Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review #32: Archie is Everything

Everything's Archie #43
Writer: various
Artist: various
Published: Archie Music Corporation, 1975

Sweet Jesus. I was wondering when I would get to Archie and the gang. That time is now.

Archie was a staple of my childhood. Often, at the end of a long shopping expedition [single mom + four kids = an expedition] an Archie's Double Digest or something of that ilk would be purchased from the rack of crappy tabloids and magazines beside the checkout and promptly tossed to the pack of feral children of which I was a part.  

Since his debut in Pep Comics in 1941, Archie's popularity led to his own series, which in turn led to many, many other titles and characters from the series getting spinoffs of their own, like Betty, Veronica, Jughead and even that dick, Reggie. However, this massive amount of growth could not be maintained, and many titles of old have now fallen by the wayside and were canceled. Everything's Archie was one such title. Originally intended be a promotional vehicle for the virtual band, The Archies, the comic often featured the fictional exploits of said band, which explains the fact that it was published by “Archie Music Corporation” rather than Archie Comic Publications. 

Anyway, this issue of Everything's Archie [which is, I'm assuming, an abbreviation of Everything is Archie and not the possessive form of everything's, which would indicate that Archie belongs to everything, which actually makes more sense the more that I think about it, because does Archie not belong to all of us? But if we go with the first interpretation, that itself can have two different meanings: firstly, that everything and Archie are one and the same, making Archie some kind of god-like, omnipresent being; or secondly, that “Archie” is being used as some kind of adjective, like “groovy”, to describe the state of everything. These would, of course, beg the respective following questions: Why do my prayers to Archie remain unanswered? And why did that slang never catch on? That's not archie. Not archie at all. Alas, I digress...] has four short stories. Let's take a look!

Archie in “Girl Whirl”

Archie and the guys on Riverdale High's baseball team take on a girl's team from Centerville for a charity event. Archie and his fellow sexists white males [no Chuck in this one!] laugh at the females. Ha ha ha! Women playing baseball! It's hard not to laugh. “Don't slip on any bobby pins!” cracks Reggie. Oh snap! I think he is overestimating the slipperiness of bobby pins. 

But the joke's on those asshats, because these Centerville ladies kick ass! They beat the Riverdale boys 14 to nil. I guess they really learned a valuable lesson about gender equality. Oh, no, wait, nevermind. Betty and Veronica decide that they need to perpetuate the stereotypes that were just proven false in order to reinstill the guys' faith in themselves, thus undermining everything that just happened! Yaaay!

Archie reflects on life and the choices that led to this moment

Archie in “Weigh Out Scene”

Sexism defeated? Alright, next up is weight discrimination! Here we see a festively plump young man named Stanley being harassed by Archie, Reggie and Jughead [who, by all rights, should be morbidly obese from overeating]. Stanley takes their verbal abuse because as he says “if I got hurt feelings, I wouldn’t have any friends!” 

I also fall asleep laughing about all the dickish things I've done

That night, however, Archie dreams that he is ginormously fat, and experiences what it is like to be a victim of weight discrimination. As he says to Reg and Jug later, “believe me, it was a bad scene”. So the guys decide to make Stan their true friend instead of just someone to poke fun at... and he is never heard from again in any Archie comics. 

Archie in “Outshined”

Mr. Lodge [Veronica's father] has a problem: his car won't start! But what about the meeting with that new business client this afternoon? “I have to get that new account!” exclaims Mr. Lodge, giving us the generic motivation for this plot [how exactly does Mr. Lodge make his millions, anyway? Also, doesn't a millionaire have more than one car?].

Archie and Reggie happen to be hanging out with Veronica at the Lodge mansion and Archie offers to replace the carburetor so that Mr. Lodge can meet his client in time. When Archie leaves to pick up a carburetor, Reggie decides to sabotage his efforts in order to make Archie look like a fool in front of Veronica. He steals the battery out of the car, forcing Archie to lend Mr. Lodge his signature, beat-up jalopy. Turns out, the client figured that Lodge was super-frugal because he was driving a crappy old car, and he got the account! Huzzah!

he said "sex" in a children's comic book!

Meanwhile, Reggie gets physically assaulted by the Lodge's butler. 

Archie in “Born Free”

Archie, being the hard-working young man that he is, has cleaned out an elderly man's garage, for which he has been awarded $20 [apparently around $80 today]. He proudly declares his intention to take Veronica for milkshakes and finally not look like a cheapskate.  He meets up with his lady, only to discover that she needs to go pick up a new outfit. Fair enough! But, what is this? She forgot her credit card and must take Archie's hard-earned cash to buy her clothes. With the leftover change, Veronica buys drinks for herself and Archie, whilst Moose, Midge and Ethel pass judgment in the background. Tsk tsk. 

stick up for yourself, Poindexter!

Now, I can't really judge Archie comics by the standards that I usually apply to a comic, as the art [and thus the artist] is deliberately under-emphasized and has to fit a generic, recognizable mold. It reminds me of the Simpsons comics in that way. The writing is bland and inoffensive in order to perpetuate a wholesome and child-friendly image. It does not remind me of the Simpsons comics in that way. Anyway, I'm not sure if this is still the case, or if this is just a relic of the times, but the writers and artists aren't even named at all. Weird. 

The most striking thing about Everything's Archie #43 has to be that the band, The Archies, does not appear once [save a tiny, tiny picture on the cover]. Hm. So a comic series that was created to promote a fictional band fails to even feature said band at all. No wonder this shit was canceled. 

But nostalgia is powerful, and I will always hold a special place in my heart for Archie and the gang from Riverdale. Reading these comics takes me back to a simpler time. 


  1. My nephew got a whole set of Archie comics from the 70s on DVD-ROM last year as a gift. He didn't seem to excited about it.

  2. I would gladly take it off of his hands. Kids these days just have no appreciation for the classics.