Thursday, July 06, 2017

More on this week's Archie Crossover Collection

This week Archie Comics released the above trade, Archie Crossover Collection, which includes Archie Meets Ramones and five celebrity appearances from the pages of Archie, Betty and Veronica and Kevin Keller. I reviewed it at Good Comics For Kids, if you would like to read more about it there.

The biggest takeaways are, I think, that 1) Archie Comics has regularly and somewhat accidentally published some the absolute weirdest comics of the decade and that 2) Gisele Lagace is the best and you should probably look at everything she draws.

Here are some further items of note I thought worth mentioning while reading through the trade...

Gisele Lagace
1.) Mr. Weatherbee sure has changed a lot in the course of 40 years. The Archie have been transported to 1976 New York City, via a magical Ramones record given to them by Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. When they reluctantly take the stage, young Archie Andrews finds himself confronted by...Mr. Weatherbee? I do believe that's meant to be Archie's dad right next to the Bee, calling The Archies a bunch of losers (It's not mentioned in the scene, but that guy has the same mustache as Mr. Andrews, and it was previously established he was a Ramones fan).

It's funny, but adding a layer of weirdness to this is, of course, the fact that in "our" 1976, Mr. Weatherbee looked and acted exactly as he does in our 2017, as, like all of the characters, he hasn't aged since the 1940s. It might even be possible that the Mr. Weatherbee in the above image could leave the concert venue, walk to the nearest drug store or newstand and buy an issue of an Archie comic featuring a different version of himself!

Trippy, huh?

2.) The Ramones don't even pretend to like The Archies. One of the running gags of the book is that The Archies, who are never referred to by anyone in the scene as anything other than The Starchies, are awful.

Archie gets about one and a half lines into a song in that scene where young Master Weatherbee is hassling them before he gets hit in the egg with a face and they're booed off the stage. Dee Dee Ramones' casual dismissal of them above is actually pretty typical of their response to The Archies/Starchies.

The Ramones take the stage immediately after the Archies are forced from it, and they play "Blitzkreig Bop." They are surprised to see the Archies still hanging around after the show, and when Betty asks, "Why would we leave?" they are ready with several answers.

"Does this mean we can't play the battle of the bands?" Archie asks. "If it was up to us you'd never play music again," Dee Dee replies, just as cheerfully as his dismissal of them above.

While Alex Segura and Matthew Rosenberg's script is somewhat hagiographic of The Ramones, as one would likely expect it to be, it's consistent in its dismissal of The Archies. They do play some well-received songs eventually, both at CBGBs and in modern-day Riverdale, but these are Ramones covers ("I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement," "Judy is a Punk"), but it was nice to see The Archies being belittled as much as they are throughout the issue...particularly given the stories that follow, which treat both the Archie comics characters as the guest stars so gently.

Jeff Shultz and Jim Amash
3.) Archie Comics had permission to use Lady Gaga's name and likeness for her appearance in Betty and Veronica, but not her lyrics...I guess? I know very, very little about Lady Gaga and her body of work, but one thing I do know is that she has a song called "Poker Face." (I know this because back when that song was in heavy rotation, my nieces told me the following joke: "What's the best way to wake up Lady Gaga when she's asleep? Poke her face.")

But as you can see, in the Archie-verse, it's "Poker Head." I thought that was pretty weird. There are some other bits of lyrics that are slightly changed, or at least appear to be (she doesn't sing about salami in any of her songs, does she?), and these seem like the sorts of changes you would make if you were using a Lady Gaga analogue, like Lady Googoo or something, not if Lady Gaga herself signed off on the project.

The best I can figure is that there is some legal issue I don't understand, like maybe Lady Gaga signed off on what she could, but the rights to her lyrics are tied to another entity, and that entity didn't want to participate, or Archie didn't want to approach them because it wasn't worth it for two or three panels or...what.

Anyway, the most memorable part of this crossover for me was trying to figure out that aspect.

