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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Life in Riverdale: Surprisingly Dangerous

Ah, Archie Andrews. The typical American teenager, supreme ladies' man, and unofficial mascot of both the ISB and the Socialist Youth Movement. Known throughout the world as the star of good, fun comics with cover gags--which Mark Waid used to edit, incidentally--that provide laughs even before the comic's been opened.

So why, exactly, does this particular Archie comic feature Betty and Veronica about to be burned alive in a towering five-alarm fire?

Least funny Archie cover EVER.Yes, friends, your eyes do not deceive you: That is an Archie comic with the word "Holocaust" on the cover. And yes. It is amazing.

Life with Archie--along with Archie at Riverdale High--was dedicated to more serious adventure stories starring the Riverdale gang that were every bit as over-the-top with danger and melodrama as the other Archie books were with slapstick humor. I mean, really: Archie doesn't just get in trouble at school, he's got a desk with a nameplate on it reserved in detention. And when things go bad, they go hilariously terrible.

I've got a few issues sitting over here that feature stories about a Colonel Parker analog bilking the town for thousands of dollars, Chuck almost going over a waterfall after a boating accident, and a traveling circus attempting to rob the somewhat-surprisingly-existant Riverdale Diamond Exchange. And then there's these two gems.

Holy Crap!The first, of course, is "HOLOCAUST!," wherein the gang takes a tour of Mr. Lodge's new factory that is woefully not up to code. A fire mysteriously starts, and Betty and Veronica are trapped on the top floor, surrounded by explosions and gouts of flame that prevent the fire department from rescuing them.

Archie, of course, can't stand to sit by watching his two best girls go up in smoke, and so he and Jughead climb to the roof of an adjacent building and--I swear--zipline across the gap, crashing through a window like Batman. They're able to rig up an impromptu slide, and with Betty thanking God for sparing her life, they escape.

... Barely.

And as a Special Bonus Feature, this issue features a story where a mysterious green box is opened by a construction crew and emits "in essence, an invisible, odorless aura of Satan" that causes immediate aging and decay to everything around it, including people. By which I mean, this:

HELLO, BOILS AND GHOULS!In case you forgot, this takes place in an Archie comic. Which are usually given to children. Just wanted to clarify that.

Anyway, Archie jacks one of Mr. Lodge's helicopters and takes the box out with a spear-gun (no, really) and everything goes back to normal, but it's never explained what exactly the box is, leaving me sitting there holding a comic book and shouting: "What's in the box!? For God's sake, Archie.. what's in the box?!"

Disconcerting to say the least when you're used to stories about Miss Grundy assigning extra homework, rather than, say, face-melting and severe burns. But it is nothing--nothing--compared to the other one I found. The Archie book so intense that you won't even find it on the Grand Comics Database.

That's right, kids: It's an ISB Exclusive: Life with Archie #165!

Ho. Ly.  Crap.I've seen a lot of Archie books in my time, but brother, this is the only one that's ever involved a HOSTAGE SITUATION. It is pure Dave Jackson-level Awesome. Heck, just take a look at how it opens:

Light flashes off a razor's edge as the surgical steel waves slowly back and forth like the sinister head of a deadly cobra! Archie and Mr. Lodge freeze in their tracks! Veronica stiffens in fear! Everybody's got something to lose in this chilling stalemate!

Sweet Christmas. That is the most awesome comic intro I have ever seen, and it's in the running for Most Awesome Thing Everâ„¢.

Mr. Lodge has hired a wood-carver to decorate virtually every wooden surface he owns with his intricate carvings. Unfortunately, the woodcarver's just using his skills to make copies of the Lodge's keys so that he can come back and rob the place blind, although his attempt is foiled by a suspicious Archie who chases him away after dropping Ronnie off from a date. The next day, confident that his cover wasn't blown, the carver returns, only to be confronted by Archie and Mr. Lodge. And that's when things get awesome.

Hey, you!  Get your damn hands off her!He's a blade-man, man! Veronica's held hostage, dragged off by the woodcarver, who takes the time to throw knives at Mr. Lodge before making his escape while tossing Veronica out of a moving car.

