fun stuff, not just be asked to tutor people in math. Veronica says Betty might kill herself trying to ride one. Betty says her parents would kill her first. Using Veronica logic, Veronica suggests she go for it.

Archie and Reggie arrive. Archie’s surprised to see Betty and apologizes for lying. Betty says it’s fine. Archie upsets her by saying riding isn’t her “style”. There’s a cute visual gag where Veronica and Reggie reach for fries at the same time. Reggie is victorious. He suggests they split before it gets too late.

Outside, Reggie’s got a decent motorcycle, but Archie made his himself out of spare parts that he found at Pickens’ Junk Yard. Reggie says it’s a piece of shit. Archie disputes that. Veronica gets on Reggie’s bike, and Reggie tears off, pissing off Archie. Betty looks at Archie’s bike and says this isn’t safe. He gets on, and so does she. She mentions possible trouble. Archie promises they won’t pick fights with anybody. She questions the integrity of his bike, and he asks her to help him fix it. She agrees.

After they ride for a while, Betty asks to go faster, because Jellybean passed them on her fucking tricycle. What’s Jellybean doing out on the road at night? Anyway, Archie hits the gas, and Betty enjoys herself.

Archie brings the bike to a stop at a place called Spotty’s. He doesn’t feel well. Betty notes his front wheel needs to be screwed back on. The shit in Archie’s bag is useless, so she tells him to go inside and ask, and she can take care of it for him.

As luck would have it, Spotty’s is the Southside Serpents’ home base. A woman named Penny is chatting with her boyfriend, Fangs. These are Penny Peabody and Fangs Fogarty, the Little Archie versions of Midge and Moose. Fangs was also used in “The New Archies“:

Anyway, Archie comes in, sees a “South Side Serpents” [sic] banner, and runs the fuck out.

He gets on his bike. So does Betty. He crashes into the Serpents’ parked bikes, knocking them over, and then tears off. Some Serpents come out. Fangs finds a flyer for the spring fling dance (Friday night at 7:00) and declares war. (Why was Archie or Betty carrying flyers for the dance during a night of cruising?) He says they’re going to Riverdale. Penny is excited, but they leave her behind, because she’s a woman. She’s pissed at them. A Serpent throws a knife at the “Welcome to Riverdale” sign. So, wait, the Southside isn’t within Riverdale?

On Monday morning, there’s a lot of damage around town (what about Sunday?). At Riverdale High, Mr. Weatherbee speaks to the students in the auditorium. Basically, he has no proof, but he will expel any students that he finds “engaging in gang-like activities”.

After, Betty tells Archie that he shouldn’t have driven off like that. Archie asks if he should have let the Serpents kick his ass. Reminding him that he’s in a “gang”, Betty suggests he fight back. Archie hesitates and then admits he can’t. That’s what Betty thought.

Later, in Betty’s garage, Betty brings up Saturday night. Veronica thinks Betty and Archie fucked. Betty thinks Archie pissed off the Serpents, and now they’re coming back for revenge. She basically admits Archie’s fucking useless in this situation. Veronica admits the same about Reggie. Betty wants to do something about the Serpents, and Veronica approves.

Betty tries to describe the feeling of being on Archie’s bike. Veronica suggests orgasmic. Betty blushes and substitutes breathtaking. Betty says trying to do some good and help out in this town has gotten her stood up every weekend. She wants to help out but also get some thrill out of it. Veronica wants in on Betty’s “weird adventure club”. Betty unveils Suzie, a motorcycle that Betty has been working on for the past two years. Veronica is in awe.

Meanwhile, at the Serpents’ meeting spot (the RV), Fangs wants to hit Riverdale with more shit. Penny is eager to get in there with the girls and start shit, but Fangs cuts her out of the “man’s job”.

Back in Betty’s garage, Betty explains her grandpa left the bike to her dad in his will, and it’s never been touched. She’s be grounded for life if her parents found out that she’s been working on it. So…the bike has been touched. Betty wants to ride and thinks she can get the hang of it. After learning Veronica already knows how, Betty suggests they take on the Serpents. Veronica laughs at the thought of the two of them kicking the asses of a dangerous biker gang. Deciding they need strength in numbers, Veronica wants to recruit girls.

This was a pretty fun story! As I said, the artwork and ambiguity of the time period are a bit odd, but this is a good start to an ongoing series. The story is followed by a mini cover gallery, the fake newspaper article that I posted above, and the “selfie” cover of issue #2.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Camp Out Clout

This scene doesn’t occur in the story (this seems to be a sleepover at Cheryl’s, but the actual story involves a camping trip), though all of the same characters are involved. I initially thought the Asian girl was Tomoko Yoshida, a longtime Japanese character. As it turns out, it’s Kumi Tamura, a new student from Japan that was introduced in late 2008 but didn’t seem to stick around past a few appearances (her main character traits at the time were “I’m from Japan! This is how we do things in Japan!” and her extreme naivete), so I was surprised when I actually read the lead story in this issue and saw her showing up nearly three years on (she looks different).

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Pencils: Jeff Shultz
Inking: Jim Amash
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica, No. 256
Cover Date: December, 2011
On-Sale Date: October 26, 2011
Length: 11 pages

Betty exposits to Veronica that the boys are going camping up at Lost Lake this weekend. Veronica says it sounds like fun while her disinterested look says the opposite. Archie, Reggie, and Chuck make fun of Veronica for not understanding rugged, dudebro camping shit. Jughead cares about just the food. Archie makes fun of the “pair of delicate flowers”. Veronica decides to show the sexist pigs up. Betty agrees but points out that Veronica’s not the outdoorsy type. Veronica decides to “go camping the Lodge way”. Unknown to them, Ginger is spying on them. Betty asks about inviting anyone else. Veronica suggests Nancy and Kumi to even things out.

