Comics – The Best of Buds

Betty-and-Veronica-255
I’m sorry that this is late.

Before the story, there’s a 1-page pin-up called “Text & Relaxation”. Betty and Veronica are hanging out at the beach. Veronica talks about it being just them at the beach all day, but Betty calls her out on texting Archie behind her back.

Writer: George Gladir
Pencils: Jeff Shultz
Inking: Jim Amash
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica, No. 255
Cover Date: October, 2011
On-Sale Date: August 24, 2011
Length: 6 pages

Betty and Veronica are at Pop’s. Pop asks what it’ll be. Veronica says milkshakes to help celebrate “Memory Lane Day”. No, this isn’t an appearance of that stupid time-travel gimmick. Anyway, Veronica doesn’t specify what kind of milkshakes.

Nancy arrives. Betty invites her to sit and celebrate with them, and Veronica orders a milkshake for Nancy on her. Nancy asks what it’s about. Betty gives the backstory, which is the typical fighting over Archie getting in the way of their friendship. Veronica explains they decided to recall good moments once per month. Nancy pulls up a chair and disappears in the next panel. Despite that, Pop still brings three milkshakes (strawberry, it seems).

Veronica thanks him and recalls a cherished memory from back in grade school. There was a bully, so Betty taught her some moves that she picked up from watching Polly practice karate. So what was the bully doing? Untying Veronica’s hair bow (the fiend!). Veronica’s solution was to punch that motherfucker right in the goddamn face. Well, it worked: he stopped bothering her.

Betty recalls when her pet cat, Caramel, went missing. She cried to her mom, and Veronica had her servants scouring the neighborhood for Caramel. Veronica finally found Caramel snoozing under Betty’s bed. Okay, Betty was little; I’ll accept her not checking there first. Anyway, Betty says they’ll always be great pals.

Veronica then relates a lighter moment: she once gave a costume party for the neighborhood pets (she was probably in middle school at the time), and Hot Dog (Jughead’s dog) had the last laugh by eating the cake while they were laughing at his silly tie.

Veronica also relates how Betty helped her celebrate her ninth birthday by teaching her how to blow out all of the candles with just one breath, so her birthday wish would come true. This leads to Veronica and Betty arguing over who Archie’s #1 girlfriend is. Claiming to have foreseen this argument, Nancy tells them to cool it.

Betty realizes they don’t need a special day; they know they’re still the best of friends in their hearts. Veronica agrees an orders a tray of Pop’s best desserts. Pop asks what they’re celebrating now. Veronica and Betty say the end of Memory Lane Day. Pop is surprised, despite probably hearing the entire conversation.

This story is okay. It’s nice to get some background details on the girls’ friendship. I just wish they didn’t get into a stupid argument over Archie again (which was what they were trying to avoid in the first place).

Tune in next Wednesday!

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Comics – Beach Blanket Bash-Up

Betty-and-Veronica-255.jpg
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Pencils: Jeff Shultz
Inking: Jim Amash
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica, No. 255
Cover Date: October, 2011
On-Sale Date: August 24, 2011
Length: 10 pages

I’m sorry that this is late.

Before I get into the story, I want to address the cover. It’s nice (even though the scene technically doesn’t occur in the feature story), but why is the moon drawn so goddamn big? It’s not the first time that it’s been done. Just draw it normal-sized.

Betty and Veronica arrive at the beach. Betty notes they’re the last to arrive as usual. Veronica starts bullshitting about being “fashionably late” and gets on Betty’s case about wearing the same swimsuit all summer. She wants to take Betty shopping, but Betty declines. There’s a cute visual gag where a dude gets a boner for the two luscious ladies and gets hit in the head with a frisbee.

Archie and Moose come by, gathering driftwood for tonight’s bonfire. Archie’s really looking forward to it, but the girls are worried over who Archie’s gonna be snuggling with. For fuck’s sake…

Yes, this is the plot of this story. Anyway, Veronica doesn’t wanna leave “a big decision as important as this” to klutzy Archie. We see Archie trip and drop the driftwood as Cheryl wants by, but it’s unclear if it’s because of her or his own ineptitude. Veronica suggests flipping a coin. Betty says that’s “so impersonal” and suggests a contest, their own “secret Olympics” with Archie as the gold medal. Veronica asks who the silver medal is for second place. Reggie shows up and is his usual egotistical self in trying to get one of them to be with him at the bonfire. Since Veronica doesn’t plan on losing, she agrees to Reggie as the silver medal (without saying so). Betty slaps her five. Reggie’s left confused.

Later, Archie and Moose are eating hamburgers that Jughead grilled. Jughead’s also grilling hot dogs. Archie compliments the burger and asks for the secret. Jughead’s mum about it and talks about how he’s made “the pursuit of the perfect patty” his “life’s work”.

Nancy announces surf’s up, and a lot of people head into the water. Veronica and Betty slap each other five and go out to compete in round 1 of their stupid contest. Betty reminds Veronica that she’d wiped out last time. Veronica was embarrassed. She has since taken a few lessons from the world runner-up (the champ was busy). Veronica makes Betty wipe out and wins. Veronica engages in some G-rated trash talk (even though she seems to be an adult, judging by her dialogue). Betty compliments her and swims to shore.

