Quite Possibly The Stupidest Thing I Have Ever Seen
I think it's become clear from our little chats here on the ISB that in addition to my outright love of everything awesome, I also have a pretty strong fascination with things that could charitably be referred to as "not very good." I'm not sure why, but whether it's my obsession with the joyfully horrible Anita Blake or the fact that I spent a good chunk of my Saturday afternoon reading through a trade of Ant that we had laying around at the shop, I can't stop reading through really, really horrible comics. So I like to think that I've got at least some tiny amount of credibility when I say that Life With Archie #236 may actually be--as the title of tonight's post suggests--the stupidest thing I have ever seen.
I've mentioned them before, but in case you missed it, Life With Archie and Archie at Riverdale High were the phenomenally melodramatic titles that Archie Comics put out back in the day, where the world's most venerable teenagers were faced with problems a little more life-threatening than what you might be used to, like the impact of heavy industry on the environment, plots to kidnap Veronica, or, in this case, the slow, agonizing death brought on by quicksand.
Yes, quicksand. Because in the deadly jungles surrounding Riverdale, only the strong will survive.
The whole thing, as chronicled in a daring three-part novel entitled "The Sinking Fund," starts off with Archie in imminent danger of being killed while out for a stroll with Betty one afternoon, and believe it or not...
...that is not the stupid part.
Fortunately for Young Mister Andrews, the quicksand turns out to be like four feet deep, and with Betty's help, he's able to pull himself and his amazingly pink pants out of the bog without any serious injury. Of course, the experience does leave him a little shaken, and he resolves to see to it that Riverdale's quicksand problem is fixed before it seriously impacts the local Big Game Hunting industry.
Surprisingly enough, Riverdale's city government is shown to be a thoroughly inept bureaucracy that's fully incapable of dealing with a problem like a local deathtrap. This may seem pretty out of place in the usually civic-minded Archie comics, right up until you remember that this is the same title where an "odorless aura of Satan" melted someone's face one time, which makes it pretty safe to assume that in Life With Archie, all bets are off.
Anyway, even without the city government to back him up, Archie decides to take action with his own brand of vigilante sinkhole-repair, and after reasoning that the quicksand wasn't a natural formation and is in fact caused by some kind of blockage, he turns, as always, to Jughead, who immediately provides him with a tow truck.
Where exactly Jughead got a tow truck is probably left unsaid, but rest assured: The man has connections that you and I could only dream about. You need a tow truck? He can get it. You want a toe? Jughead can get you a toe by three o'clock this afternoon, with nail polish.
Needless to say, they end up fixing the problem with the quicksand--which immediately turns into a crystal-clear, picturesque stream--by pulling out an antique car that was, perfectly preserved by being buried in mud for sixty years.
This, for the record, is the stupidest thing to happen in this story, but only until the next part completely blows it away.
Archie and the Gang take the car to Veronica's father--who, for the purposes of this story, is an antique car expert--who flips out, decides he has to have it, and immediately writes Archie a check for some astronomical, yet undisclosed amount. Arch, being the stand-up guy that he is, decides to take the money and split it with Betty and Jughead to pay them back for helping him out with the whole situation, to which they respond by getting into a violent argument at Pop's about how they don't deserve the money.
I'll go through that again: Archie offers to split a gigantic sum with his two pals after they save his life and help him earn the money, respectively, and they react by storming out and saying that they are no longer friends.
Admittedly, I've never had problems like Archie's, but I was a teenager for several years, and I like to think my boundless immaturity helps me to stay "hip" to what the "cool kids" are into these days, but really: That is insane. Maybe I'm just a shade more materialistic than Betty or Jughead, but the idea that they think Archie's a nice enough guy to keep the entire check to himself, but that they also suddenly hate him when he decides to do something nice for them is mind-boggling.
Fortunately, Mr. Lodge calls in Dilton Doiley--Riverdale's alleged genius--to solve the problem, which he does by using the money to buy the school a new freezer, trophy case, and copy machine, and then threatening to punch them in the face if Archie, Jughead, and Betty don't split the remaining five hundred bucks, and once again we learn that there is no problem that cannot be solved with major appliances and threats of physical violence.
Which, now that I think of it, is actually a pretty accurate moral.
And that's why I get paid the big bucks.