Comics – Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 9

Betty-and-Veronica-Vixens-9.jpgWriter: Jamie Lee Rotante
Art: Eva Cabrera
Colors: Elaina Unger (pages 1-14), Matt Herms (pages 15-20*)
Letters: Rachel Deering
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 9
Cover Date: October, 2018
On-Sale Date: August 22, 2018
Length: 19 pages*

*Think about that.

Before the story, there’s a recap of the previous issue on the credits page. It seems to settle Cheryl’s status as an official Vixen.

The original artist, Eva Cabrera, has returned to the series. I’m not sure what happened. Sanya Anwar was credited as the artist in the solicitation. Her name even appeared in the credits at the top of the cover. However, the cover ended up being her only contribution to this issue. The credits on the cover of the released issue have been updated to remove Anwar and credit Cabrera and Herms.

I recently noticed an offhand comment in Archie Comics’ announcement of the upcoming Archie and Betty & Veronica titles that referred to Vixens as an “alternate universe” series. I take issue with this, because there’s really nothing AU about this title. They’re still in high school; they’re just in a biker gang on the side. It’s really just another case of the New Riverdale titles having no inter-title continuity.

Anyway, let’s get into the current issue:

As the Vixens ride, Betty declares “It’s now or never.” She asks Penny and Bubbles if they’re ready. Penny says she is and guesses Doc isn’t keeping the women in his usual base of operations, because it’s too obvious. They try to think like him. Penny has an idea and tells the others to follow her. Betty is unable to get a hold of Veronica.

Veronica flops down on her bed and watches a news report about Cheryl’s disappearance, which also covers her father. As Hermione silently looks in on her, Veronica wonders how it came to this. A couple notes about this scene: Riverdale seemingly has its own local newscast, which indicates it’s large enough to warrant it. Even my entire county doesn’t have its own local newscast. Also, there’s a “13:01” notice on the news ticker, seemingly indicating the time, but why is it in military time? Also, that’s 1:01 PM, but it’s definitely currently nighttime.

Veronica has a series of flashbacks to an unspecified time in the past. Her hair is shoulder-length. There’s a bake sale to raise money to preserve the old General Pickens statue. There are cameos from Moose and Jughead. Jughead’s eating pies, cutting into the potential revenue. Veronica, insisting Lodges innovate and delegate instead of make or sell, places a call to Francois (a chef, I guess), who brings by a truck of free snacks. She then writes Betty a check to cover the cost of preserving the statue.

Some time later, Betty is involved in a protest to save Fox Forest from being torn down by “some mogul” looking to build high-rise apartments. Betty has a nostalgia for the swimming hole, old memories, and their childhoods. Veronica sees a sign and realizes her dad is behind it, so she calls him and suggests he build where the old Pickens statue is instead (wow…). He agrees. When Betty notices the development sign being removed and asks what’s going on, Veronica says she “just pulled some strings”, delighting Betty. Something tells me that she won’t stay delighted for long, but we don’t get to see that.

We then get two panels of flashbacks to issue #7 and one to issue #8, but they don’t exactly match up.

Back in the present, as Veronica listens to her dad talk on the news about teaming up with Cliff Blossom and offering pay a lot of money for info on Cheryl’s whereabouts, she picks up her cell phone (which was confiscated by her father in the previous issue but already back in her room in this issue) off her night stand and throws it at the TV screen, shattering the latter.

A rock is thrown into the Serpents’ RV (wherever it is). Eve moves to kicks Fangs’ ass. Another Serpent promises no more trouble. Penny wants their help in taking Doc down.

It sounds good to the Serpents. With the aid of a kinda shitty map, Fangs gives them info on Doc’s operations. Betty sends Toni, Evelyn, and Bubbles to “what’s left of” the abandoned warehouse in Midvale (“Yeah, um, pay no attention to any charred corpses that may or may not be there”) and Penny, Sassy, and Midge to Greendale to talk to the locals. She wants Ethel and Pepper to stick with her. Doc and Ang are sitting in Doc’s car, parked outside the RV (how does no one notice this?!). Doc has Ang write everything down.

At Blossom Manor, Mr. Williams is writing down notes about Cheryl, including “an unknown 5K purchase” (her bike, no doubt). He tries to assure Penelope and Clifford. He then calls Mr. Lodge with his findings. Veronica passes by his den and overhears. She confronts her father, believing it’s bullshit that Cheryl is of more importance than Abbey, Sue, and any other potential victims. Mr. Lodge tells her to watch her mouth. By the way, Veronica’s utterance of “bullshit” is cut off by Mr. Lodge, but that’s no surprise at this point.