Ginger goes and tells Cheryl. Cheryl’s pissed that they weren’t invited and decides to teach “those Riverdale rejects” a lesson.

On the trip, the guys are tiring from hiking to Archie’s favorite campsite. They smell hamburgers cooking and realize the girls beat them there. They have two tents set up. Veronica’s relaxing on a lounge chair and has a chef cooking the burgers. Nancy and Kumi are relaxing in a hot tub. Even though the guys left before the girls, the girls have access to a private seaplane.

Nancy and Kumi have a far different idea of “roughing it” than Chuck does. Reggie wants to find another campsite. Jughead wants to stay for lunch, but the other guys are opposed. The girls are happy for showing up the guys. Cheryl is spying on them and vows their moment of triumph won’t last long.

As workers bring in boxes of live animals, Ginger observes Cheryl went through a lot of trouble and expense to ruin Betty and Veronica’s weekend. Cheryl rhetorically asks what funs is it to be “fabulously wealthy” if you can’t engage in the occasional act of petty vengeance. One of the guys, Ernie, says he had to charge Cheryl double for the rush job, which is fine with her. She wants to get the “party” started.

Veronica has a maid serve her iced tea. How many people can that seaplane carry? Anyway, a “plague of frogs” arrives. Oh, and Smithers is here, too. Betty observes the frogs are coming from the forest instead of the lake and then notices the bats.

Ginger thinks they might have gone a bit overboard, but Cheryl wants to release skunks. Ernie warns they’ve all been de-scented. That’s fine with Cheryl, because Betty and Veronica don’t know it.

Veronica tells Smithers to tell the pilot to fire up the seaplane, and they’ll be back for him and the others later (he’s expected to strike the camp). He agrees to this.

Cheryl compliments Ernie and his guys. The guys are gonna round up as many of their critters as they can (I thought Cheryl bought them) and meet Cheryl and Ginger back at the parking lot. Dark storm clouds arrive, and Ernie advises them to get a move on.

The guys are stuck in a tent in the rain and think the girls are having a great time.

As Cheryl and Ginger trudge through the rain and mud for five miles, Ginger sees the advantages of owning a seaplane (something that she’d never considered before). Cheryl doesn’t mind, because their revenge is complete. She’s convinced they “totally ruined” Betty and Veronica’s weekend.

Unknown to her, however, Veronica is treating Betty, Kumi, and Nancy to a “deluxe pamper package” at an exclusive spa. Betty guesses this is “the bitter taste of defeat – the Lodge way”.

This was a pretty fun story. It’s a bit odd to see a mean-spirited Ginger on Cheryl’s side, since Ginger is more known to hang out with Betty and Veronica (then again, so does Cheryl, sometimes).

After the story is a one-page pin-up titled “Camping Stinks”, where Betty, Veronica, Archie, Jughead, and Reggie are unknowingly sprayed by a skunk on a camping trip. The coloring is very bright and odd; it doesn’t fit the look of the rest of the issue.

I’m sorry that there was no review last Wednesday. My work schedule has been crazy recently. Hell, I’m scheduled from 5:00 PM to 2:00 AM on Thanksgiving night! On top of that, I’ve fallen way behind on NaNoWriMo and won’t crack 50,000 words this year. 😦 Anyway, stay tuned for another review later tonight.

Comics – Festival Time

Writer: George Gladir
Pencils: Jeff Shultz
Inking: Jim Amash
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica, No. 256
Cover Date: December, 2011
On-Sale Date: October 26, 2011
Length: 5 pages

Veronica walks into…some room at Riverdale High (I assume) with her friend, a redhead named Karyl. Veronica heard Betty and the Green Girls are planning a festival to raise money for “worthy causes”. The Green Girls is an environmental group that Betty is involved in, although it isn’t brought up very often. Anyway, Veronica and Karyn want to participate, and Betty welcomes it. Veronica suggests a festival on the Renaissance; her dress designer could help; she shows a picture of a girl in a dress. Betty says the Renaissance was a “magnificent” period, but festivals about it have been overdone, so they selected another period: female pirates. Um, that’s not a period; that’s a theme. Anyway, Betty says it hasn’t been covered fully.

Veronica was somehow completely unaware of the existence of female pirates. The story turns into a poor history lesson for a bit as Betty brings up Mary Read, Annie Bonnie [sic], and Chin Shih [sic]. Veronica says her dress designer could make the costumes for the pirates and their victims. Betty is appreciative.

On the day of the festival, there’s a big turn-out, which makes the girls happy. Veronica and Karyl show up. Veronica and Betty exchange compliments. Karyl whispers to Veronica that Betty, Nancy, and Ethel aren’t believable as cut-throat pirates. Veronica agrees.

Veronica and Karyl persuaded Archie and Reggie to dress up as escorts to protect them. Betty and Veronica get into a debate over who will kick whose asses. Archie and Reggie just wanna check out the display of pirate weapons, so Veronica lets them.

Veronica and Karyl check out the festival’s other booths: pirate flags and pirate fries (the fuck? were they fried in rum or something?).

Suddenly, Karyn takes back her earlier comment. The girls have stolen their boyfriends. Betty has Archie, and Nancy has Reggie. So…Karyn was dating Archie and/or Reggie?

Anyway, Veronica looks worried. The end.

Wow, not much to this story. I can’t really tell what the point of it was. The most interesting thing that I noticed was a Punisher shirt on one of the guys in the bottom panel on page 4.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Thinking Positive!