Veronica suggests volleyball for round 2. Betty eagerly agrees. They join Archie, Midge, Reggie, and Moose’s game. It’s Betty, Archie, and Midge against Veronica, Reggie, and Moose. The game is “fast and furious” until Archie hits Veronica in the head with the ball, causing a…neck injury. Okay. Then Betty does it. Betty wins.

Veronica tries to conceal her injury and tells Betty to pick the next competition. Archie and Midge wonder what’s up with them. Betty chooses frisbee for round 3. They join Jughead and Reggie. During the game, there’s no trace of Veronica’s neck injury. Veronica explains, when her dad took them to Australia on winter break, a “nice man” showed her how to throw a boomerang. Veronica proceeds to throw the frisbee like a boomerang. It returns to her. Betty injures her ankle during this and tries to conceal it.

Veronica’s “sprained” neck is suddenly acting up again, so she suggests sand art for round 4. Betty agrees. Chuck’s working on one, and Cheryl’s just hanging out, doing nothing. Betty and Veronica get to work on their sand castles, but Veronica builds her castle too close to the water, and it’s ruined.

Round 5 is a three-legged race. Veronica/Moose beat Betty/Reggie.

Round 6 is…finding random lost shit on the beach? Betty finds more shit, so Midge declares her to be the winner.

It all comes down to round 7, a hot dog-eating contest. Archie is amused by Veronica participating. Cheryl takes a pic with her cell phone and posts it online for all to see.

Jughead declares Veronica to be the winner, mostly because Betty throws down a hot dog (or is it the other way around? it’s hard to tell). Betty hugs her, calls her awesome, and says she deserves this win. Veronica doesn’t consider it to be a win, because she’s sunburned, sick to her stomach, scraped, scratched, and sore; she can hardly move. She’s too beat to care that she won the contest. As the sun sets, she’s going home and leaves Archie to Betty. Betty finds Archie cozying up to Cheryl. As the bonfire starts, everyone else is having a great time, but Betty follows Veronica, realizing they were so busy trying to beat each other that they didn’t notice someone else was taking “the prize”.

This story is kind of mixed. It’s a stupid, degrading premise, but I love the fact that Cheryl got Archie by not doing a damn thing. Girl’s smart.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 3

Betty-and-Veronica-Vixens-3.jpgWriter: Jamie Lee Rotante
Art: Eva Cabrera
Colors: Elaina Unger
Letters: Rachel Deering
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 3
Cover Date: March, 2018
On-Sale Date: January 24, 2018
Length: 19 pages

I’m sorry that this is a bit late.

Before the story, there’s a recap of the previous issue on the credits page. Bubbles is confirmed as Bubbles McBounce, a Little Archie character. Ambrose’s last name, Pipps, is also given. Also, having not read much of Little Archie, I’m surprised to learn from Wikipedia that the Southside Serpents originated in Little Archie as a rival gang of kids.

On their way to a biker bar, the Vixens dodge roadkill. Apparently, they’d come across a dead skunk last time. They arrive at The Perilous Pike (a reference to an uncatchable fish that lived in a pond in Little Archie). They go over the plan, which basically amounts to blending in.

Ethel is worried that it’s a bar, because they’re underage. Toni tells “Mugsy” to just order a soda.

They go inside. Midge makes conversation with a random biker about his bike outside (how’d she know it’s his?). Toni orders a drink. Betty, Veronica, and Evelyn sit at a table, and Evelyn carves “Minerva was here” into it. Um,…okay.

The guy sitting next to Toni at the counter has a problem with her and draws a knife, so she punches him in the face hard enough to cause blood to come out of his mouth. The guy that Midge was talking to tries to go after Toni, but Evelyn pulls a knife, stopping him and surprising Midge. Toni rallies the other girls, who all stand up. Evelyn holds up her knife and somehow manages to intimidate this gang of grown-ass men.

It turns out that this was in the present time, and now we get a flashback to one week earlier. Veronica and Betty try to leave River Vixens practice and round the gang up, but Cheryl confronts them about leaving. Veronica and Betty bullshit an excuse. We learn Midge is also a River Vixen. Cheryl grants them leave but lectures them about attendance. I love that this comic is borrowing the River Vixens from Riverdale. Also, Eva Cabrera changed her art style starting with this issue, and it looks a lot better. Everything looks more normal and less artsy, and there’s not a hint of retro. The girls even have a bit of an anime look sometimes. I like it.

While Betty and Veronica are changing in the girls’ locker room, Mr. Weatherbee pages them to his office. He’s upset that they were talking with Bubbles, who has a “reputation”. He lets them off with a warning and tells them to be careful about who they choose to surround themselves with. Betty says they’ll be careful. Oh, Mr. Weatherbee has a photo of his cat on his desk. Cute. 🙂

As Betty and Veronica go to Ambrose’s garage, Betty is upset about how Mr. Weatherbee talked about Bubbles. The place is a mess. Toni’s already there. Bubbles is taking care of Ambrose. Betty irritates Bubbles by asking if she knows any Serpents from her past. Bubbles knows where they camp out. Toni is eager to kick ass. Ambrose doesn’t want the girls to get involved on his account. Toni says they’ll do it on their own account. Bubbles sends Ambrose to the couch to get some more sleep and unrolls a sheet of paper for the girls to look at. Veronica happily says it’s time to get the band back together.