In Midvale, Toni, Bubbles, and Evelyn rough up Doc’s weapons dealers, who give up the delivery location: an abandoned cabin near Crystal Lake. Toni phones in the info. One of the guys calls, presumably, Doc to let him know, but Eve kicks him, knocking the cell phone from his hand.

In Greendale, Penny and Midge get info out of a guy outside Bananas’ Bar, and Sassy breaks into his van and frees Sue and Abbey.

Back at Lodge Manor, as if no time has passed, Veronica and her dad continue arguing. Veronica wants to find all of the missing girls. Mr. Lodge says it’s not her job. She agrees but insists it’s her duty as a decent person to help the forgotten. Hermione interrupts and returns Veronica’s cell phone to her (it looks like the screen is cracked). Hiram starts to ask why she returned it to Veronica, but Veronica begs her father to let her help her girls, saying she owes all of them. He allows her to do what she wants but also kicks her out of the house.

At the cabin, Doc and Ang watch the Vixens arrive “right on target” at “almost midnight”. The girls prepare to storm the place. There’s a wonderful split-screen, full-page panel of Veronica and Betty, each saying “…I won’t.” (Veronica won’t come back, and Betty won’t back down or hesitate.)

Penny, Midge, Sassy, and Sue arrive. They’d dropped off Abbey at a local woman’s shelter. Betty congratulates the Sassy Thrashers and wants the Vixens to take it from here, but the Thrashers want to stay. Betty has the Thrashers stand guard while the Vixens storm the cabin. Betty asks where Evelyn is. Pepper says they’ll keep an eye out. The Vixens enter the cabin. The door slams shut.

It’s Doc and Ang. Ang has a knife. Doc speechifies. Toni asks Ang why she’s doing this. Doc speechifies about the futility of it all. Doc has a remote detonator to blow up the cabin. It’s set on a one-minute timer. He says there’s only one exit, and only he knows where it is. He’s about to activate the timer.

Suddenly, Cheryl jumps down from the ceiling, kicks Doc to the floor, and plunges a knife (tied to her boot) into the back of his neck! Betty tells Cheryl of the detonator. Ang warns the girls. Veronica crashes her bike through a wall. Betty’s delighted to see her. Ang speechifies at Doc. Doc is about to call her “a worthless piece of shit”, but Ang pulls Cheryl’s knife from his neck and viciously stabs him in the back. He cries out in pain.

The girls escape the cabin, and it blows up. As the cops arrive, Cheryl says she thought she was doing the right thing by getting herself kidnapped (so that was deliberate? it sure didn’t look like it), but she admits she was wrong. Eve, sitting behind the wheel, decides they’ll take ownership of Doc’s car to get away from the cops. So…did she seriously just sit in the car this whole time?

Eve, Sue, Toni, and Ang take Doc’s car, and the others ride bikes. They stop by a cliff and look over it. Midge says they did it. Veronica says they didn’t do enough. Betty asks what happened with her dad. Veronica is sorrowful but resolute. Toni asks if they should go back. Veronica is against it, saying they’ll go forward and adding they can’t go back to Riverdale.

This was another good issue! I’m looking forward to the next one. The caption teases more adventures awaiting the Vixens on the open road…in the final damn issue of the series.

After the story is a one-page cover gallery for this issue and another Riverdale Gazette article (dated August of 2018); this one features two roller derby teams, Steel City Roller Derby of Pittsburgh and Savannah Derby Devils of Savanna. Jamie Lee Rotante says more teams will appear next time. She’s sad to say goodbye but promises the final issue “will be loaded with lots of fun, adventure and even some special cameos”. There’s an ad for the Vixens Volume One trade paperback. Finally, there’s the cover of Betty & Veronica: Vixens #10, which has Betty, Veronica, Midge, Ethel, Cheryl, and Toni lying on the grass and relaxing. Amusingly, Betty has a bandage on her face but is cheerful enough to give a V-for-victory sign and drink an iced coffee.

Tune in next Wednesday!


Comics – It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…

Writer: Will Ewing
Pencils: Alitha Martinez
Inks: Bob Smith
Colors: Andre Szymanowicz with Thomas Chu
Letters: Janice Chiang
Original Publication: Riverdale One-Shot
Cover Date: April, 2017
On-Sale Date: March 1, 2017
Length: 10 pages

I’m sorry that this is so late.

