With all the bad news that’s come down the pike here at ISB Headquarters over the past few days, I thought that tonight might be a good time to turn the spotlight onto something a little lighter, and when I think of levity, there’s only one place I turn: Archie Comics! The Mirth of a Nation!
Yeah. That was their slogan back in the forties. I know.
Anyway, longtime ISB readers will no doubt be familiar with my mild obsession with Archie Comics, especially the “serious” strips that appeared in books like Live with Archie and Archie at Riverdale High. Rather than the standard “Two Dates For the Dance” formula that the core titles would head back to time and time again, these were stories that centered around Archie having to save Betty and Veronica from certain death in a burning building, stopping a robbery at the little-used Diamond Exchange, or clearing Chuck’s name in the aftermath of the infamous Riverdale Race Riots of ’72…
…which had the effect of making otherwise boring morality plays into the most bizarrely, hilariously incongruous stories that I have ever seen.
And when those stories started sneaking into the other titles, well, that’s when things just got ridiculous.
Yes, screaming in from 1973 are Josie and the Pussycats in Vengeance From the Crypt! Those of you who read bitterandrew’s Armagideon Time–and really, that should be all of you–might remember this one from when he covered it back in March. I’ve been looking for a copy of my own ever since, and since I tracked one down in the quarter bins at HeroesCon, we both agreed that this thing of beauty is worth another look.
Because after all… this is the one where Josie gets possessed by the Devil.
That in itself is crazy enough, but man… I’ve got to think that for the kids of the ’70s, getting a story where the Author of All Lies inhabits Josie’s body with murderous intent in the same comic where Melody has to deal with a dress falling apart and revealing a generous amount of leg, this thing had to be confusing as hell.
Then again, this is a series where Josie’s primary rival for Alan M.’s affections can cast spells when she holds a cat that is also the reincarnation of an ancestor who was sentenced to death for consorting with witches, so who knows? Maybe they were cool with it.
So here’s how it goes down: One summer morning in 1973, the creators in the Archie Comics Bullpen decided that it was a good time for kids to learn about death, and so the Pussycats took the morning off to accompany Alexandra to the Cabot Family Mausoleum when she went to lay flowers on her recently deceased grandfather’s casket. Josie, however, decides that it’d be a good idea to explore the spooky lower level, gets a noseful of Eau de Satan for her trouble, and before you know it, this is happening:
Yes, Josie’s got a bad case of the Devil! Or to quote the floating head of Valerie Brown that appears on page one…
Deep into the heart of our good friend they flow, and Josie becomes the devil’s advocate, a screaming, hate-ridden banshee, a monstrous messenger bent on delivering Vengeance From the Crypt!
Oh go cry about it, Val.
I mean really, sure it’s the Devil, and sure the first sign that something’s wrong is that Josie tries to burn down the Cabots’ house while everyone’s out at the pool, but it turns out that much like Andrew, all the devil really wants to do is have a girl-on-girl bikini catfight with Melody.
And don’t we all?
Unfortunately, before the fight can spill out into the kiddie pool full of Jell-O that the Cabots keep next to the patio (see Josie #84), Valerie the Spoilsport hits on the idea of exorcising the demon with the family Bible, and the chances of getting a Josie and the Pussycats cover of Number of the Beast are lost forever.
But hey! At least we got a happy ending out of it!