As the girls leave the garage, Betty’s going on about Mr. Weatherbee again. Veronica gets a text from Midge to come to Pickens’ bridge for a “surprise”. Oh, and Veronica’s got a photo of Archie as her cell phone wallpaper.

Veronica’s confused, but the three of them go to the bridge (which grass is growing on top of) and wait around. Betty keeps going on about Mr. Weatherbee. Veronica is concerned for Evelyn, who hasn’t been seen for days, has no phone, has no social media presence, and hasn’t let Veronica know where she lives. Betty suggests asking around, but Toni says everyone’s too afraid to get that close to her. Ethel and Midge arrive on their motorcycles. They’d pooled their money and taken some lessons at the civic center, which teaches “everything”.

Veronica says they need to confront the Serpents soon, which scares Ethel. Toni wants to kick ass, because they’re a motherfucking gang. Veronica admits she’s not wrong and says it’s now or never. Just as Betty brings up Evelyn, they hear something and check it out.

They’re surprised to find Evelyn spray-painting anti-Serpent graffiti on the side of the bridge, next to the tunnel. Evelyn asks her “friends” if they were on the bridge the whole time (honestly, the artwork makes it hard to tell if they were on or near the bridge). Veronica asks how long she was here, but Evelyn gets existential about time. Evelyn asks about her art, and Midge says it’s great but asks if she shouldn’t have done it on the side entering Riverdale, not leaving it. Evelyn gets existential about sides and wants to “do some crimes”. Betty corrects her that they’re gonna help people. Evelyn’s a bit disappointed but thinks it’s basically the same thing.

Following Bubbles’ advice (possibly from that paper earlier), the Vixens “handle” the following “business” around town before taking on the Serpents:

*Midge and Ethel break into Pickens General Store at night, because Morty always overcharges Bubbles for gum, so they put bubblegum all over the door to the manager’s office.

*Toni dunks a football player’s head in the toilet, because he doesn’t back off when girls tell him no. Apparently, Toni did this in the guy’s house instead of at school, which means she followed him home.

*All of the Vixens (well, Toni and Evelyn, anyway) knock over trash cans in front of Riverdale City Hall as a message to the mayor, who turns a blind eye to some of the real problems in this town. Then they run away from the cops. They go through with this, even though Bubbles had changed her mind about it (“too big”).

They go to the Serpents’ camp (the RV) and circle it to intimidate them. This is what we see at the beginning of the first issue. We’re now all caught up.

Back in the present, the girls run out of the bar and ride off. Betty says sometimes she just hates humanity. She wants vengeance against the Serpents but asks if they’re really their worst enemy. Because, y’know, they’d just had a confrontation with a bunch of guys that hadn’t trashed their town. She also asks what kicking over trash cans and sticking jocks’ heads in the toilet really accomplishes. She doesn’t look where she’s going. Veronica warns her. Some Serpents drive at them. Betty takes a spill just as one of them flips her off (uncensored). So giving the finger is okay, but saying “shit”, “bitch”, or “asshole” isn’t?

Betty stands up and throws her helmet to the ground in frustration. She decides the Serpents are their biggest problem right now (though the wrong word is bolded).

They go into Spotty’s (Spotty was the name of Little Archie’s dog). Fangs meets them. Penny wants them to talk to her instead (because, y’know, girls), but Fangs sends her to get the girls a round of drinks (which Betty declines). Fangs says they’re on him. Veronica is disgusted with the way that Fangs talks to Penny.

Betty and Fangs start talking. Betty gets pissed at his sexist attitude and eventually grabs his jacket. She lets him go and lectures him, which earns her a round of laughs from the Serpents. She challenges him to a one-on-one bike race of Serpents versus Vixens tomorrow at 7 PM at Logger’s Pond (the home of the Perilous Pike in the Little Archie comics). She then has to explain to him who the Vixens are. Fangs agrees; he says, if the Vixens win, the Serpents will leave them alone; if the Serpents win, they get free roam over the entire town; if the police find out, the Serpents will know who tipped them off. Veronica thinks the terms are ridiculous, but Betty agrees to them.

Outside the bar, Midge asks Betty if she’s sure about this. Betty asks for the max speed of their bikes: 150 mph. Betty then asks for the max speed of a V-Rod.

Inside the bar, Fangs pushes past Penny and goes behind the counter and into a back room. He asks “Doc” for “the supplies”. Doc asks Fangs if he wants to win or wants them to die. This is possibly a reimagining of Mad Doctor Doom, a green-skinned mad scientist from the Little Archie comics.

This was another good issue! I’m looking forward to the next one. After the story is a one-page cover gallery for this issue (I like the Sandra Lanz cover the best; it’s pictured above), another Riverdale Gazette article (dated January of 2018; this one talks about a record-high truancy rate at Riverdale High, mostly among females; Superintendent Hassle, a character from the older comics, issued the report), and the cover of issue #4.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 2

Betty-and-Veronica-Vixens-2.jpgWriter: Jamie Lee Rotante
Art: Eva Cabrera
Colors: Elaina Unger
Letters: Rachel Deering
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 2
Cover Date: February, 2018
On-Sale Date: December 20, 2017
Length: 20 pages

I’m sorry that this is late.