Dan Parent and Amash
4.) The background action is where it's really at in these older, pre-reboot Archie Comics. This is from the Mark Zuckerberg issue (When I told my 14-year-old niece, a huge Riverdale fan, about this book, she asks who Mark Zuckerberg was). The main action is the dialogue between Archie and Dilton Doiley, but man, check out the background! There's a generically pretty girl who could be Betty for all the detail she's drawn with, and she's seemingly ecstatic to catch a glimpse of that hunky Archie Andrews, and then around the corner...Man, what's going on there?

Did that girl cut off the giant, and he's angry? Did she step on his foot, and that's why he's glowering at her? Was he just standing there, fuming about something, and she's walking quickly and gingerly by, terrified?

No offense to Mark Zuckerberg, but I'm really much more interested in what's going on in that hallway than I am with his competition with Dilton.

Parent and Amash
5.) By one measure, this first panel was the funniest part of the book. The Ramones issue and the Michael Strahan issue (Confession: I had to ask a friend who Strahan was) were the two best-written of five stories included in here, and both are full of pretty effective gags. That said, the only time I actually laughed out loud was at Reggie's awesome/dumb diss of Archie in that first panel.

I also kind of love how angry Reggie looks, as he furiously eats that apple. I am tempted to watch Riverdale just to see if the guy who plays Reggie is portrayed like that, and if he always looks like he's pissed-off. I understand that the series has a murder mystery aspect to it, and Reggie's not a major suspect, but man, if anyone killed anyone in Riverdale, I would just kinda assume it must have been Reggie Mantle who pulled the trigger.

Also humorous, but in the accidental way, is the fact that Archie is feeling down because all the girls in his school are suddenly madly in love with Mark Zuckerberg, international sexy symbol.

Parent and Rich Koslowski
6.) I would really like to hear Jughead's report. The plot of the George Takei guest-starring issue of Kevin Keller was that the actor was so impressed with Kevin's essay about him that he decides to visit Kevin's school. The specific assignment was "People Who Inspire Us," and,in the panel above, we see who the other members of the gang chose.

The characters' immortality amused me here, too, as Archie and Reggie were both born before their heroes...although in Archie's case, it was at least close.

You know, Archie Comics could probably have gotten Colonel Sanders to appear. He's been starring in some extremely weird-ass DC Comics crossovers anyway, to hear Chris Sims tell it at the late, great Comics Alliance (I miss you so much, Comics Alliance! And not just the occasional check, but because I don't know where the fuck to go to get comics news anymore! I just have to hope whatever it is turns out to be a big enough deal that Tom Spurgeon covers it, and it usually isn't!).

Parent and Koslowski
7.) I confess that I love generic cosplay. So scenes at comics conventions can be pretty damn awesome, as any sort of real-world convention would of course have tons of copy-righted characters from many different media walking around, but when said convention is a fictional one, appearing in a comic book or cartoon or movie or TV show, the makers of that particular scene have to improvise, and they generally come up with some pretty bizarre analogues.

There was that one Harley Quinn issue where she visited San Diego Comic Con and, conveniently enough, everyone there seemed to be dressed like a DC Comics character, or a generic one. There's a pretty fun direct-to-DVD Scooby-Doo movie Mask of The Blue Falcon where the gang solve a mystery at a convention, and all the characters and pop culture detritus is associated with Hanna-Barbera superheroes of old, many of whom ended up appearing Future Quest (I'm still waiting for a Blue Falcon Hanna-Barbereboot comic, by the way... maybe drawn by John McCrea?).

Here artist Dan Parent just went with all-analogue route, save for Jughead and Ethel both dressing as Spock (on the next page, she embraces Jughead and says they can be "Spocks in love," which I am pretty sure is a ship somewhere on the Internet). I'm a little surprised he didn't go the route of the Scooby-Doo movie, and dress the characters as, like, Red Circle heroes or something. Of course, if he did, he wouldn't get to see Veronica's Wonder Woman costume, which sounds like she might have made it based on someone who has never seen Wonder Woman relaying what he remembered someone else saying the character looked like.

