Riverdale #122 – Are Comics Evil

Riverdale – how did you know?  In the 1960s, my mom refused to buy us comics because it was not “educational” enough.  Well, that didn’t stop my courtesy “brother,” Tony, from sneaking them to me.  I got Superman, Supergirl and some Batman.  Once he snuck an Archie’s comic in with them.  Mom found them and accused my dad of giving them to my sister and me but Tony “fessed up.”  Mom checked the Archie and said:  “Well, it’s not as bad as the others.”  My knowledge of Riverdale had begun.

With Riverdale centering around “Pep Comics” (from which Archie came), I thought this would be a good opening.  I have an English BA now that focused on the 14th, 15th, 16th centuries and the 1960s thus the notes I often make.  Tonight, I am interested in how Principal Featherhead will stop comics from being read.  It would be like trying to stop arcade/computer games on the phone/computer.  So with four stories to be told, let’s get started.

General Set-Up

Tonight, remember Veronica got him out of jail so we now have Verhead (whatever).  Featherhead, Clyde Blossom, and the scary school counsellor are talking about comics.  They don’t want Kline included.  Could “Pep Comics” be where this “bend to justice” happens and are theses three behind the Mugs case.  In their view,  the comics are about tyranny and violence.  Are we seeing the true villians of the piece with men with money and wanting to control young minds.  Will they do anything that creates a problem? 

Meanwhile, Jughead meets with the editor of Pep magazine.  The editor is impressed by the stories and wants him to write four stories overnight.  The more I think about this, the more I see that the adults who are in control are worried about the students learning what the world is like.  Definitely a illustration of making the world “bend toward justice.”

Jughead looks at the suggestions and decides to set up a high school narrator in the form of a creepy custodian.  Ronnie has stopped by and likes the idea of using the high school.  Jughead has no time to go out for dinner because he has to write an entire issue by the morning.  While they talk of using a teacher, the creepy custodian is how they go.  Jughead’s story ideas will include all his friends from the sex party.  Note:  There was no way to get the stories titles, so after the first they will be listed Story Two, Three and Four with an interlude between each.

Keep Your Head in the Game

Story one introduces the narrator, a creepy janitor.  At midnight, the school becomes a house of horrors.  Dilton seems to be featured in the first one.  He’s not very athletic and can’t make a basket.  Julian Blossom is the bully and punishes Dilly for not being able to score.  He calls Dilly a “dead man” who should settle for water boy.  Justin shoves Dilly into a locker which Archie doesn’t like.  Archie, though, doesn’t stop Justin or get Dilly out. 

While in the locker, Dilly becomes psychotic.  When the lock is gone the next morning, Dilly leaves and gets an axe.  He returns and waits for his team and revenge.  The next day, the coach finds Dilton making baskets. The coach finds Julian’s head at his feet.  Looking at the bench, Dilly has put his teammates (sans heads) there and Archie’s head is the next to be used as a ball.  And story one is done.


Jughead says comics can be over the top to Ronnie.  He explains that people have to be punished when they do the wrong thing.  Hey Jughead!  How does Dilly get punished?

Story Two

The second story features Archie.  His car has a flat and he ends up at the Blossom mansion.  Granny tells him she will call the garage and Archie reminds her it is closed.  She’ll allow him to stay the night.  After a cup of tea, Granny takes him to his room.  Archie has seen Cheryl’s portrait and Granny tells him that it is of her granddaughter.  She’s the reason he must lock his door at night and not leave the room.  Cheryl has a craving for sex and Granny wants to protect Archie.  (Yeah right, I smell a set-up.) 

That night, Archie unlocks his door and in comes Cheryl.  They have a wonderful night of heavy petting (or so he tells her granny).  Granny admits that Archie was set-up.  She put the nails in the road.  She did it for Cheryl who is lonely.  She had gone on a trip to a jungle and got exposed to an incurable leprosy.  It’s highly contagious to the young and since Archie was with her, he’s exposed also.  Cheryl comes up, heavily veiled, and tells Archie they will always be together.  Archie looks shocked as we fade to black.


For story three, Jughead and Ronnie talk about high school again.  Jughead thinks that the story with Cheryl represents that curiosity kills the cat (even with heavy petting).  Ronnie suggests that God created high school so boys can chase girls which sets up the next story about Betty.