Writer: George Gladir
Pencils: Jeff Shultz
Inking: Jim Amash
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica, No. 256
Cover Date: December, 2011
On-Sale Date: October 26, 2011
Length: 6 pages

Polly drives by the Lodge mansion with Betty as her passenger. Polly observes the party going on and decides to “drive up close” for a “look-see”. She then just stops the car where she is (near the entrance).

Polly asks why Betty wasn’t invited. Betty says it’s for just Veronica’s country club friends. Polly asks what Archie’s car is doing here (even though we don’t see it at all). Betty says Archie’s the one exception; he gets invited to almost all of Veronica’s parties.

Betty says it’s hard for her to compete with Veronica for Archie’s affection. Veronica makes weekly visits to a luxurious spa, frequent shopping trips to “the fashion capitals of Europe”, and offers Archie the use of an “Olympic-sized” pool.

Betty believes she, “a girl of modest means”, can’t contend with Veronica. Polly tells her to stop feeling sorry for herself and learn to think positive. She says all of Veronica’s advantages will bring other boys and distractions into her life and make her lose her focus on Archie. Betty seems to agree with her. Last week, while Veronica was shopping in Paris and Milan, Betty had Archie all to herself.

Polly says Mr. Lodge is Betty’s #1 ally in her battle for Archie’s affection. Betty notices something. Seemingly to prove Polly’s point, Mr. Lodge has Smithers literally throw Archie out of the mansion and bar him from it. Archie lands on his ass and blames “the other guy” for throwing the first punch in a fight that he was involved in. Betty helps Archie up.

Since the night is still young, Betty invites Archie to her place for some hot fucking chocolate. Archie accepts and decides to follow in his car.

On the ride home, Betty worries about not being able to entertain Archie like Veronica can. Polly reminds her to think positive. She says, with less diversions, Archie will focus more on Betty.

At Betty’s house, Polly peaks in on Betty and Archie on the couch. Betty winks at Polly.

A few days later, Betty and Nancy are at Pop’s. Nancy observes Veronica driving by in her new sports car. Sipping her milkshake, Betty calls herself lucky. Nancy is confused. Betty says she’s thinking positive and is convinced that the sports car, in some way, is going to help her beat Veronica for Archie’s affection. Nancy’s still confused.

This story is okay, I guess. Not particularly funny. There certainly are a lot of stories comparing and contrasting Betty and Veronica, but I wouldn’t say this is one of the better ones. Also, this is yet another love triangle story, so it’s got that going against it. Anyway, yeah, not much else to say.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Betty and Veronica Spectacular, No. 78

Due to Hurricane Irma knocking out the power down here for a while, I have to substitute a quickie comic review this week. Sorry. So get ready to read about the first issue that I pulled out of a storage box.

Title: Let’s Talk Tiki
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica Spectacular, No. 78
Cover Date: July, 2007
Length: 11 pages

Normally, I don’t review a complete issue in one post unless it’s an issue-length story (well, if you wanna get technical, I normally don’t review comics, since this is a television blog, but I digress). However, this series is a bit different.

For the first 68 issues of its 90-issue run, “Betty and Veronica Spectacular” was indistinguishable from its parent title. It was just an extra title featuring Betty and Veronica (nothing spectacular about it). In fact, if Archie Comics had simply treated these as issues of the parent series, “Betty and Veronica” would have reached a total of 368 issues before being cancelled.

Starting with issue #69, the format was changed to a magazine style (though still in regular comic size and on regular paper). The title was stylized “b&v spectacular”. There was a story plus a bunch of extra stuff (fashions, lists, etc.).

So I’m gonna review the featured story and then note the extra stuff afterward.

Before the story, there’s an “in this issue” page.

Betty walks by Veronica outside and realizes Veronica got her invitation. Veronica is surprised that Betty is having a tiki party (a supplement after this story reveals the party is held on Saturday at 8:00 PM). Betty’s excited, but Veronica thinks it’s silly and suggests picking a more mature theme, like a debutante ball. Betty points out that Veronica’s the only debutante around, and Veronica agrees. Does Cheryl not count?

Archie, Maria, and Frankie come by, all being up for the party. Frankie even says he’ll bring his ukulele. Maria Rodriguez was kinda the token female Hispanic character for a while (her dad’s been vice principal at one point). Frankie Valdez is her boyfriend and an aspiring musician. That’s…really all that you need to know about them.

Anyway, Veronica’s not convinced, but then some random guy named Ryan Jacobs comes by with his invitation and thanks Betty. Veronica gets a lady-boner. The fact that the “hunkiest guy in school” is interested is enough to get Veronica interested enough to help Betty throw the event. If this dude showed up in any other story, I’m not aware of it. Seems like a random love interest.

Anyway, Veronica claims she left her name off the invitations out of modesty. Ryan leaves. Betty calls Veronica out on her bullshit. Veronica readily agrees and pulls Betty along to start planning their party.

Some time later (they’re wearing different clothes), Veronica comes over to Betty’s and asks how the planning’s coming along. Wait, so Veronica isn’t there every step of the way? That was an abrupt situational shift.

Anyway, Betty shows off a box full of “cute” decorations that she bought. Veronica has some guys back up a truck and unload a shit-ton of decorations. Betty says it’s not in her budget. Veronica’s like “I got this, yo.” Betty asks where they’ll fit this shit. Veronica hadn’t considered that but then suggests moving the party to her house. Betty’s firmly against it. Veronica relents – and insults Betty’s house.

On another day, Veronica notes Betty’s planning a hula contest. Betty has been practicing to an instructional DVD. Veronica suspects it’s to impress Ryan and decides to get her “hula groove on”.

