Combining playful pop-punk camp and cheerful cheesiness, the Archie Meets the B-52s is handsome, funny and fun.
Archie Meets the B-52s #1
Michael and Laura Allred (Cover); J.Bone (Inks); Tyler Boss (Cover); Joe Eisma (Cover): Franco Francavilla (Cover); Jack Morelli (Lettering); Dan Parent (art and cover); Alex Segura and Matthew Rosenberg (story); Glenn Whitmore (colors)
February 19, 2020
Sometimes as a reviewer, I’ll be exposed to great camp. Not good camp, or mediocre camp, but great camp. It’s therefore unsurprising that when you combine America’s squarest teen, Archie Andrews, with America’s campiest New Wave legends, the B-52s, you get a camp eggroll that somehow combines squeaky clean and eminently goofy.
It’s a new school year, and Archie Andrews in a major funk. The Archies broke up over the summer, and while his bandmates promised to stay in touch, they’ve instead gone in different directions. To beat back his blues, Archie listens to his favorite band, the B-52s. He just happens to be sweeping up at the local TV station where he has an internship when he learns his quirky idols are going to be in-studio for an appearance. The band’s instruments have apparently arrived ahead of them, and he can’t resist jamming out on Ricky Wilson’s guitar. While doing so, Archie manages to impress the band, who overhears his playing. Now they want he Archies to play backup for them on the locally broadcast gig — but that means that Mr. Andrews has to get the band back together. Fortunately, as Cindy Wilson says, the B-52s “love coming to a new town and helping out little boys [they] barely know!” Will their divide and conquer technique work in time for the concert?
Archie Meets the B-52s is both self-knowing and utterly sincere — goofy, with a good heart, much like the songs the B-52s have been playing for so many years. This book’s a cocktail of friendship, silliness, and pretty far-out grooves – an irresistible combo. the B-52s are characterized in the issue as clever, self-knowing, supportive and a little snarky, but not in a bad-natured way. They ultimately choose to participate in the scheme to reunite The Archies because it will “save rock and roll,” while acknowledging that in-universe the Archies are little-known.
Archie himself is at his golly-gee best, though he is a bit selfishly motivated here. Yes, he macks on Kate Pierson, but who wouldn’t? There’s a wonderful bit where Fred Schneider and Jughead bond over food, and Betty and Cindy become friends over a beatnik-inspired duet of “Give Me My Man Back.” But the standout is the eternally supremely arrogant Reggie Mantle, who is already fronting his own new band — Reggie and the Reggies, natch. Overall, the writing is funny and creative, and shows a fondness for the band and Archie himself.
Artwise, the thick linework of J.Bone and the standard main Archie line goodness of Dan Parent work well for the campy flashback feeling of the issue. There’s little opportunity for surrealism, but there are several big, splashy pages filled with color and action.
Just from reading what I’ve written so far, I’m sure you’re shouting to yourself ‘what era is this set in?’ Well, in an interesting twist, this tale is set in the Riverdale of the early ‘80s — cassette tapes are used, analog TV still exists and have dial tuners. We’re before the launch of MTV (N-TV, in this fictional verse) and Ricky Wilson – who passed away from AIDS-related complications in 1985 — is still playing lead guitar for the band. Yet the Archies inexplicably play “Love Shack” during the party — which wasn’t released until 1989, well after Wilson’s death. For casual fans of the band this won’t be a big deal, but for devotees like me it’s going to be a glaring anachronism.
But Archie Meets the B-52s will likely delight both B-52 fans and charm Archie fans who appreciate a little silliness.