At the con, there's some pretty insane cosplaying going on, some of it close-ish to actual characters, like a guy wearing an orange Green Lantern shirt (not with the Orange Lantern symbol, mind you; it's an orange t shirt with a white GL symbol in the middle of it) or a Spider-Man with big blue pupils in his white eyes and a visible frowny face and so on. I'm 90% sure there was a toddler dressed like Mr. Weatherbee too...

Parent and Koslowski
8.) "Broad Impact"....? Kevin will just not shut up about George Takei. After Takei has visited their school and given a short speech, Kevin and a friend he reconnected with at the Smithville Comic-Con are going to the movies together, and Kevin's still talking about Takei. But forget that, what are they going to see...?

Something romantic, like the poster Kevin's friend's head is partially obscuring...Love and Rockets? Love and Ghosts? Love and Bigfoots?

Or are they going to see what I can only assume is a pretty awesome female-lead action movie, Broad Impact...? I don't know what a film with that title could be about, but I hope it stars Ronda Rousey or Gina Carano or Zoe Bell going back in time to the 1930s or 1940s and beating up everyone calling them broad, bird, frail and so on.

Parent and Koslowski
9.) I love the look on this lady's face. This panel immediately follows the one with the Broad Impact poster. What is going on in that lady's head?

I suppose Dan Parent was just drawing a bored face. But perhaps she's rolling her eyes and frowning at Kevin sounding so sanctimonious, and she's sick of hearing him talk about this, even though it's only been for a few panels?

Perhaps she's there as an example of the fact that "There's always more work to be done," and she's thinking something like, "Look at these two gays, out on a gay date, gaily. Back in my day, this would have never happened."

Perhaps she's looking at Brian's banana yellow safari shirt, and she can't believe he's actually wearing it out in public.

Or perhaps this is her first day at work at a brand-new movie theater that has just been built, and she's just now realizing that when they were building the ticket window, they neglected to leave any sort of space or opening through which customers could hand her money or cards and she could hand them tickets to the movies?

10.) But will there be a volume two...? I was a little surprised that the above issue, the first half of a two-parter involving then-President of the United States Barack Obama and then-ex-Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, was not included herein. It was certainly from around the same time as many of these non-Ramones comics.

The Zuckerberg issue was Archie #624, and the Strahan issue was #626. Just scrolling through the covers between the Obama/Palin story and the book's cancellation with 2015's Archie #666 , there are covers featuring X Factor Vs. American Idol ("Simon Vs. J.Lo!" the cover reads), Archie Meets KISS and Archie Meets Glee. It's possible they're saving Obama/Palin for a future volume 2 of this collection.

Or it's just as possible that they didn't include it because no one remembers who Sarah Palin is anymore...?

(Seriously, I do wonder if the higher-ups at Archie now regard that issue as a mistake. It seemed weird, even that the time, that the President of the United States of America was paired not with, say, Senator John McCain or a real political rival, but the vice-presidential candidate on the ticket he defeated a little over two years prior to that comic's release. If I'm remembering my recent political history right--and I may not be!--this was well after Palin resigned as Alaskan governor mid-term and when there was still semi-serious speculation that she might run for president in 2012.)

If there is a second volume, rather than Obama, Palin, Simon, J.Lo, the cast of characters from Glee and that Sharknadow one-shot (which I've already bought and read), I would prefer to see something--anything!--collecting Archie Meets The Punisher.

1 comment:

Jose Gregorio Bencomo Gomez said...

Marvel/Disney doesn't do crossovers anymore and it even keeps doing stupid things like keeping the X-Men and Fantastic Four out of the next Marvel vs. Capcom game just to spite FOX, so I doubt Archie meets the Punisher will ever be reprinted.

On the plus side, there's a Betty and Veronica meet Harley & Ivy miniseries coming soon (seriously!) so between that and the already existing Little Archie/Tiny Titans they always could fill a nice Archie/DC Comics trade.