Later, a hula instructor named Mona Kai arrives at Lodge Manor. She says the hula represents the spirit of the Earth (eh, it’s supposedly tied to a creation myth). Veronica just wants to impress a guy. She also wants to dance fast instead of slow. She declares she’ll be the hit of the party.

On Saturday, Betty says they have to decorate, but Veronica has hired help for that and declares they’ll get manicures in the meantime. Betty basically calls Veronica a friend with benefits.

When they come back to Betty’s house, Betty’s astonished to find it’s been completely hula-ized and wonders what her parents will say. Veronica insists they’ll love it. Hal and Alice arrive home and are shocked, but Veronica says their house will be back to normal after the party.

The first guests (Archie and Jughead) arrive. Jughead is enthralled with the volcano that erupts chocolate syrup and decides to spend the evening there. Chuck is impressed with the fire. Veronica says they’re having a roast and invites them to help themselves to “some special tiki-style refreshments”. Ethel orders a tropical punch.

That night, the party’s going great. Betty gives Veronica the credit, but Veronica says it was Betty’s idea. Betty agrees. Veronica and at least two other girls (Betty, Nancy, Ethel, and Ginger are all present) start dancing the hula for Ryan. Archie feels left out. Veronica says she can dance for him anytime, which seems to make him sad. Archie enjoys the dancing, anyway. Jughead sticks to the chocolate volcano.

Twenty minutes later, Nancy and Maria stop dancing, exhausted. Veronica tells the drummer to speed up the beat in the hope of making the other girls drop out. Ginger immediately drops out. Veronica curses Betty and her “athletic prowess”.

Soon, both girls are in pain, but Veronica refuses to give up. She hurts her back and calls for help. Archie goes off with her. Betty feels bad for her. Ginger tells Betty that Veronica was just trying to keep up with her.

Later, Ryan hopes Veronica is okay. An amused Betty notes Veronica has found a way to “cope”. The “queen of the tiki party” returns, lying on a comfortable bed carried by four hot, shirtless guys. Veronica notes Ryan only in passing. Archie looks like he knows he’s lost out. Ryan asks if Veronica is for real. Betty says it’s “100% pure Veronica”.

This story is pretty fun. It’s mostly B&V-centered, so the other characters (and there are many) don’t get a chance to do much. Also, it’s interrupted with so many ads – including an insert glossy “The Batman” comic featuring Cal Ripken, Jr. (I’m not fucking kidding).

After this story, there’s a “B&V Tiki Fashions” page, a “more B&V Tiki Fashions” page, and a 4-page “Betty & Veronica present How to Throw a Great Tiki Party!” thing. The tips include: design a snazzy invitation, make a good first impression by giving your (house) entrance a tiki makeover, welcome your guests by having a basket full of Hawaiian leis to wear, dress up a table with a grass skirt, tell your guests to wear Hawaiian shirts (optional: contest for the loudest shirt; Archie won this year), make a cool tiki refreshment stand, create a fun picture opportunity for your friends, use hollowed-out coconuts for drinks, make shish kabobs [sic], have a limbo contest, and have fun. After that, there’s a 2-page “B&V’s Tiki Recipes!” (Hawaiian Ambrosia, Tiki Strawberry Punch, E*Z Coconut Pudding, Chili Dip, Sunflower Seed Salad, and Hawaiian Kabobs [sic]) and a 1-page “Tiki Fashions for the Guys” (featuring Reggie, Jughead, Archie, and Chuck).

Overall, this issue is pretty fun. The inside-back cover previews the upcoming “Bad Boy Trouble” storyline with all four covers and the on-sale dates: #151 (May 15), #152 (June 19), #153 (July 24), #154 (September 4). The back cover has an ad for Archie Italian charms and accessories by Pugster.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – The Road Worrier

Your-Pal-Archie-1.jpgWriter: Ty Templeton
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inks: Ty Templeton
Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Your Pal Archie, No. 1
Cover Date: September, 2017
On-Sale Date: July 26, 2017
Length: 12 pages

I’m sorry that this is a bit late.

So, after largely giving up on New Riverdale (which also largely gave up on us), I decided to try out this new series. This came out yesterday, so I bought the digital version off Amazon. It’s a new Classic Archie title, the first new one since the classic “Betty and Veronica” title farted out its last issue after New Riverdale had already started in 2015. The pencils are done by Dan Parent, who has been described as “the last Classic Archie guy left” at the company. He continues doing new 5-page stories for the digests, but that’s pretty much been the sole new Classic Archie content for the past two years – until now.

Parent has updated the Archie house style somewhat, incorporating elements from “Riverdale”. As you can see, Betty’s hair is completely pulled back (while it works on the show just fine, it makes her look less attractive here), Veronica has a slightly darker skin tone (which is fine), and Archie is more muscular. The main thing that I have to complain about is Archie’s hair. What the fuck is that?! Parent kept the silly Tic-Tac-Toe pattern but also gave Archie that stupid…thing up front. Ugh.

The format of the series is interesting. There’s a complete story, part of a serial story, and a classic reprint. I’ll be reviewing just the complete story here. I’ll review the serial story once it’s finished.

First, there’s a credits page, and Archie previews the upcoming main story.

The story starts with Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead at Pop’s. I want to note what everyone’s having. Archie has a hamburger (partially eaten) and a milkshake. Betty has already eaten her hamburger and has a soda (I guess). Veronica is eating some kind of dish that is probably meant to be healthy and also has a drink. Jughead is a glutton with three hamburgers, a side of fries, a slice of pie, a hot dog, and a milkshake.