Story Three

This story has Betty wanting boys to lust after her.  She’s tired of being seen as the nice girl that boys think is to pure to touch and girls envy.  She goes to a beauty shop (and think hairdresser is like John Travolta’s character in Hair Spray) and the hairdresser has a new style that she will use on Betty.  The style is the beehive and the stylist will use Betty’s hair, extensions, tease it, and wind it up so it looks like a beehive.  The problem is that Betty can’t ever wash it and must use a special hairspray at all times.  Of course, Betty jumps at the opportunity to get the jump on the other girls and promises to use the hairspray religiously. 

The next day, Betty arrives with her new hair style.  The boys are crazy for it and the girls are envious.  Archie and Julian vie for her attention and Cheryl and Ronnie show their jealousy in the girls’ bathroom.  Betty continually sprays her hair.  She even sprays the hair spray in Archie’s face but he isn’t deterred. 

Later, a very bad thing happens.  Archie takes Betty on a date to Pop’s.  He compliments her hair and Pop tells him that Betty has always been special.  Archie invites her to dance and they do but suddenly Betty gets dizzy and falls to the floor vomiting.  She dies at Pop’s.  When the medical examiner starts to saw through her hair, he finds the answer to the question.  The beehive hair style was an actual beehive.  The bees had burrowed into her brain and hatched eggs.  He runs out as we see the bees coming out of Betty’s hair and down on her face.  Kudos to Lili Reinhart if she actually let the bees on her face.


Ronnie and Jughead are talking about wh at the plot should be for the final comic.  Ronnie has a suggestion:  a love story with romance.  Jughead jumps on it and sets up a love triangle with the girls in charge.  And of course, it features, Archie, Betty and Ronnie – the original love triangle of Archie comics. 

Story Four

Again, the custodian tells the story and tells us that Archie is a good boy but has trouble with the simple life.  He’s studying triangles and doesn’t seem to understand you can’t have both.  He can’t choose between Betty (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and Ronnie (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday).  By Sunday, Archie is tired and rests.  Rest of the week, he’s hyped up on coffee.

Archie doesn’t realize that the girls are aware of what he is doing.  They each want him for their own but Archie tells each what they want to hear.  As he tells the basketball team, just tell each that “You’re my favorite.”   It seems to be working until Valentine’s Day when both girls demand that he make a choice.  It falls on a Sunday when he takes the day off and Archie says that he’s taking his mom out as it will be her first Valentine’s Day alone.  Before you say that he’s being sweet, he isn’t.  Betty and Ronnie treat each other to a date only to see Archie and Cheryl enter Pop’s.  When Ronnie wants to confront him, Betty stops her.  She has a better plan.

The next day, Betty and Ronnie want to know how his mother liked the special date and Archie lies.  Betty and Ronnie suggest that he take both on a special date.  Archie plans Lover’s Lane but Betty and Ronnie tell him no.  They want him to come to the Shop Class that night. 

When Archie arrives, he finds candles and flowers everywhere.  Betty gives him his coffee (with a sleeping pill addition) and Archie drinks awakening on the lumber saw.  Betty and Ronnie laugh at him as they start the saw, splitting him in half.  Each will always have a part of Archie – Ronnie his head, Betty the bottom half.  Why not cut him down the middle instead of splitting him in two, Roberto?  You could have had the “Perils of Pauline” that way.

The Big Finish (or Is It?)

Ronnie reviews the stories and isn’t happy.  She asks if that is how Jughead sees women (the last one).  Ronnie has seen a pattern.  The sexual politics are troubling to “say the least.”  She doesn’t like the girls as crazy killers.  She sees him as trivializing women and he’s disagrees.  He offers to take her to Babylonia but she turns him down.  The next day, Ronnie ignores him.  Is he the villain?

Of course, the school counselor has written an editorial that condemns the comics as being a corrupt influence on the youth of the day.  Blossom, Featherhead and he agree that the comics are a link between the violence (like the Muggs) and inspires teens to commit the acts.  The youth of the day’s innocence must be preserved at all costs.  They burn the copies they have and plan to remove those who write the stories. 

Jughead goes to Pep where he tells the editor about his girl troubles.  The editor informs Jughead due to his stellar work that he is getting his own byline, Jughead “Jugular” Jones.  The editor tells Jughead:  “Girls come and go but your name in print last forever.”  And the story isn’t over as the end card says it will be continued. 

But apparently not next week!  Previews show Betty and Archie deciding to go all the way.  Ronnie gives Betty advice.

When I was young, my hometown didn’t have the violent type used in tonight’s story.  We had DC comics which seemed to end with good winning, war comics (which my dad read), and Archie comics.  Archie was the only ones that mom approved and she wonders why I recap Riverdale.  The answer is simple.  It is a continuation of my youth!

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