Archie comics have been around for 70 years because of fun storytelling and likable characters. Plus, the company really knows how to adapt well to the changing times. Unless some Children of Men
-style shit happens, there's always going to be a new generation that wants to read comics about dating and friends. The various Archie Americana Series
books illustrate how the Riverdale gang has adjusted to societal and social shifts across the decades, and Archie Comics have committed themselves to being as inclusive and non-discriminatory as possible -- gaining new fans along the way.
But the company's core approach to business was turned on its head recently when Michael Uslan gave the Archie world a true game changer by resolving the eternal love triangle between Archie, Betty and Veronica in his Archie Marries
storyline. The stunt was a huge success, and allowed readers to find out what would happen if Archie wed both of the main women in his life. And so the cliché of what happens after happily ever after was trotted out, resulting in Life with Archie: The Married Life
. When the title debuted last year with stories by Michael Uslan (Paul Kupperberg has since taken the writing reins), it offered readers a magazine-styled format that featured two complete stories per issue -- one chronicling the aftermath of Archie's nuptials to Betty and the other one where he and Veronica wed. In both timelines the characters are crippled by career woes, dysfunctional relationships and other real life problems.
The magazine turned out to be something completely unexpected given the company's love of safe, and as some would have it, milquetoast stories. It turned out to be edgy. Well, edgy for Archie anyways (at times the thing seems like the comic equivalent of that Riverdale
fan trailer that was recently released). Even though only eight issues have been released at the time of this writing, it seemed right to focus on the nuttiest moments that have happened so far. If you're a longtime Archie fan, this shit will blow your mind
10) Moose Is the Angriest Mayor in Riverdale History
Given that Big Moose's primary personality traits are dimness and a nasty temper, politics are an ideal fit. So after Midge dumps his ass due to his anger issues that are left sadly ambiguous, he rebounds quickly by taking up with a blind yoga instructor who throws around New Age-isms about how he should get in touch with his "Inner Duke" and become his best self. Before you can say Alicia Masters, he starts a mayoral campaign that yields success after his opponent is revealed to be as crooked as Pop Tate's moustache. As of now in the book, Moose is still settling into his new position. But here's hoping that the writers decides to make Moose's reign as mayor as packed with scandal and Daily Show
-style political commentary as possible. So will Moose become the JFK of Riverdale or the R. Budd Dwyer? I suppose either is possible at this point, so keep on reading.
9) Archie and Ambrose Reunite
Perhaps the most charming aspect of Life with Archie
is a true respect for Archie Comics' 70-year-history. The best example of this is how Michael Uslan resurrected Ambrose Pipps, a regular from the Little Archie
books who, for the most part, has been absent from Archie lore for decades. That the writers continue to develop Ambrose in both the Archie Loves Betty and Archie Loves Veronica portions of the comic shows a true commitment to the character that goes above and beyond the usual fan-wanking. Slowly, we are learning about how Ambrose's childhood sucked once he left Riverdale. He is growing from a cipher to a decent guy whose love for his old friends has never diminished. Too bad he's an absolute shit businessman. Take a look:
Wanting to give Archie his shot at making it as a singer/songwriter, Ambrose decides to add a performance space to his New York City restaurant. Unfortunately, he and Archie's dreams of success don't override realities like the necessity of obtaining permits and obeying zoning laws. (As the above panel shows, even the comic he appears in is mocking his lack of business acumen). Nevertheless, it's nice to see Ambrose back -- even if he is doomed to bankruptcy. Now if only Eye-da would make her return...
8) Cheryl Blossom is Destined for the Casting Couch
In the debut issue of Life with Archie
, Cheryl Blossom (the redhead who threw a sexy monkey wrench into the Betty/Veronica/Archie love triangle) briefly turns up to bullshit over the phone with Betty about her experiences in Hollywood. She brags about her successful modeling/acting career before mentioning that she is dating "a talent agent, a baseball player and a famous playwright all at once." As a lovesick Betty swoons at what she perceives to be a dream life, the truth is revealed: Cheryl is stuck working at a shitty waitress job. She always seemed a bit loose, so maybe the thing about dating the three guys was actually true. However, it is more likely that Cheryl's delusion bubble will eventually burst in a bit of "it's très jolie Coco" melodrama and result in her inevitable descent into porn/Charlie Sheen's bedroom. Or maybe Uslan just included her in the first issue to illustrate that, no matter how insignificant, every Archie character will be subject to the writing staff's sadistic whims.
7) Big Ethel Got Hot
In Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again
, a running joke had Jughead avoiding his longtime suitor Big Ethel only to discover that she has gotten hot since high school ended. Oddly enough, Life with Archie
draws inspiration from this largely forgotten telefilm -- both with its portrayal of Mr. Lodge (see below) and how Ethel is now a bit of a catch. Unfortunately, her newfound good looks (which I'm betting are going to be eventually revealed as the result of plastic surgery and a pretty severe case of bulimia) aren't enough to overcome her low self-esteem. The comic has her involved with Fred Mirth, a shitty business acquaintance of Archie's who is using her for some nefarious purpose that hasn't come to light as of yet. Poor Ethel, first she spends her teen years pining away for a gay man, now this douche. For the record, my money is on her storyline ending in a vodka-fueled murder/suicide.
6) Reggie Has Become the Peaked-in-High-School Loser We Always Knew He Would Be
In both of the parallel worlds featured in Life with Archie
, Reggie is, to paraphrase a line from Scrooged
, having problems making his miracle happen. He is a twentysomething failure who can't quite seem to find his place in the world. He struggles with his career, is subjected to making subtle fat jokes like the ones you see above (seriously, does Brigitte Reilly know about this panel?) and then this happens:
Yep. Reggie is arrested. Not for statutory rape as you would expect either. Instead, Reggie is the patsy for crimes related to the increasingly sinister Mr. Lodge. And by giving the character something real adversity to face, the writers have done the impossible -- they have humanized Reggie. Readers sympathize with him and understand where he is coming from. Sure, he's been a complete dick in the past. But Life with Archie
's Reggie is in both storylines a selfless guy who realizes that his best years may be behind him. This all sounds a bit grandiose, but the writing staff's attempts to give Reggie and the other characters some real depth in these stories is fascinating. If a bit completely schizophrenic and uncharacteristic. Which leads us to...
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