Way, way back in the winter of 1942, a waffle-haired young ginger lad earned his own title for the first time, leading to decades of slice-of-life stories in the small town of Riverdale and a vast and varied cast of supporting characters. Now, it all comes to a close… Your Major Spoilers review of Archie #666 awaits!
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Penciler: Dan Parent/Fernando Ruiz/Tim Kennedy
Inker: Rich Koslowski
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Publisher: Archie Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Archie: Man, if you don’t know about Riverdale’s teenage lothario and his pals and gals, I’m not sure I have the room to go over it all. His best friend is Jughead, Reggie’s a jerk, Mr. Weatherbee hates him, and he can’t decide which girl is best, Betty or Veronica. Anything else that comes up? We’ll go over when we get there…
Our story opens with a characteristic Archie moment: Rushing to get to school on time, Archie crashes into a painting crew, smashing a window and causing general chaos, chaos which earns him detention. But, it’s not just ANY detention, Faithful Spoilerites. It’s Archie Six-Hundred-Sixty-Sixth detention, a situation so grave and so unheard of that Principal Weatherbee is ready to threaten him with expulsion.
IF, that is, he can’t take the next Saturday and clean up the mess he has made. The best Archie stories have a simple hook, and this one is a doozy, serving as a double-level metaphor for us, the readers. When Weatherbee tells Miss Grundy and the rest of the teaching staff about Archie’s latest mishap, it sends them all (even long-missing members of the cast) down memory lane, remembering Archie’s goofiest, klutziest and all-around schmendriky moments of the last 70 years. And you know what that means, Spoilerites!
IT’S THE CLIP-SHOW!
Still, given the sheer number of characters that make appearances in this issue, from Moose to Ethel to Kevin Keller and back, it makes perfect sense to break it down to a series of short moments for each of them. Once the teachers are done, Archie’s friends gather at the Chocklit Shoppe to share their own memories of Archie madness, (although I can’t tell you whether these moments are canonical are not, though it probably doesn’t matter), followed by the line of the issue, an off-the-cuff exclamation that Archie is the guy you want guarding your back in a zombie apocalypse. A worried Betty and Veronica end up taking the problem of Archie’s impending doom to Ronnie’s dad, Mr. Lodge. Lodge has his OWN series of flashbacks, before saving young Master Andrews’ bacon by talking to Weatherbee man-to-man. The ‘Bee won’t lift the punishment, but he does allow a slight exception, this time: Archie’s friends will be allowed to help him repaint and repair.
THE BOTTOM LINE: SAW IT COMING, BUT STILL GOT A LITTLE MISTY
It’s clear where this is going, but I still felt a little choked up at the sight of EVERYONE (including his parents, Coach Kleats, Sabrina, and even Josie and her pals) pitching in to fix the damage and save Archie from transferring to another school. “You’ve been a great friend,” they tell him, “and given us lots of joy and laughter over the years.” (I’m not sniffling. YOU’RE sniffling! Shut up!) As the story comes to a close, though, all is back to normal, as Reggie pranks our hero, while Betty and Veronica discover that he scheduled one date with EACH of them that day, leaving Archibald Andrews one last run into the sunset as his angry paramours chase him in fury. Archie’s decision to relaunch their flagship character was a surprise, as was the creative team and stylistic changes upcoming, so I’m glad they took this issue to celebrate that which has come before, especially the multiple covers bringing back cast-members (and cancelled MLJ/Archie title logos.) In short, Archie #666 is a nice non-conclusion conclusion, a wrap-up to the adventures that none of us expected to end, done in such a way that it’s not really an ending at all, befitting the world’s most famous octogenarian teenager, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. Even as I look forward to the new Archie era, part of me hopes that classic Archie will still remain where he’s always been, at the endcaps of every grocery store aisle, and maybe in a corner of our hearts.