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

The Vixens ride to Motor Motel (such a creative name) to get a room for the night. Veronica explains to Ethel that they have to stay here, because they’re “on the lam”. Toni adds they’re outlaws. *sigh* Toni Topaz. I’m pretty sure that they added her solely because she’s on Riverdale, but, prior to that, she was the blandest Archie Comics character ever created. She’d been designed by committee and started appearing in the comics in late 2011, her gimmick being she can go toe-to-toe with Jughead when it comes to eating, but that was also Kevin’s gimmick, so there was actually nothing unique about Toni. Searching Grand Comics Database, I can find only one actual story where she played a significant role. Since then, she’s made token cameo appearances in stories (where she does little, if anything) or, more likely, undeserved cover appearances. I cannot overstate her uselessness. Anyway, let’s get back to the story.

Betty explains to Ethel that they don’t want the Serpents following them back into town. Toni adds the cops. Veronica believes her father won’t believe the charge on her credit card and will report it stolen, destroying the paper trail. I’m not sure about that.

The motel is being robbed, so the girls charge in. Toni tackles the robber to the ground. A woman wants the desk clerk, Harry, to call the cops, but Toni says no. Ethel says they’re safe, and Betty returns the money to Harry. Toni pulls the robber to his feet. Veronica tells Harry to give them any room, and they’ll take care of the robber. She tells him to book it under “Fifi Leroy”. Leroy is the name of Veronica’s younger cousin that sometimes pops up. Fifi is a name that’s sometimes used for Veronica’s pet (whenever she has one). Harry hands Veronica the key, and she promises him no more trouble. That’s when Evelyn (more on her later) clobbers the robber with a wrench, leaving Veronica embarrassed. Veronica tells the girls that it’s time to make some plans.

It turns out that this was in the present time, and now we get a flashback to two weeks earlier. Betty and Veronica go to Ambrose’s Mechanics. Ambrose says they’re closed. (He’s a character from the Little Archie comics.) Betty says they’re here to see Bubbles, a heavyset woman. I’m not sure who she is, but there was a z-list character named Bubbles McBounce (a.k.a. Bubbles McBride) in the comics, so this might be her. They go into the kitchen or break room, and Bubbles gives them sodas in glass bottles…with straws. Anyway, after a lot of talking (we learn Veronica is proficient in “Muay-Thai” (there’s actually no hyphen in it), Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, and capoeira) and Bubbles making fun of them, Bubbles refuses to join their gang but gives them some recruiting tips.

Using these tips, Veroica and Betty recruit:

*Toni (who’s in their Chem class), who they witness kicking some guy on the street after he comes on to her. Of note, Toni’s wearing headphones, a clue that this story occurs in more modern times.

*Midge, despite the facts that she can’t keep secrets, and Moose hasn’t taught her any moves (there’s a funny bit where Midge misunderstands what Betty means by that). She wants to be in charge of her own defense (instead of Moose showing up constantly); she ditches Moose on the football field and goes off with the girls.

*Ethel, who’s trying to have a romantic meal with Jughead at Pop’s, but he’s oblivious to her feelings. The girls are interested in her for her (supposed) built-up rage. Veronica can’t stand that Ethel can’t take a hint, but Ethel is Midge’s friend. Betty tries to delicately bring up the subject of the gang, but Toni just blurts it out, because she wants to get to punching people in the face. Ethel is excited and agrees to join, because her mom had suggested she join some extra-curricular activities. Ha.

At Veronica’s, they get dressed up in their new biker clothes. Ethel asks about their name, but Betty admits they haven’t really thought about it. Ethel “votes” to make them back patches once they get a name (shouldn’t she “volunteer” instead?). She brings up the fact that Evelyn Evernever is back in town. She was a shy girl in the Little Archie comics. Ethel offers to come up with schedules and make cupcakes. Toni tells her to shut up, but Midge won’t have it and mentions she heard Evelyn’s family left her. Veronica puts an end to the gossip and discovers none of the others knows how to ride a motorcycle.

The next morning, at Riverdale High School, Evelyn shows up at Veronica’s locker, startling her. She wants in the gang. Veronica isn’t sure, but Evelyn stares her down. Veronica agrees and tells her to meet them at Veronica’s place tonight at 5. Evelyn is a girl with short blonde hair, a scar across her right cheek, and a tattoo on her right arm.

That night (I guess), Veronica searches for motorcycles online and buys some. This firmly places this series in the present day, so all of these retro fashions are completely out of place.

Anyway, Betty takes the bikes to Ambrose’s shop for repairs. Toni and Midge practice boxing at Box-Gym (such a creative name). Ethel sews the Vixens patches on the back of their jackets during motherfucking Home Ec class (brilliant). Evelyn makes brass knuckles in Metal Shop or whatever (despite the fact that Betty is the one to hand them out “later“). These girls aren’t exactly being inconspicuous about this. Didn’t Mr. Weatherbee threaten expulsion in the previous issue?

At Ambrose’s shop, Bubbles tries to give the ladies basic instructions, but they (or at least Midge and Toni) suck ass.

At Spotty’s, Fangs has a map of Riverdale on the pool table. We learn his dad was in the gang as well. Stupidly, “assholes” is censored, even though “ass” (by itself) isn’t. “Shit” is also censored. Penny wants to find Betty, but Fangs tells her to get him a drink. Fangs wants to strike at 11:01, right after the town curfew. A fellow Serpent, Stitch, has picked “the perfect spot” for something. Fangs says it’ll be “the real deal” this time; he wants blood.