Parent gave Jughead some facial hair on his chin. That’s fine. It’s been done before.

Anyway, Archie says his family is visiting his aunt for a couple weeks on a “real working farm”. He’s looking forward to it. He asks the others what they’re doing with their vacation time. Betty is helping her sister paint her apartment. Veronica’s dad is taking the family to the Caribbean. Jughead is going to learn to drive. The others can’t believe Jughead wants to put effort into learning something. Jughead doesn’t think it’ll be hard. Betty jokingly worries for “drivers everywhere”. Jughead has signed up for Professor Flutesnoot’s Driver’s Ed course through the school. He vows, by Monday, he will “rule the roads of Riverdale”.

Jughead disastrously crashes the car on Monday, so Flutesnoot angrily sends him away. On Tuesday, Jughead does the same thing at Defensive Drivers of America School. On Wednesday, he actually manages to get a car set on fire at Bob’s Discount Drivers School.

On Thursday, he comes over to Archie’s house and reveals every driving instructor in the state has banned him (word gets around). Jughead tries to get Archie to teach him to drive, or else he’ll be cut off from Pop’s burgers for the summer, because apparently everyone is going out of town soon (everyone being Archie and Veronica as far as we know; Polly lives nearby, so Betty ain’t going anywhere), so Jughead won’t be able to “bum a ride” from them. He’s such an asshole. There’s some banter where Archie suggests eating at home and trying vegetables and Jughead trying to get Archie to “clear” the “debt” that he might “someday” owe Jughead for saving his life. Archie gives up and drives Jughead out to the middle of nowhere to teach him.

Out in the middle of nowhere, Jughead makes fun of Archie for naming his car (Betsy) and learns he’s only Archie’s second-best friend (Betsy is first).

The next five goddamn pages are devoted to Jughead’s driving mishaps, including crashing into a fence, backing up onto a road (yeah, it’s an issue), driving backwards, discussing a “Grand Theft Auto”-like video game, crashing through a guard rail, driving down a cliff, and driving on the driver-side wheels through an alleyway to avoid killing a cat. One nice thing during this sequence is the mention of Doyle’s Field, a reference to former Archie Comics head writer Frank Doyle.

A frustrated Archie calls Jughead the worst driver in history and says Jughead will never drive his car again. Jughead tells Archie that he can stop teaching him, because he’s not getting his own car; he planned on borrowing Archie’s while his family was at the farm. Goddess, Jughead is such an asshole! Jughead mentions Pop’s is across town from where he lives (only because it’s convenient to the plot). Archie tells him to get the fuck out, but then Jughead “decides” to get out. He asks Archie if he’s walking home. He doesn’t get an answer, so the next page has Jughead stepping over a wooden fence, falling down a hill (or huge pile of dirt), and landing by Pop’s.

Pop is happy to see Jughead, because he hasn’t seen him in four days. Jughead sits at the counter and orders four burgers with everything, because he has a “long walk home”.

This story is okay, I guess, but it’s nothing special. If you wanted to know what the gang has been up to in the Classic Archieverse, this issue provides the answer: same old shit. For a twelve-page story, not a whole hell of a lot actually happened. A total of six pages (half of the story) are taken up by “action” sequences.

So is this issue, which contains twenty pages of new content, worth $3.99? *inhales deeply* Not sure. Probably not. I plan to address comic pricing and what’s been going on with Archie Comics in an essay, which will be a bonus of sorts before next Wednesday’s review, so stay tuned for that.

Comics – Stress Struck

Writer: George Gladir
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inking: Mike Esposito
Original Publication: Betty’s Diary, No. 17
Cover Date: June, 1988
Length: 5 pages

I’m sorry for doing a quickie this week, but I want to devote extra attention to something pretty neat for next week’s review.

This week, I’ve decided to review another story from the “Betty’s Diary” series.

Betty muses about how, these days, “almost every teen” complains about stress. However, Betty feels, if one anticipates problem situations and plans ahead, stress can be eliminated.

As an example, she uses “Big” Ethel always complaining about the hassle of getting to school on time. The “poor girl” uses up all of her energy just getting to school, so she’s drained before the school day even begins. Betty wishes Ethel would learn to set her alarm like her to avoid the stress. Here’s something odd. Ethel wakes up at 8:25. After quickly getting dressed and grabbing her books, she just misses the school bus. Betty sets her alarm for 7:00. Why so early?

For her next example, Betty uses Veronica getting out of the shower and stumbling and sliding to her bedroom’s phone, stressing over the idea that it might be “important” (to a teen), only to discover it’s a wrong number. Haha, the days before cell phones. In a similar situation, Betty takes a bubble bath and doesn’t panic when her phone rings, reasoning they’ll call back if it’s important.

Betty’s next diary box is mistakenly not colored in. For her next example, Betty uses Archie stressing and cramming the night before an exam (while the TV and boombox are on). As Betty passes by Ethel’s (first-floor) bedroom window, Ethel is studying and asking Betty about it. Betty says she finished studying yesterday and believes in relaxing the night before an exam.

For her next example (set in Pop’s), Betty uses Midge stressing over Moose not having asked her to the dance yet. Betty tells her to relax, because Midge is the only girl in Moose’s life. Midge asks Betty if it bothers her that Archie asked Veronica. Betty admits it does but then says she’s attractive and is sure that some other boy will ask her. That’s a rare bit of vanity on Betty’s part. Sure enough, at that very moment, a guy named Roger comes over and asks Betty to the spring dance, and she accepts. Betty feels justified, but Midge says it doesn’t help her. Moose comes by and asks if he forgot to ask Midge to the dance (Moose’s hair is colored more brown in this panel). Midge tells the dumbass yes. As Moose leaves, Betty tells Midge that she worked herself up over nothing. Midge admits it but then freaks out over having nothing to wear to the dance, which is a few days away. Betty is like “WTF?”