This is the final story in this issue, which serves as a sort of prequel to the first episode.

This story is narrated by Jughead, who narrates the episodes anyway. One night, at Pop’s, Jughead’s sitting in a booth and staring at his laptop. Pop asks if he can get him anything. Jughead orders another cheeseburger. Pop asks him what he’s doing. Jughead’s writing, well, waiting for inspiration to strike. He changes his order to a double cheeseburger.

Jughead actually wrote “It was a dark and stormy night.” He’s stuck after that. He then starts typing “ALL WORK AND NO PLAY” like in The Shining. Pop gets to have a bit of fun with that by coming up behind Jughead and exclaiming “Heeeere’s…Poppy!” Jughead isn’t amused. Pop observes Jughead really loves burgers. Privately, Jughead admits he loves eating them but not so much serving them.

Betty’s in LA. Reggie’s playing golf at a country club (um, okay; I don’t really picture Reggie as a golf guy; he’s probably doing it for connections). Jughead spends his days at Pop’s and his nights working at the Starlight Drive-In. He has to check that nobody sneaks in for free. That’s what he used to do, growing up, so he usually lets it slide. He hates working the concession stand. His favorite part is running the projector. Jughead gets to pick the movies. His schedule is: Mondays: noir, Tuesdays: horror, Wednesdays: westerns, Thursdays: screwball comedies, Fridays: double features, Saturdays: romance (because date night). Amusingly, a lot of the film characters shown look like Jughead or his friends. Anyway, on Sundays, Jughead cleans up. He has to put up with the Southside Serpents ragging on him.

He starts thinking about writing his own movie, heavily based on his friendship with Archie. We learn Archie dated Midge at one point in freshman year, and he went over to her house when she informed him that her parents were working late. Yeah, they totally fucked.

Back in the present, Archie visits Jughead at Pop’s while picking up food and mentions his summer job and wanting to write poetry. After Jughead nearly makes fun of him, Archie asks what he’s doing on the fourth. Jughead has the day off and suggests the road trip, and you can tell this is supposed to be the same scene from Archie’s story, except the conversation and the guys’ clothes don’t exactly match. Archie picks up his order and then tells Jughead to come by his house at four.

On July 4, Fred answers the door and is confused by Jughead’s appearance, saying Archie left this morning for the road trip. Jughead covers for Archie. After texting Archie every so often for hours (I’d like to point out that Jughead arrived around 46 minutes late) and going to the gazebo and Pop’s, Archie calls off the trip, saying something came up.

Jughead goes to the drive-in and watches Stand By Me that night. A Serpent comes by and offers to let Jughead ride with them up into the hills, but Jughead declines. We get a bit of dialogue from the movie, and I’d like to point out that “shit” is completely uncensored, so what’s the big deal in all of the other cases? Anyway, Jughead falls asleep and wakes up the next morning. He has his usual breakfast at Pop’s: coffee and a cheeseburger. Sheriff Keller comes in for coffee. Pop senses something’s going on (um, okay). Keller informs him that Jason Blossom drowned last night, and he’s on his way down to Sweetwater River. This shocks Jughead.

Then Jughead lets us know the same stuff from the beginning of the first episode. We learn Sweetwater River is connected to the Hudson. Also, Jughead seems suspicious of Archie’s absence from the crime scene in the aftermath.

Jughead’s typing away on his laptop when Fred and Archie come into Pop’s. Fred still thinks they were in Centerville on July 4. Archie thanks Jughead for covering for him. Jughead wants to know where Archie was, but Archie’s vague about it, and Jughead’s had enough of that shit. Archie brushes it off and thinks they’re still buddies. Jughead avoids him and spends the rest of the summer writing about Jason.

This was a pretty good story. I’m not a Jughead fan; he’s my least-favorite character. Still, this was okay. I just wish all of the stories in this one-shot didn’t contradict each other and/or the first episode in small details.

The next page advertises the ongoing series. The page after that is the cover gallery.

Tune in on Wednesday for more biker action!

Comics – Fall from Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 8

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

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

The series has another new artist, Sanya Anwar.

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

Anyway, let’s get into the current issue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Summer Nights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Sweetwater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tune in next Wednesday!

Comics – Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 7

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

*Think about that.

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

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

Anyway, let’s get into the current issue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tune in next Wednesday!