In the girls’ locker room, Betty is having second thoughts after yesterday’s lessons and thinks the other girls don’t get it: Toni’s all about violence, Ethel thinks it’s a sorority, and fucked if she knows Evelyn’s deal. Betty just wants to protect their town. Veronica just wants to protect all of the girls and lowers Betty’s expectations from being “Riverdale’s superhero”. Betty’s on board. During all of this, a shadowy figure is in the locker room, listening in. Oh, and “bitches” is censored. Seriously? In a Teen title? You can hear that on Riverdale. Anyway, Betty and Veronica are about to exit onto the football field and go to browse riding classes online, but Bubbles runs up and reveals the Serpents hit Ambrose’s shop, ransacked everything, stole all of their money, beat Ambrose up (he’s in the hospital), and stole Bubbles’ bike. She tells the girls that they have to do something. Veronica realizes they have to go after the Serpents sooner rather than later, whether they’re ready or not.

This was another good issue! I’m looking forward to the next one. After the story is a one-page cover gallery for this issue, another Riverdale Gazette article (dated December of 2017; this one makes parents aware of warning signs of gang activity in their kids), and the cover of issue #3.

So do we wanna talk about how Betty can be in a biker gang in this series while simultaneously being paralyzed after a car accident in Archie while simultaneously being on tour in The Archies? No? Okay.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Last Dance!

Betty-and-Veronica-278
Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Bob Smith
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letters: Jack Morelli
Original Publication: Betty and Veronica, No. 278
Cover Date: December, 2015
On-Sale Date: October 21, 2015
Length: 20 pages

I’m sorry that this is a bit late. I’ve decided to take a look at the final issue of Betty and Veronica before the (now-infamous) New Riverdale reboot. This was actually the final regular Classic Archie issue that was released in floppy format, and it came out after New Riverdale had already begun with the Archie reboot, because the multi-part story that immediately preceded this issue had suffered delays.

*looks at the release date* Why didn’t Marty snag a copy of this when he visited the future? He could have avoided a lot of problems.

There were six covers released: one for each decade from the 1950s (when the original title started) through the 1990s and a modern cover. Heh, I guess there’s nothing to distinguish the 2000s from the 2010s.

The 625 figure was arrived at by adding the total number of issues of the previous series (which was rebooted in 1987) and this series, which makes sense, but keep in mind that B&V have also headlined a 90-issue Betty and Veronica Spectacular series (1992-2009), a 6-issue Betty and Veronica Summer Fun annual series (1994-1999), and various issues of the long-running Archie Giant Series Magazine.

Veronica and Betty overhear Mr. Weatherbee telling Ms. Grundy in a hallway that they’ll have a new gym as of next year. After Betty asks, Mr. Weatherbee says, in two months, the gym will be demolished, so they can expand the cafeteria.

Some random girl with red hair and freckles shows up behind him and waves. I think this is Cricket O’Dell, a minor character whose gimmick is the ability to determine the exact amount of money that one is carrying simply by smell. Yeah, it’s as stupid as it sounds. Why she’s showing up here for one panel, I have no idea.

Anyway, Ms. Grundy adds a brand new gym will be built on the other side of the school. Veronica loves it, but Betty doesn’t, because she loves the current gym and has good memories, such as playing basketball and tennis. Veronica says “bully for you”, which no teen would actually say. She says the only sport that she took up was cheerleading. Betty reminds her of the dances; they each had their first dance with Archie here during freshman year (it was the same dance), which means they didn’t date until high school. Archie hid from them under the bleachers, and Reggie closed them up, trapping Archie inside. There was also an ’80s-themed dance (Archie tried to breakdance, got sick, and threw up on Cheryl).

Kevin randomly walks by. Betty realizes Archie was date-juggling them that night, too. Veronica says he’s sometimes a three-timer, and Betty remembers Archie’s also dating Valerie (I would have thought of Cheryl first, but the comics want to remind us that Archie/Valerie has been a thing for a while). Archie three-timed them at a dance, and he got exposed only when they looked at the wall of prom photos (which were posted during the prom). The three girls confronted Archie. Veronica angrily asks why they always forgive him. Betty laughs and says “Because he’s Archie!”, and that’s a good enough “explanation” for Veronica.

Betty asks about the upcoming Halloween masquerade ball. Ms. Grundy says that will be the last dance held here and tells the girls to make it a good one. After a bit of talking, Veronica decides to turn the tables by having them both ask Archie (before he asks both of them) and watching him squirm. Betty’s up for it.

Some time later, at Pop’s, Veronica asks Archie to the dance and then immediately kisses him on the lips (surprising Kevin), guaranteeing his acceptance. She tells him to pick her up at 8:00 PM…for a dance that’s being held “in a few weeks”.

Some time later, Betty meets Archie outside and asks him to the dance. He’s hesitant, so she kisses him on the lips, leaving him in a daze. She tells him to pick her up at 8:00 PM…for a dance that’s being held “in a few weeks”. He agrees and then realizes what he’s done.