The story concludes with Betty worrying over having no problems, her life being “too perfect”, and a potential, unknown “something” that might ruin it.

She goes downstairs and stares out the living room window at the full moon and a bright star. As Alice and Hal watch her, Alice says Betty seems so restless and fidgety “lately” (despite the fact that Betty only just now started worrying). Hal (whose hair was white during this time) guesses it must be stress; he hears there’s a lot of it going around.

This story is pretty good. It has a cute ending. I was worried that Betty would end up stressing over Archie or something equally stupid, but that didn’t happen.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – With Friends Like These

Writer: Kathleen Webb
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inking: Mike Esposito
Original Publication: Betty’s Diary, No. 17
Cover Date: June, 1988
Length: 5 pages

I’m sorry for doing a quickie this week, but I recently found something really cool that I want to devote extra attention to for next week’s review.

This week, I’ve decided to review another story from the “Betty’s Diary” series. This time, I want to focus on Betty and Veronica’s friendship as perceived by Betty.

Betty muses about how, sometimes, she wonders why she tries to be friends with Veronica Lodge. This morning, Veronica criticized Betty’s choice of clothing colors (blue and white), which made her “look even more dowdy than normal”. She also criticized the material, which “just hangs” on Betty. Betty eventually got so pissed off that she was like “Fuck this shit” and left. Veronica took it as Betty not wanting her “help”.

“Thoroughly disgusted”, Betty came home, went up to her bedroom, back-kicked her door closed (startling her car, Caramel), and started writing in her diary. She has to write this all down and work it all out in her mind. She poses the question: “Why am I friends with Veronica Lodge?”

She has more reasons against their friendship than for it. She decides to list them, so she can examine them one by one:

Sometimes, if Betty tells Veronica a secret dream of hers, Veronica laughs at it. Example: They passed by a bookstore, and Betty expressed her dream of becoming a famous author someday. Veronica said, if Betty wrote her memoirs, she’d bore people to tears. Veronica spread it to some girls at Pop’s. Due to Veronica’s “insensitivity”, Betty had her milkshake at the counter, alone.

If Betty gets a date with Archie, Veronica tries to break it. Example: Veronica “reminded” Archie of a (never-made) previous date with her.

If Betty gets a date with any handsome boy, Veronica tries to break it. Example: Veronica asks Betty if she’d mind if Veronica danced with her date. Betty did mind but also said that didn’t fucking matter.

Veronica gets Betty sucky blind dates. Example: A snob insulted Betty’s intelligence, and Betty made a comeback that doesn’t make sense.

Veronica had previously put down Betty’s taste in clothes.

Veronica often ridicules Betty’s choice of hobbies. Examples: dollhouses and teddy bears. Veronica told Betty to “grow up and be a woman”. Betty asked why, adding Veronica hasn’t yet.

Veronica often flaunts her wealth in front of Betty’s face. Example: As they passed by a travel agency, Veronica mentioned her parents were taking her to Europe for the summer, adding Betty couldn’t “afford a chance to gain culture like that”. Betty couldn’t even afford bus fare home.

Veronica often brags about her breeding. Example: While in the Lodge family gallery, Veronica said the Lodges “date back to kings and queens” (without specifically saying they’re descended from royalty). She also said the Coopers were “just common stock”. Betty asked if her family makes good soup. Cheesy but funny.

If they make plans to go somewhere together (such as spending a whole Saturday shopping), Veronica will cancel if something better comes along (such as Archie wanting to take a drive in the country).

After all of that, Betty still doesn’t know why she’s Veronica’s friend, because Veronica’s so fucking selfish.

Then Betty remember one time when Veronica really needed her friendship. Veronica came over to Betty in tears, because her dad lost a million dollars in the stock exchange. Despite Mr. Lodge still having “vast millions” left, Veronica considered them to be “paupers” and was frightened that they’ll be in the “poorhouse” next. There’s a slight typo: “looses” instead of “loses”. While Betty knew Veronica was overreacting, she comforted her anyway. Soon, it was all over, and Veronica was all smiles again, but she admitted she never would have weathered it if it wasn’t for Betty. Betty told Veronica to call her whenever she’s down. Betty knows anybody would’ve thought Veronica was crazy; only Betty understood Veronica’s eccentric fears.

Betty goes on to realize, if it wasn’t for her, Veronica wouldn’t have any friends at all, because none of the other girls want to bother putting up with her; Betty is the only one that tries to understand her.

Betty realizes Veronica does have her good moments. Lots of times, Veronica has taken her along traveling with her family, given her nice clothes, and “shared boy talk”.

Betty justifies most of the hurt that Veronica does to her as being “caused by her pampered, spoiled, selfish lifestyle”, reasoning “she can’t help her upbringing”.

Betty looks at her framed photo of Veronica and again asks why she’s friends with her. She concludes it’s because, more than she needs Veronica’s friendship, Veronica needs hers.

As she sees Veronica approaching her house and waving to her, Betty waves back, thinking that’s what true friendship is all about.

