Riverdale, however, is far, far beyond my comprehension.
My free comic on Free Comic Book Day, you see, was the Archie 65th Anniversary Bash. Light. Fun. Cheery. Or so I thought ... !
But first -- kudos is deserved by the publishers of Archie Comics, who (unlike all the other companies, I believe) actually created a comic specifically for the event with the sole purpose of introducing to firsttime readers the essential characters and elements of their line. If all companies did that, FCBD could be more focused on introducing comics to new readers rather than giving free comics to old ones.
So what if it looks like it was written and drawn in a day? They still did it. The Archie Comics group doesn't rely on the fact that its stuff has been around for 65 years; it knows there's always a new child who's not yet read an Archie book, and aimed its offering at them. No wonder the Archieverse remains strong.
Strong, but mind-boggling. Take for example, the Mysterious Box of Nothingness:
Some sort of indicia box whitened out to prevent resale? That's what they'd like you to think...!
Or does Archie's excitement over his bash have a corporal manifestation so prodigious and pronounced that an enormous bowlderizing box is required to obscure it? It would certainly explain the fervency of Betty and Veronica's dedication.
Or is it a visually symbolic commentary on the emptiness at the heart of the Archieverse? "Archie is hollow," the box says, "composed only of literary boundaries of plot that contain no meaning, no continuity, no core."
This interpretation is certainly reinforced by the impossibly achronal appearance of Li'l Archie beside his teen counterpart: "Archie is beyond time and space. Archie is the empty centerpoint of a null zone where all normal reference systems are negated." Spooky, huh? I think Archie's in league with Supergirl.
Only the Null Box allowed me to perceive the meaning of the panel below. I read it several times with a vague feeling of disorienting unease, but after several hours of zen-like contemplation of the anti-space circumscribed by the Null Box I finally noticed what was bothering me...The Bobbsey Twins. The Bobbsey Twins were created in 1904 and their books were published with diminishing popularity up through, say, the 1970s. That was 30 years ago-- in OUR universe. What kind of highschooler today would naturally refer to the Bobbsey Twins? Why is this fella, Beaucoup Hairgel or some such, talking about the Bobbsey Twins as if anyone is going to understand?
Because the Archieverse, the Null Box says to us, is not bound by time and space, only by its own plot devices and narrative needs. Like Shazam's Rock of Eternity, the Archieverse is equidistant from all points of space/time; the Archieverse is the home of God/Archie; everything really IS Archie. Shudder.
Remember Josie & The Pussycats? Long tails, and sharps and flats? Yeah, I thought I did, too, with their cute little pussycat costumes. Until I realized....
The---the tails. The ears. Oh, ye gods of Olympus, they're REAL.
Aahh! The Pussycats aren't wearing costumes, they're some sort of nightmarish hybridized catwomen, like the illicit offspring of Mary Marvel and Tawky Tawny! And ... no one seems to notice. It's incomprehensible...!
And it gets worse.
Okay, there's apparently a band called "The Veronicas". Kind of weird, but no weirder than there being a band called the "Archies", I guess. But, wait, wait ... the "Veronicas" ...
I -- I don't understand. I can't -- Are they real people comic-bookized to promote themselves? Are they a fictional group being portrayed by live actors? Are they ambitextuals? And, hey, how could the Archies have had a number one hit when they aren't real? My understanding of reality -- it breaks down when confronted with the Archieverse. The nature of God/Archie is beyond the scope of the human mind.
Thank goodness, here's a familiar face: Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Nice, safe, familiar Sabrina. But, what's she doing in this panel? Why, she's -- she's imagining her own forthcoming makeover as a Manga character.
She is actively metacommenting on her own transtextual conversion into manga; it's mind-boggling! And to her it's .... SIMPLE. NOoooo! Et tu, Sabrina?
Wait a minute. I think I get it now: The Archieverse is some sort of plot to break down the barriers between the real and the unreal, crippling the minds of our youth, possibly explaining the moral and psychological decay of society since Archie's arrival in popular culture.
Of course! The erosion of the fourth wall, the impossible dreamlike imagery, the intentional violation of the concepts of space/time and identity; the Archieverse is comics' most insidious nest of SURREALISM.
But who could be responsible for this deceptive madness, this threat to the sanity of society?
It's been obvious all along, staring us right in the face:
SINISTER SUPERVILLAIN OF SURREALISM
SINISTER SUPERVILLAIN OF SURREALISM
Someone call the Boy Wonder!