At Pop’s, Ethel tries to get Jughead to go to the dance with her, but he’s oblivious (even though he is going for the memories of the food and drink). Some girl that I can’t identify sees Dilton lamenting his lack of dates, so she vows to “take care of that”. Outside, Kevin accepts the invitation of a guy named Ted. Veronica asks Kevin what happened to Devon (maybe a guy from a previous issue), but Kevin’s over him.

Later, Jughead asks Archie about his costume, and Archie says he needs two and explains his problem. Jughead suggests Archie go with one of them, but Archie laughs off the “ridiculous” and “insane” idea. I don’t know if I’ve said it enough, but Archie truly is an ass in the comics.

On the night of the dance, Archie drives to Betty’s house in a Cosmo the Merry Martian costume, reasoning he’ll pick up Betty early and Veronica late, because Veronica is “always late, anyway”.

Betty, wearing a Pussycat outfit, sees Archie arrive and tells Veronica, who’s dressed as Elvira. Veronica tells Betty to delay him. When Archie arrives, Betty says she won’t be ready for “at least twenty minutes” and tells him to sit and relax.

Fifteen minutes later, an “impatient” Veronica calls Archie, Betty comes downstairs, and hijinx ensue as Archie tries to cover his ass. Betty has a good laugh all of the way to the dance.

At the dance, Archie promptly ditches Betty to “use the restroom”. He runs outside, turns his Cosmo mask inside out to become Super Duck, and goes to pick up Veronica.

At Lodge Manor, Veronica is “pissed”. As Archie drives them to the school, Veronica makes him sweat by asking about Betty.

At the dance, Archie wants to go in through the other entrance, because “the air is better there”. Once inside, Archie gives her the “restroom” excuse and ditches her.

He switches back to Cosmo and returns to a “pissed” Betty. They start dancing, and she loves that he’s so nervous. Betty decides to go for punch, but Archie sees Veronica at the table and volunteers to get it. He tries to switch to Super Duck in the middle of the fucking gym, but he gets stuck.

Veronica and Betty confront him and then prepare to “fight” each other. Archie tries to intervene, trips, and falls face-first into the punch bowl. He tries to explain, but the girls reveal they played him. He’s pissed that they “humiliated” him, but they’re enjoying it. I’m with the girls. Archie would have done this even if the girls had independently asked him to the dance.

Cheryl shows up, dressed as Cleopatra, and wants to dance with Archie. Veronica angers her, but Betty tells Veronica to step away. This reminds Betty of “the first time” that they “went up against Cheryl” (entirely made up for this story). Cheryl had spilled punch on Betty’s dress. Betty had cried to Veronica. Veronica had dumped the rest of the punch from the bowl on Cheryl’s head. Betty calls Veronica her “princess in shining armor”.

Veronica brings up Betty comforting her after she realized her crush, Kevin, was gay. I don’t believe that happened in his debut issue, but she could have had a delayed reaction to the revelation.

Veronica then brings up Betty flipping Jason onto his head using her mad judo skills after he kept pursuing Veronica.

Betty and Veronica bond over the power of friendship. Archie asks them to dance, but they decline, and Veronica even suggests Archie dance with Cheryl, Ginger, or Brigitte. Archie is a bit confused but walks off.

Veronica and Betty go outside for some fresh air. As they watch the dance from outside (Archie’s dancing with both Cheryl and (I think) Ginger, the latter seemingly dressed as an alien princess or something, and Jughead is a mummy with a huge stack of hamburgers), Veronica laments the impending loss of the gym but then says they still have each other and their friends. Betty adds their memories, the future, and Archie.

As they sit on the ground and look at the crescent moon, Betty suggests being BFFs forever. They do a fist bump, and Veronica agrees, adding “Some things will never change!”

And so the long-running Betty and Veronica title, the last, straggling Classic Archieverse floppy title, came to an end. This wasn’t a bad story to go out on. It’s nothing really special, but it does re-affirm the girls’ friendship.

On the final page is an ad for the issue that we just read (an odd thing that appeared in issues around that time). The blurb explains the math of 625, name-drops Memory Lane (a stupid time-travel plot device from a few years earlier that doesn’t show up here), advertises the multiple covers, and misuses the term “panoramic”.

Below that is “breaking news” for the new B&V series from Adam Hughes. It promises “some out-of-town adventures”. Yeah, that never happened.

On the inside-front cover is a letter from Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick. He’s been at the company for a long time, and his Editor’s Notebook entries were something that I loved to read, but they’d been discontinued for years by this point. So what does he have to say? He explains the 625 math and hawks the Adam Hughes relaunch. Below the letter is yet another reminder of the Adam Hughes relaunch.