This story. Wow. Where to begin? It’s nice to have a story in which Betty does an in-depth examination of her friendship with Veronica. Here’s the problem with this particular story, though: all of the negatives are valid points (which Betty wrongly excuses, believing Veronica “can’t help” it), but all of the supposed positives are hollow. To summarize, Betty puts up with a lot of shit (the bad kind) from Veronica (who is, by all appearances, incredibly selfish and neurotic) in the hope of getting free shit (the good kind). She also sees herself as being Veronica’s savior in a way: the one person that’s willing to be Veronica’s friend (because Veronica is apparently nowhere close to being popular, and there is apparently no other girl willing to get in good with the rich girl). This story makes the Betty/Veronica friendship pretty sad. Betty sees herself taking on this responsibility as being “what true friendship is all about”. No, Betty. If you want to be Veronica’s friend, so she won’t be lonely, that’s fine, but true friendship also involves calling your friend out on her shit, repeatedly, until she knocks it the fuck off.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Telling It Like It Is

Writer: George Gladir
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inking: Mike Esposito
Original Publication: Betty’s Diary, No. 17
Cover Date: June, 1988
Length: 5 pages

Hey, I’m sorry for doing a quickie this week, but it’s been crazy with interruptions, so the review that I’d been planning to get up today isn’t done.

Before I start, I want to advertise something that I’ve created: Riverdale Radio, a custom station on Pandora. Basically, I seed songs and artists (as much as are available on Pandora) that have been featured in any production based on Archie Comics (although, obviously, the station will play much more than that, and I do little to limit that). Obviously, the biggest influences are the 1996-2003 live-action Sabrina series as well as “Riverdale”, but I think everything is represented in some way. The station is updated every so often as I identify songs from Sabrina, or a new episode of “Riverdale” airs. Check it out.

This week, I’ve decided to review another story from the “Betty’s Diary” series. This time, I want to focus on the relationship between Betty and her older sister, Polly.

Polly Cooper takes some explaining. Originally, Betty didn’t have any siblings. However, in the “The Adventures of Little Archie” title, writer/artist Bob Bolling created an older sister (Polly) for Betty. Polly first appeared in #23 (cover-dated Summer of 1962). Bolling also created an older brother (Chic). His first appearance seems to be in Little Archie Mystery #1 (cover-dated August of 1963). Their existence was ignored in the mainstream Archie titles until they were eventually introduced into “normal” “continuity”. Adult Polly was introduced in Betty’s Diary #11 (cover-dated September of 1987). Adult Chic’s first appearance seems to be in Betty #4 (cover-dated February of 1993). Polly was a news reporter in San Francisco, and Chic was a spy(!). That explained why they weren’t around. Polly eventually moved back to Riverdale and was seen more often (in contrast, Chic has rarely ever been acknowledged; I count eight Adult Chic stories total), but the story that I’m reviewing today takes place before that; in fact, it seems to be her second appearance.

Betty muses about how, back in sixth grade, she imagined high school would be all sports and parties – and ended up being way wrong. Of note, sixth-grade Betty imagines The Archies playing music, so either she’s the one that came up with the idea for the band, or they were already playing music in sixth grade.

Betty’s had plenty of fun times at school with the gang – but greatly underestimated the amount of studying involved. Lately, she’s been wondering if her A average is worth the effort and considers settling for a C or D average. She questions the usefulness of algebra and a foreign language.

Suddenly, a screech of tires outside her window (apparently, Betty’s bedroom overlooks the street) alerts Betty. She goes out to meet the visitor and announces “Golly! It’s Polly!” They hug. Polly explains her TV station sent her to cover a story here, and she’s the only one on the staff that knows any Spanish. Polly asks about their mom and dad, but Betty says they won’t be back until much later. Having only an hour together, Polly takes Betty for a bite to eat.

During the drive, Polly asks Betty about “Riverdale’s teen-queen”. Betty’s like “All of this fucking school work sucks.”

After they get out of the car and are heading for the eatery, Polly tells her that it will all pay off. This is a problem that I’ve noticed with comics: characters seemingly have short conversations over long periods of time. It’s a result of sequential panels occurring in different locations, which itself is a result of limited pages in which to tell the story.

Anyway, Betty wonders if it will really pay off, and…why the fuck is Polly leading Betty everywhere by the wrist? That’s so rude.

After they’ve gotten their stuff (Betty got a sandwich and drink, and Polly got a coffee or hot tea) and are sitting in a booth, Polly tells Betty about an incident that happened when she went to Riverdale High.

Polly and two others from the honors class volunteered to clean up the stands after a football game. Sharon Miller, the “social butterfly and most popular girl in school”, came over. Polly doesn’t believe Sharon missed a single party or dance during her entire four years in school. Sharon unintentionally insults the “grade grinds” while trying to compliment them. Cathy is now a banking officer in Boston, and Nina is a “glamorous” advertising executive in New York.

When they get up to pay, the woman behind the counter asks them if they enjoyed the sandwiches that she made (I guess Polly just chowed hers down before starting her story). Polly recognizes the woman as Sharon Miller (I guess the sandwiches weren’t prepared fresh when they came in). Sharon has heard about Polly’s career and is impressed. Polly says it’s exciting but also hard work.

Outside, Betty asks Polly if that’s the woman from her story, because she’s a dumbass. Polly confirms it (the identity of the woman, that is).

On the drive back home, Polly beats Betty over the head with the moral of the story: you can’t have your cake and eat it too, and you’ve got to pay your dues to be someone in life.

After Polly drops Betty off and drives off, the two of them wave to each other. Archie comes by and asks Betty if she’s doing anything tonight. Betty says she can’t go to the spring dance, because she has to study. Archie tells “kiddo” (that’s rude) that he needs help with his algebra.

