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Traded Up: ‘Archie Crossover Collection’

Archie Crossover Collection
Written by Alex Segura,
Matthew Rosenberg, Dan Parent

Illustrated by: Gisele Lagace,
Dan Parent, Jeff Shultz

ISBN: 978-1-68255-968-0
Released 7/5/17 / $14.99

 

Whenever I learn there is another Archie crossover being released, I’m both elated and repulsed.

The sugar-sugar-honey-honey-sweet eternal teens of my childhood can simultaneously do no wrong and, yet, they partake gaspingly nauseating ploys to sell comics by allowing real-world entities to enter their fictional world.

I mean, Archie cannot possibly be jumping the shark yet again, can he?

Yes, he can.

And, really, only he can.

Over and over again.

And, it’s OK.

(At least, that’s what I tell myself as I hand hard greenbacks to my comic book dealer.)

There have been so many crossovers that were simply unbelievable. Archie and the gang has met the Punisher, the Predator, the Ninja Turtles and, yep, KISS. Completely ridiculous scenarios. All of them. And, yet, totally believable as much as Marcia Brady can convince Davy Jones from The Monkees to with her to her prom.

Yes, that’s an intentionally dated reference so that you get the idea.

Archie is timelessly fictional and, in a way, so are all celebrities. They might be real people but our expectations of them are based on their artificial personas.  And that’s why Archie can get away with the very obviousness in this that makes us cringe.

Archie comics are both timeless and kitschy enough to embrace current culture scenarios in the hokiest of ways.

Simply put, I hate that I love these so much.

ROCK, ROCK, ROCK AND RIVERDALE HIGH SCHOOL

I’ll warn you now that none of the crossovers I listed above are in this collection. Instead, we get an older punk band – The Ramones – and four much more current personalities crossing paths with our eternal teens: Michael Strahan, George Takei, Lady Gaga and Mark Zuckerberg.

The first story involves The Archies – the band – meeting up with legendary punk band The Ramones. Claiming to be a rock band, Archie and his band mates soon discover they simply cannot compete with the Ramones’s classic chants in a battle of the bands situation. (Never mind all the members of the Ramones had passed by 2014. This is comic book pseudo-reality, after all.)

Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and Arch as The Starchies (get it?) all partake in a scavenger hunt to try and discover their mojo, ultimately bringing them back to CBGB to perform.

I won’t give away the twist, but do look for a few hidden gems throughout both from the world of Riverdale and from the world of punk.

The art style of this is different from the rest of the book, looking like a hybrid of the new, modern-age Riverdale characters with the house style from the past few decades. The rest of the book reverts back to the latter, looking far more appropriate for the cheesiness about to ensue.

What I find most interesting about the gang in their next celebrity meeting – with Lady Gaga – is that in so many stories they’ve actually spoofed her look and name. I seem to recall a Lady Googoo and maybe Lady Haha on a TV in a crazy outfit or howling on a radio in the background. (Don’t ask me to find the exact stories where’s she’s parodied as they’re buried in the stacks of Archie Digests in my basement.)

This is really a Betty and Veronica focused story, which makes sense seeing as they’ve battled about wardrobes so often in the past. In fact, the only thing missing from this section is a Pin-Up page or two with the girls wearing crazicles creations.

In “Geek Face-Off,” Archie universe brainiac Dilton Daily faces off with Facebook founder Zuckerburg, both trying to create the ultimate app for the school. Yes, the ultimate force meets the immovablex object.  It is, once again, the ideal pairing between comic book and real-world personalities.

Likewise, Moose is the main character when former footballer turned TV personality Michael Strahan comes to Riverdale. They even poke a bit of fun at his appearance by have a life-size standee literally stand in for him for most of the story. Apparently Strahand is a Riverdale alum and Moose is about to break one of his long-standing record.

Kevin Keller, the company’s first openly gay character, is appropriately the main character in the story where George “It’s OK to Be” Takei comes to town. We also get to see neatly all the characters in cosplay mode here, an extra bit of comedy joy. And, yes, it’ ends with his saying, “Oh, my!”

OH, MY, INDEED

This long history of Archie Comics and the familiarity of the characters really allows into these seemingly unlikely crossovers to become fun. Without their history, without their innocent timeliness, none of them would ever work. It’d be just far too forced. It’s those familiar faces, their stereotypical selves wisely worked into each encounter that makes these work. For the most part.

It’s unfortunate that the Ramones story the weakest in the book. It tries to get too close to now by using a newer, hybrid art style. It simply breaks too close instead of embracing the past. It also has the weakest reveal (i.e. reverse premise) of the lot.

Fortunately, the rest do embrace the unlikeliness, the silliness of it all and just go with it, using the more traditional Archie Comics house style. And this is where and why they are the most fun, even if they are the wackiest.

But that is really what we want and expect from these comics. Sure, the new style Riverdale comics and the TV series paint a darker picture that we can enjoy as dramas, but they live in that alternate reality where Jughead sulks.

These stories live in the non-reality where Juggie still challenges Dagwood on the funny pages for the tallest sandwich. This is where they can meet comic-colored celebrities and we internally giggle with little kid glee (even if we pretend to outwardly gag).

Please don’t stop the crossover collections, Archie Comics. Just remember to keep it a bit kitschy, just for us.

 

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