As for the Adam Hughes relaunch, we all know that crashed and burned after three issues. I read only the first two issues, and I’d given up on buying physical comics entirely by the time that issue #3 was farted out, so I never read the conclusion. Here’s the basic gist. Pop’s is being closed, and Veronica’s dad is behind it. This pits Betty and Veronica against each other. Betty is unusually passionate about Pop’s and randomly kicks her friends’ asses (I’m going from memory, but there was at least one random ass-kicking involved). The issues were narrated by Jughead’s dog, Hot Dog (of all possible fucking narrators). He kept using big words to sound intellectual and shit. At one point, a “gag” consisted of the action from two of the pages being entirely missing, and Betty and Veronica lay around in swimsuits against a white background, reading the comic and summarizing the missing pages to each other; there was also a comment about two pages being missing from a $4 comic book. From what I’ve gathered, the final issue had the girls revealing it was all for show, and they are and always will be best friends. Yeah, it totally doesn’t fit with the previous two issues, and I don’t buy the story that this was what Adam Hughes had in mind all along. This series seems doomed from the start, especially since Archie Comics had originally launched a Kickstarter campaign on (circa) May 11, 2015, to fund it, Jughead, and Life with Kevin – and then quickly canceled the campaign by May 15 after criticism (but not before they’d raised $30,000 of their $350,000 goal). I won’t be reviewing these issues in full; they don’t deserve it. Betty & Veronica: Vixens has the girls forming a biker gang, and it’s already a much better B&V title than Hughes’ shit.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – The Kisser Strikes!

Archie-143.jpg
Writer: Frank Doyle*
Pencils: Harry Lucey*
Inking: Terry Szenics*
Original Publication: Archie, No. 143
Cover Date: February, 1964
Length: 11 pages**

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

**Technically, this is a two-part story, and part two, starting on page 7, is called “Strike One Kisser!”; unusually, the page numbering is restarted.

So this is sort of an “infamous” Archie story. I happen to have scans of it, so I thought I’d review it.

Before we get into the story, here’s a fun fact, courtesy of Grand Comics Database: “When told about the story and its twist ending in his interview in the Comics Journal, a shocked Dan DeCarlo said: “I didn’t draw that, did I!?” (He didn’t; it was Harry Lucey, who was dead by the time that interview was conducted.)”

One night, while Veronica is either opening or closing the garage door (I call bullshit on this; either the Lodges would have an opener, or Veronica would get a servant to do such a menial task), either before going out or after coming home, Veronica is ambushed from behind by a “new menace”, a figure dressed in a trench coat and fedora known as the Kisser! The shadowy figure grabs Veronica, kisses her full on the lips, and takes off. Veronica falls on her ass in her driveway.

Veronica is shocked but is able to see where the perp went. She makes her way through some bushes and finds a dazed Betty sitting on the ground. Betty gets up and relates a similar experience to Veronica’s. Veronica is worried, but Betty jokes about where she was kissed and, possibly, rapists. Betty leaves, and Veronica is confused.

The next day, a bunch of random girls at school wonder who the Kisser is. Midge hopes it isn’t Moose; Moose hopes the Kisser doesn’t try kissing Midge, which upsets Midge, because she was looking forward to it. They talk for a bit more, and Midge goes down a hall by herself. Someone puts a paper bag over Midge’s head and kisses her (between panels). Midge falls on her ass and is happy to have “joined the club”.

Later, Midge tells some random girls. They love it, but Reggie and Archie don’t find it funny and wanna catch the motherfucker. They ask a random girl named Jenny to be the lure, and she accepts in order to see who the Kisser is. They’re gonna leave school after dark, and the guys are gonna jump the Kisser.

That evening, when it’s “dark enough”, Jenny and the guys leave school. The guys follow her at a distance. There’s a dumb cartoony gag where they’re both impossibly hiding behind a thin lamppost.

They see Jughead, and Reggie jumps to the conclusion that the “woman-hater” is the Kisser. Archie doesn’t buy it. They sneak behind bushes and hear kissing sounds.

They find Jenny. She asks if they got him. Reggie feels vindicated. The guys split up to find Jughead. Archie runs into a tree branch and is knocked out for a few seconds. He’s just regaining consciousness when the Kisser kisses him and runs off. Reggie arrives with Jughead, but Archie tells him to turn him loose.

The three guys debate the sex of the Kisser, whether Jughead kissed Archie, and the Kisser’s vision. Apparently, by Reggie’s reckoning, the Kisser has kissed nine girls so far. Archie says he’s gonna get to the bottom of this mystery and walks off. Reggie tells Jughead that he didn’t see any girl around. Jughead, defensive, says he didn’t kiss Archie.

The next day (I guess), at Riverdale High School, three random girls debate the new information. Reggie overhears and theorizes Archie made up the story about being kissed to throw off suspicion, because he’s the Kisser. The girls decide to be easy targets for Archie to see whether he’s the Kisser or not. Betty overhears this and is worried.

Some time later, one of the girls walks into Archie’s path on the sidewalk, trips, and is caught by him. He drops her in the bushes and runs away. The other two girls are waiting for him, no matter where he runs. He runs to Betty for help in finding a place to hide. She leads him into the woods. Exhausted, Archie lies on the ground and soon falls asleep. Betty checks to make sure no one’s around, and then she kisses Archie on the lips.

The three girls show up. As it turns out, they were working with Archie, because he had theorized to them that Betty was the Kisser. Betty is surprised Archie knew. Archie says this trap was really for her. He explains Betty kissed girls just to throw everybody off her trail; she wanted to create a mystery that no one could solve.

Betty tells a smug, self-satisfied Archie that it almost worked, but he was too clever for her. For discovering the identity of the Kisser, Betty sweeps Archie off his feet (and out of his shoes) and gives him a big kiss, which surprises the three girls.