Betty agrees to help, and they study into the night while having cookies and hot chocolate. Betty writes in her diary that Polly was wrong about one thing: sometimes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Okay, let’s talk about this story. It goes the “hard work pays off, and slacking off doesn’t” route. However, there are plenty of factors involved in the real world. I was an average student in school. I didn’t strive for excellence but didn’t totally slack off either (as Betty was considering in this story). I went to college after high school and got a four-year degree in Business Administration. I then fell into the “no job without experience and no experience without a job” rut. I’ve had one office job, but I’ve primarily worked in retail, because that’s what makes up most of the private sector. Today, I’m a nobody at the company, but I’m making more money than I ever had before. It’s not great, but it’s enough to live on, barring anything truly bad happening. Part of it is my own doing, but it’s not due to not studying; it’s the simple fact that I have no motivation to excel and “move up” in someone else’s company; that means kissing ass and following someone else’s rules. If I ever get the nerve to take the plunge and open my own business, I’ll at least be happier. I wouldn’t be happy being a department manager or even a store manager where I work. If I don’t have that kind of drive (and a lot of people don’t), getting the best grades in the world won’t matter. There’s also the economy where I live (which makes Riverdale looks like a metropolis in comparison), which sucks and is worse than the state average. In contrast to my situation, I’ve worked for people that are, to put it lightly, dumbass motherfuckers, but they’re the ones that are in charge, because they have that drive (or they’re just lucky); they’re “social butterflies” if you will. So this story simplifies a complex issue.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Betty and Veronica’s Scrapbook

Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica Double Digest Magazine, No. 150
Cover Date: May, 2007
Length: 12 pages

This isn’t a story. It’s meant to be Betty and Veronica’s scrapbook, giving some details about the girls’ history.

I got the title from the fact that, on page 1, Betty and Veronica hold up a book with the title of “Betty and Veronica’s Scrapbook”. It’s dumb that the registered trademark symbol is on their own scrapbook, though. Come on, Archie Comics, couldn’t you have withheld that in this case?

Betty and Veronica present their scrapbook to the readers on page 1. As a personal rule, stories in which the characters are aware that they’re fictional characters aren’t canon. That means, to me, none of the information in this story can be trusted.

There are some dumb items that Betty and Veronica saved throughout the years, which I won’t get into here. I’m going to focus on the history of the girls as presented here.

There are pictures of Betty and Veronica as babies. There are also pictures of themselves as little kids. They actually call themselves “Little Betty” and “Little Veronica”.

Betty and Veronica first met when they were in their “Little” stages – or slightly older (they met Archie around that time, too). Please note that their ages at their first meeting have varied from story to story across the decades – from as recently as the current school year to lying next to each other in the hospital’s nursery.

There are pictures of Betty and Veronica fighting over Archie (who took this?!) and making up.

There’s a picture of Veronica in a pretty dress with the text: “Becoming a Fashion Plate!” Meanwhile, Betty’s picture has “Happy in T-shirt and Jeans!”

The core five are at Veronica’s fancy seventh birthday party somewhere. Veronica also had a fancy invitation sent out. For Betty’s birthday party, Betty, Veronica, and Archie celebrate at Pop’s.

For their first dance at junior high, there was a coin toss to see who would get to go with Archie. Betty won. Veronica went with Reggie, but Reggie stared at himself in the mirror for a while. He did dance with Veronica, though.

One of Betty’s honor roll report cards (from eighth grade) is included. She had Math, Science, Geography, Spanish, Health, Home Ec., and Gym (the last subject was obscured, but this is my guess based on Veronica’s report card, which otherwise matches Betty’s precisely). Betty got an A or A- in every subject for every quarter. Veronica was too embarrassed by her own report card, so she covered it with a photo of herself.

Betty responds by including a photo of herself, wearing an ensemble that she made herself.

They started playing together as The Archies when they started high school.

They met new friends: Brigitte Reilly, Chuck and Nancy,…

The scrapbook is interrupted by a “Learn To Draw Veronica” page (oh, come on! why here of all places?!) and a “TMNT: The Video Game” ad.

…and Ginger Lopez. There’s also a mention of Maria Rodriguez being thrilled when Frankie Valdez moved back to Riverdale (no mention of when Betty and Veronica met either, though).

There’s a picture of a young Jellybean (though not at her birth as the text suggests), who is “a lot cuter than that brother of hers” (with a picture of Jughead sticking out his tongue).

There’s mention of a “dark” period when Cheryl Blossom moved back (no mention of her first time here). The “Love Showdown” logo is partially seen, and it’s mentioned Betty and Veronica almost lost Archie for good, got him back, and still don’t trust Cheryl (the stories where they hang out together apparently didn’t happen).

Betty and Veronica then list other boyfriends that have “filled in” for Archie – Adam (a boyfriend for Betty during this time period, Reggie, and Jason Blossom – but they “always go back to that lovable klutz”.

There’s a picture of Veronica introducing Betty to The Veronicas (is it from the issue of “Veronica” that introduced them?) as well as their album cover.

There’s some text from Betty and Veronica in quotes, which is confusing. Are they supposed to be saying those things to the readers at that point? If so, then why is the text in the scrapbook? I think I might have an explanation for this. You see,…nah, they just fucked up.

The next text reads “And now, here we are, getting ready to go out into the world!” The included photos are Betty reading a physics book and Veronica filling out a college application online. This means Betty and Veronica are high school seniors.

They wonder what the future will hold for them.

They praise their families (pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Lodge, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, and “Chick” and Polly are included) and friends (a picture of Ethel, Moose, Archie, Midge, Brigitte, Dilton, and Jughead is included).

A pair of scissors is shown on the scrapbook, which makes no sense if they’re currently showing the scrapbook to us.

Of course, Betty and Veronica don’t know which one of them will end up with Archie.

This was pretty enjoyable, but Betty and Veronica’s histories seem a bit too simplified.

Tune in next Wednesday!