Ahhhh, yes…  1966.  As you may recall, it was a year of Batmania, with comics once again in vogue:  Mild-mannered scientists of all stripes, pop stars, funny animals, random fat men, teenagers, spies and even grocery clerks gained mighty powers, and the kids of Riverdale were no exception.  And where there’s heroes, there’s bound to be a villain, which is where Reggie “The Worst” Mantle comes in.  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Life With Archie #50 awaits!

Life With Archie #50 CoverLIFE WITH ARCHIE #50

Writer: Frank Doyle
Penciler: Bob White
Inker: Marty Epp
Colorist: Uncredited
Letterer: Uncredited
Editor: Uncredited
Publisher: Archie Comics
Cover Price: 12 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $110.00

Previously in Life With Archie: Archie Andrews was an all-American teenager, torn between his crush on the pretty blonde girl next door and the pretty brunette uptown girl with her nose in the air.  Though Riverdale’s favorite son was the central figure (and namesake) of the company that published his adventures, Archie Comics was once known as MLJ Publishing, one of many publishers that sprung up to give us superhero adventures in the Golden Age.  Though the likes of The Shield and The Comet were mostly gone by the early 60s, the revived interest in superhero comics that came with the Batman TV show brought not only a revival of the original MLJ superhero properties, but superhero identities for the kids of Riverdale, each of whom suddenly transforms through strange magic energies (and who, after transforming back, don’t remember anything about their alter-egos, thus keeping the Riverdale status quo unharmed for the other dozen monthly Archie titles.)  This issue doesn’t waste any time, opening with Evilheart, Mad Doctor Doom and a Frankenstinian colleage  called Lunk spying on our heroes in their (completely empty and unfurnished) secret headquarters…

I suspect that secret actually needs to be “secret”, as they’ve transformed right in front of an open window in clear view of the street, but…  it pays not to think too hard about Pureheart stories most of the time, especially when Doyle’s plot is a barebones affair featuring steel solvent hair gel.  Captain Hero and Pureheart end up boxing with Evilheart’s Frankenstein, even throwing him through through the door to see if it’s booby-trapped as well.  (It is.)  Thankfully, Pureheart isn’t the only one with something dumb heroic up his metaphorical sleeve…

With the heroes’ stronghold now theirs, Evilheart and Mad Doctor Doom begin retrofitting it for their latest evil scheme…

“For practice.”  We see you, Reggie.  We ALL see you.  The plan seems to be rewriting every mind in Riverdale to Reggie’s rotten wavelength (although why they needed to steal the superhero headquarters to do it is left unspoken, as is why said HQ is a ranch-style house in the Riverdale suburbs.)  Reggie powers down, tricking Veronica into running to the aid of her beloved Archie-kins, leading to a complete wash for her brain…

With proof that the ray works, Reggie sets off to his next target, calling up Principal Weatherbee and inquiring if he knows about the wild parties being held at the “shack” that serves as headquarters for the United Three.  Rushing off to make certain that nobody has any fun, the ‘Bee is the next victim of Reggie’s brain-washing beam…

Officially Evilhearted, Weatherbee stalks away vowing to shut the whole school down, complaining that he never even liked his job anyway.  Sending a group of students to detention for being on-time (because he’s evil), Weatherbee’s next announcement sends shockwaves through Riverdale High’s population…

As everyone prepares to abandon teachers, books and dirty looks, Reggie talks Weatherbee into engaging the next phase of his plan: Announcing a killer party at the very house that he has rigged up.  Fortunately, the United Three are responsible kids who haven’t prepared to abandon the school…

One super-speed flight later, the teens somehow manage to swoop in from three different directions, even though they left from the same place and traveled together.  Once they arrive, though, the true awfulness of Mantle’s plan becomes clear: A city populated entirely with Reggies…

The Evilhearted teens take Pureheart down (thanks mostly to his unwillingness to use his strength on innocents) leading Superteen to engage her own brilliant plan.  Convincing Pureheart to power down, she sprays him with a “negative ion spray gun” that she keeps under her stylish white cape, and sends him through the doorway…

That last panel exemplifies something that I always find fascinating about Pureheart stories: They are actually mocking Silver Age storytelling, and Marvel-style bombastic stories specifically.  It really does feel like these creators can’t understand what people might like about those super-books and they’re working as hard as possible to ape the surface appeal without understanding what’s underneath that rococo.  Captain Hero and Superteen rush in to finish off the team, only to have Evilheart and Doom rush into the closet, then…

…they escape in a hidden rocket?  You have to wonder when (and for that matter HOW) they managed to install so many gadgets in the United Three’s own headquarters, but I wouldn’t worry your poor brain cells about it.  It’s Chinatown, Jake…  Still, it’s nice to have that final panel wrap everything up with such a big bow, with a smiling Grundy and a once-again-cordial Principal Weatherbee, leaving Life With Archie #50 with a slightly-confused 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Given how clever some of the regular Archie plots can be, I find it really odd that adding super-powers to the mix that things become so threadbare, but I enjoy the art and consider the Archie super-teens among my favorite oddball super-folks…

Ahhhh, yes...  1966.  As you may recall, it was a year of Batmania, with comics once again in vogue:  Mild-mannered scientists of all stripes, pop stars, funny animals, random fat men, teen-agers, spies and even grocery clerks gained mighty powers, and the kids of Riverdale were no exception.  And where there's heroes, there's bound to be a villain, which is where Reggie "The Worst" Mantle comes in.  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Life With Archie #50 awaits! LIFE WITH ARCHIE #50 Writer: Frank Doyle Penciler: Bob White Inker: Marty Epp Colorist: Uncredited Letterer: Uncredited Editor: Uncredited Publisher: Archie Comics Cover…
It's a relatively nonsensical plot, with energetic art and a clear expectation that superhero readers are... kind dumb? Still fun, in a very campy and rudimentary way...

LIFE WITH ARCHIE #50

Writing
Art
Coloring

It's a relatively nonsensical plot, with energetic art and a clear expectation that superhero readers are... kind dumb? Still fun, in a very campy and rudimentary way...

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.