This story was, um, something. It’s the first time that lesbian kisses have occurred in an Archie story, albeit without lip-on-lip contact being shown. It makes no sense that Archie was able to figure out that Betty was the Kisser, though. So Betty’s motive in kissing eight girls was…to create a mystery that no one could solve? Does Archie know something about Betty that would lead him to this conclusion? Is she a mystery writer? Is she bisexual? I don’t get it. Still, this was pretty daring for a children’s comic story from the 1960s.

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Ice Creamed

AGSM-588
Writer: Frank Doyle
Pencils: Dan DeCarlo, Jr.
Inking: Jim DeCarlo
Original Publication: Archie Giant Series Magazine, No. 588
Cover Date: October, 1988
Length: 6 pages

I’m sorry that this is late. I’d been busy with other things. See the end of the review for an explanation.

During a hot summer, the gang gathers in the park. Betty and Veronica complain about the heat. Even a nearby dog is passing out from heat stroke. Naturally, Betty is barefoot and standing on the scorching pavement, and that’s okay. Veronica claims she “glows” instead of “sweats”, but she’s not fooling anyone. Also, the writer she puts her last name in quotes. I think that’s meant to show stress, but it’s incorrect.

Anyway, Veronica has the idea to go to the mall for the air conditioning and indoor ice rink. Betty’s all for it and suggests spending the day, shopping, and beating the heat, but Archie and Jughead aren’t up for it. The girls leave in a hurry.

Jughead grudgingly admits it was a good idea. Archie says they’ll go after lunch, so they won’t have to pay for the girls’ lunches. Jughead claims that would never occur to him. Archie says Ronnie’s got some old-fashioned ideas, and he’s “short on bread”. What teen called money “bread” in 1988?

Before we move on, I need to comment on Jughead’s hat. It’s not the typical crown in this story. He’s wearing a regular grey hat with the front and back of the brim turned up. He still has the typical two pins on it (though the artist forgot about them after the second page). I noticed it and thought it was a fun variant on the typical hat.

Later, at the mall, after a “great lunch”, Betty’s eager to ice-skate. She’s still walking around barefoot, which I’m sure is a violation of the mall’s policy. Veronica calls Betty “Cooper”, which is odd.

Anyway, the girls suck at ice-skating, being no better than the last time that they’d tried it, and they land on their asses. A girl skates by and says they can flatten them by dieting, which is rude as fuck. It turns out that the girl is the rink’s skating instructor, and she continues to insult the girls.

The guys show up. Veronica figured they’d show up after lunch. Archie puts on skates, but Jughead decides to sit it out.

Archie’s a klutz. The instructor eagerly rushes over to catch him, letting go of the girls. She wasn’t seen in the previous panel with the girls, and she definitely wasn’t holding on to Veronica. Betty had her right hand on Veronica’s back. Maybe the instructor was holding on to Betty from off the right side of the panel? Really odd. Anyway, the girls fall on their asses again and are pissed.

The instructor cozies up to “cute and clumsy”, which Archie seems a bit offended by. The instructor wants “lover” to hold her really tight, and she’ll do likewise. Veronica’s pissed at the “man-eater” for dumping them for Archie (yeah, that’s how she phrases it). I should mention Betty has a couple skating jokes in this scene.

Jughead tells the girls that they’re wearing the skates on the wrong part of their anatomy, which irritates Veronica. Betty looks at him like “What the fuck?” I’m with Betty. Seriously, what’s Jughead on about?

Anyway, Jughead, wearing skates, gets in the rink to “handle” the situation. Veronica tells him to get the fuck out. Jughead skates circles around the instructor and Archie, and the instructor falls on her face. The big-shot rink owner (an older, balding man) shows up for one panel to suggest a skating lesson for “Ms. Snidley”, because Jughead made her look like a “rank amateur”. She’s nervous and/or embarrassed.

Veronica and Betty hug Jughead. Veronica kisses him on the cheek and professes her love for him. Betty tells him that he made her day.

Later, at Pop’s, Veronica serves “Juggie, baby” an ice cream soda and (blue) burgers and promises him anything that he wants – on them. Betty, rubbing her aching ass, suggests “luv” consider this to be a kind of standing ovation. She still isn’t wearing any goddamn shoes or socks, which is not only unsanitary but also unsafe.

Archie is sitting in the booth, too, ignored. At the counter, Pop and a random customer watch the scene in confusion. I’m with them.

So…what the fuck was that? A fun slice-of-life story ended with Jughead demonstrating a previously hidden talent for ice-skating (it’s funny, because he’s a lazy-ass motherfucker that constantly eats, get it?) in order to show up the boyfriend-stealing skating instructor. What’s the story behind that? Has Jughead been at this rink before and witnessed her behavior, and that’s why he decided to sit it out at first, because he knew what would happen and wanted to surprise everyone?

And why is Archie tagging along for the congratulatory feast at Pop’s? And why are Riverdale’s businesses so lax in their footwear policies?

The inside-back cover has a “Dear Betty & Veronica” advice column.

For the past four months, I’d been working on a fanfic based on Sabrina the Teenage Witch called “Perfect Trust”. It’s a continuation of the 1996-2003 TV series and basically functions as season 8. It’s a Sabrina/Roxie romance story. It’s pretty long, but, if it’s something that you might be interested in, you can read it here or here. Also, you can check out my Sabrina’s Secret Life fanfic, “Lightning in the Dark”, here or here.

That’s it for 2017. Have a Happy New Year. Tune in next Wednesday!