Spooktoberfest Special: Riverdale After Dark

I’ve probably made this abundantly clear over the past few years here at the ISB, but I’ve got a lot of affection for Archie comics, and a particular fondness for the bizarre forays into the world of the supernatural. Those stories–which were often bizarre even without comparing them to the tame, setup-punchline stories the line’s mostly known for–were largely a product of the ’70s, when the first cracks in the Comics Code meant that everyone and their flame-headed stunt cyclist brother were adding touches of horror to their comics, but there’s a more recent example that somehow managed to be almost as odd.

I speak, of course, of Archie’s Weird Mysteries:



Hitting shelves in 2000 to accompany a short-lived animated series, (and currently being reprinted in Tales From Riverdale Digest, hands down the best of the Archie titles) Weird Mysteries was essentially 31 issues of Archie mashing up Scooby Doo and utterly shameless amounts of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. How shameless, you ask?

Well, in one issue you find out that Veronica is the Chosen One who has mystical vampire-killing powers called “The Ender.”



So, you know. There’s that.

The Buffy influence is strongest in the stories about Scarlet, who, as a teenage vampire sent to infiltrate Archie and his running crew, is not to be confused with Marvel’s ex-nun vigilante or GI Joe’s counter-intelligence specialist from the ATL. The same elements are all there, what with her being dispatched from a nearby cave to find the curio shop, Archie’s supernatural mentor, the ersatz Stephen Strange that is Dr. Beaumont, and she even turns good, then evil again, then good again.

What’s really notable about her, however, is that she may in fact be the worst disguise artist in comic book history:



That’s right, folks: Her plan is to put on a shocking pink wig and a “ninja style jumpsuit” so that she can blend in with people who already know who she is.

But that’s not the story I want to discuss tonight, as there’s one story from Weird Mysteries that, while it lacks the supernatural element that was common in the rest of the series, manages to be even creepier, mostly because it starts with Archie… scrapbooking:



Okay, look: Archie likes girls. That is pretty much the dude’s entire deal. But the fact that he carries around a three-ring binder full of photos and vital information about the entire female population of Riverdale High that he pines over while they’re bringing it on at cheer camp? That’s pushing it.

It does come in handy for Riverdale’s burgeoning Mad Scienitist population, however, as one of them decides to use Archie’s ill-gotten dossiers to create a robot with the best qualities of Betty and Veronica and then send her to date Archie to study the alleged SCIENCE! of horny teenagers. Thus, Lisi is born:



And suddenly, this is the story where Archie dates a sexbot.

I’ve got to say, though, that I really do like the art for it. There’s a sort of stripped-down (even by Archie standards) quality that blends the traditional Dan DeCarlo house style with something that’s clearly attempting to emulate the animated-series style of guys like Mike Parobeck and Bruce Timm, and it’s something I’d have liked to see applied to the whole line.

But that doesn’t really matter, because this is the story where Archie dates a sexbot.



Unfortunately for Archie, Lisi somehow manages to end up with Betty’s tendency to get clingy and Veronica’s tendency to be a hateful bitch, and Archie has to be free, baby, you know? But attempting to shut her down in the normal way doesn’t quite work, as Veronica’s personality has rooted itself in the mechanism, and is just too stubborn to die, and while they come tantalizingly close to doing a story where Ronnie’s negative traits mutate into a sentient technovirus and/or V.E.R.O.N.D.O.K.A. (Vicious, Extremely Rich Organism Neatly Designed Only for Killing Archie), they manage to overwrite her with Cheryl Blossom and sell her to a store to be used as a mannequin, which is also fairly creepy.

But not before she polishes Archie’s helmet.






And on the cover.



One can only imagine what Archie wrote on Lisi’s scrapbook page.

27 thoughts on “Spooktoberfest Special: Riverdale After Dark

  1. The caption to the Ender panel makes me happy even though I’ve never intentionally read a single word written by Orson Scott Card.

  2. Once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence, three times is a writer sitting around at Archie going “Teehee, polish his helmet!”

  3. Has anybody seen the animated series of this comic?

    This is probably just me, but I loved it 1072% more than I ever liked ‘Scooby Doo’, because it all happens “in a little town called Riverdale.”

    *gets a far away look in his eye*

  4. Sunstone? I know it makes sense in a vampire theme, but it’s also the name of the (usually thoughtful) religion-and-the-arts magazine where Card published his rant against Salman Rushdie after he was sentenced to death, among other things. After all, he was asking for it.

    Of course, it has to be an entirely innocent coincidence, like the above pleasure droid helmet polish or the earlier Goat C. Personally I’m waiting for the Archie adaptation of The Ice Storm.

  5. In that second panel with Lisi I can’t help but notice that her left hand is off panel. Given the position of the arm it’s presumably polishing Archie’s helmet…

  6. Just thought you’d like to know that this entry made Whedonesque! You’ve infiltrated the Whedonverse, Chris. Congrats! Now you’re really famous.

  7. I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but the look of the little devil on Archie’s shoulder is really creeping me out.

  8. Has anybody seen the animated series of this comic?
    This is probably just me, but I loved it 1072% more than I ever liked ‘Scooby Doo’, because it all happens “in a little town called Riverdale.”
    *gets a far away look in his eye*

    I watched it – it was one of those shows that came on around 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning, had fuzzy reception, and made you feel ashamed for getting up so early to watch it. It was also one of those shows that tries like hell to get every non-nude fetish into the entire show’s series.

    It was wonderful.

  9. What I find most disturbing are the tendrils of inky blackness emerging from Jughead’s ice cream cone. Did someone summon Zalgo again?

  10. Well, see, Jughead broke his ice cream cone but found this ice cream cone fabricating machine on an alien planet…

  11. The caption of the Scarlet picture made me laugh out loud (or lol as the kids say). Scarlet is truly, truly outrageous.

  12. So, Devil-Archie and Angel-Archie are actually in agreement? Okay, different reasoning, but same result. Can’t decide if that’s helpful or not.

  13. I love how you can’t ever begin to guess she’s a robot on the cover. All you know is that it’s something creepy, and that she loves being tidy about sports accesories.

  14. This was also a Buffy plot

    “She’s crazy, but who cares? She’s hot!” is pretty much why I stay with my girlfriend

  15. I’m aware, but as the alt text on the picture of Lisi says, this issue actually predates the robot girlfriend episode of Buffy.

    It does not, however, predate the series’ high point, Robot John Ritter.

  16. “I’ve got to say, though, that I really do like the art for it.”

    Me too. I don’t share your affection for Archie usually, but I might have to look for these the next time in a place that might actually have Archie back issues. Or ebay.

  17. What I find most disturbing are the tendrils of inky blackness emerging from Jughead’s ice cream cone.

    Jughead as the Venom of the Archieverse? Seems like a natural fit to me.

  18. You’ve definitely made me want to check these out. Maybe after I put together the run of Jughead’s Time Police, I’ll track this down.

  19. I loved the animated series, too. There were a couple of kinky moments, though.

    Also, I think this is a rarity! The subject of the cover is something that actually happened in the comic!