Personally, I was hoping for a scene where Mr. Lodge appears on television with two-million dollars in cash, offering it as a bounty on the head of the man who kidnapped his daughter, but what I got was even better. Archie hops into his jalopy and runs him off the road Transporter 2 style! And he even gets a kiss from Veronica for his troubles.

It's given me high hopes for Jughead's Time Police


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate that the "Holocaust" story doesn't attempt to answer the thorny ethical question at the heart of nearly every Archie comic: If Betty and Veronica were trapped in a burning building, and Archie could only save one of them, which would he choose?

1/09/2006 10:02 AM

Blogger James said...

You still need to print up Arche Guevara t-shirts.

1/09/2006 12:11 PM

Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Dude, I was planning on doing a bit on those Life With Archies!

They were so cool!!!

1/10/2006 2:50 AM

Blogger Elswinger said...

Liw With Archie was my favorite comic as a kid (2nd was Archie At Riverdale High). I am still looking for the copy of Life With Archie that has a cover story about Betty being possesed by the spirit of a dead girl. She is holding a teddy bear and is about to step off a cliff. Every once in awhile I check Ebay just to see if anyone is selling a copy gut I don't know which issue it was. I am guessing between 1973 and 1976 (in 77 I traded all my Archie comics for old issues of Penthouse and Playboy)

4/27/2006 5:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you please tell me if there was a life with archie issue about a haunted teddy bear? i think iot was at a seaside hanuted house. it has been haunting me my entire life.

9/20/2006 8:26 PM

Blogger Brett said...

The funny thing is that Life With Archie began as just another Archie title, virtually indistinguishable from Archie, Everything's Archie, Archie and Me, etc. Looking at my own collection, the switch to serious must've happened sometime between 1971 and 1974.

6/14/2007 1:16 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I remember the story with the haunted teddy bear and the seaside mansion too. It was a fantastic story. I came to this site looking to see if it was mentioned after a google search. I think it was in a summer digest from 1978 or 1979. Leave a comment here if you find it and so will I!

5/28/2009 12:59 PM

Anonymous Dr. Sivana said...

The hostage situation was done at least twice in the 70's. I believe it was in a "Betty and Veronica" that the son of a Lodge employee passed over for promotion kidnapped Betty leaving the Lodge house, thinking she was Veronica.

Betty was able to get a penciled note back home saying she had joined a commune, not letting on to the kidnapper that she wasn't Veronica. She knew he was at heart a decent guy who just lost his cool. Lodge forgave all, letting the youth know that his dad was passed over because there was a better position waiting for him.

Second one, was I believe in "Jughead", where a Lodge exec is held hostage in Mexico, while Jughead is just hanging out, eating Lodge food. Lodge tells Smithers to make Jughead useful via a list of errands. Jughead takes the letter intended for Lodge's key troubleshooter. That letter gets Jughead on Lodge's jet to Mexico, where he too is taken hostage.

Lodge, of course,was going to improve working conditions all along, and the toughest of the gang, mama, develops a maternal affection for Jughead, who is the only one who ever appreciated her cooking. I believe Veronica, out of a sense of misplaced patriotism, also goes down to Mexico to save Jones. It's been a while. And neither story was in "Life with Archie."

2/03/2010 4:40 PM

Anonymous Dr. Sivana said...

I seem to remember a cover where a med scientist type was going to turn Veronica into the most perfect of creatures, a cat!

2/03/2010 4:43 PM

Anonymous Buy Propecia said...

This comics was entertained, nonetheless it never was so popular due to the fact the re are just a few episodes, so people didn't accept that.

10/07/2010 10:24 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

The one with the teddy bear is #125

3/09/2014 12:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please tell me which Archie comic had the story where a witch came to town (not Sabrina!) and was putting bad spells on all the Archie characters. In the end, Archie read an incantation and she went up in flames. This story was in a Archie comic from the 1970's.

9/07/2017 9:15 PM


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