Comics – A Warming Effect

Tales-From-Riverdale-Digest-26
Writer: George Gladir
Pencils: Fernando Ruiz*
Inks: Jon D’Agostino*
Colors: Barry Grossman*
Letters: Jack Morelli*
Original Publication: Tales From Riverdale Digest, No. 26
Cover Date: March, 2008
Shipping Date: December 26, 2007**
On-Sale DDC Date: January 2, 2008**
On-Sale Newsstand Date: January 15, 2008**
Length: 11 pages

*I’m posting an old review that I wrote in 2008, of a story in a digest that I no longer own. I didn’t make note of anyone other than the writer back then; the info comes from Grand Comics Database.

**according to solicitations

In the school’s lab, Dilton shows off his new invention, a device that sucks carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, to Betty, Nancy, and Reggie. Betty and Nancy are impressed, but Reggie isn’t and criticizes the “greens” for their “alarmist talk” about the greenhouse effect and global warming. Betty is surprised by his attitude, but he dismisses her concerns by saying they’ve always had big climate changes over the centuries. Reggie leaves the “ditzy tree huggers” to go home and work on his class president election posters. He offers Betty and Nancy a lift home in his big SUV, but Betty turns it down for the exercise benefits of walking. Nancy adds it’s good for the environment.

As Reggie gets stuck in traffic, Betty and Nancy walk past him, and Betty says sometimes walking can be a faster form of transportation.

That night, with one week until the election, Reggie falls asleep while working on his posters and has a dream.

Reggie asks Archie and Jughead for suggestions on where to hang up his election posters. Archie suggests the new dikes that have just gone up. Reggie is surprised. Jughead explains, due to the polar ice caps https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_ice_cap melting, dikes were built to prevent flooding in Riverdale. Skateboarders use the tops of the dikes to do their stunts. Reggie hangs a poster on a dike but then notes it (with his slogan, “As Dependable As the Weather”) doesn’t go with the scene.

Reggie sees Santa’s sleigh flying in the sky and asks what he’s doing here so early. Archie explains, because of the polar ice caps melting, Santa is way behind on last year’s deliveries. Santa, dressed in shorts, boots, his hat, and sunglasses, asks Reggie for help in delivering toys. Reggie asks what’s wrong with his elves helping him. Santa says they’re all back home, building dikes, because their polar ice cap is melting, too. Reggie gets a ladder and climbs to the roof of the house that Santa is on. As Santa goes down the chimney, he says there’s one thing that he does like about the tropical climate in Riverdale: people no longer build fires in fireplaces, so he no longer worries about scorching his pants. These day visits remove the element of surprise, but no one seems to be home. Santa wishes the kids would leave ice cold lemonade instead of cookies. Reggie gets into the house somehow and notices the family had set up and decorated a Christmas cactus with a note to Santa that it’s the only tree that they could find this year. When Santa is back on the roof, Reggie runs away, having some slight changes to make on his election posters.

Veronica comes by and offers Reggie a lift. Reggie tells her to get him home as quickly as she can, because he has more work to do on his posters. Veronica is driving a hybrid car, because her father feels she should drive one to save on fuel. Reggie wants a good reason why she’d want to do that. Veronica says she can give him a dozen good reasons, but she points out the price of gas as one reason. Reggie says it’s “through the roof”. Reggie says there must be some mistake, but Veronica says the price has been “quite high for some time”. The service station provides its customers with a big “crying towel” every time that there’s a huge jump in the price. Veronica says it’s getting a lot of action lately. A police officer stops Veronica, because today is Wednesday, and the highway is closed to all four-wheeled vehicles and trucks to cut down on fuel consumption by encouraging other forms of transportation. Veronica and Reggie have to take the long way home. They’re almost to Reggie’s place, and Veronica asks him if he would like to stop off and pick up any supplies that he might need. Reggie says yes.

Veronica stops at a store. Reggie gets out of the car and runs to the store, telling Veronica that he needs to pick up a big supply of crying towels.

Reggie wakes up, realizes it was all a “silly dream”, and laughs, but then he thinks it seemed so real.

Reggie goes to another room (the living room? the den?) to tell his parents about his “silly dream”, but his mom silences him. Mr. Lodge is being interviewed on a talk show. His new solar panel business in Riverdale is thriving, because more and more firms realize the need to focus on cheap, renewable energy to eliminate the harmful effects of increased carbon in the environment. Then Reggie’s mom wants to know about his “silly dream”, but he says it’s nothing. Reggie excuses himself and goes to make some big changes on his posters.

At school, Betty asks Nancy if she’s decided who she’s voting for. Nancy says anybody but Reggie. Reggie has new campaign posters up, made of 100% recycled material, with his new slogan, “He Cares”. Nancy then notices Reggie has Dilton up on the platform with him. Reggie promises, if elected, he’ll always have Dilton at his side with energy-saving and air-cleaning solutions for the school. Betty asks Nancy if she thinks Reggie is sincere about clean air. Nancy agrees and says Reggie’s not emitting his usual hot air.

When I first heard about this story, I was happy that Archie Comics had decided to tackle such a serious issue. That’s why I’m so disappointed by the end result.

Sure, the story does explore some of the possible adjustments that we’ll have to make in the near future, such as buying hybrid cars or using other forms of transportation, through-the-roof gas prices (though we never find out how high that “through the roof” is, probably to keep the story current), rising temperatures, and rising sea levels, but the story has some major flaws.

First, Reggie’s lesson is learned from a dream, which he dismisses as “silly” soon after waking up, then thinks about seriously, then goes back to dismissing it as silly again. It’s ultimately a short talk show interview with Mr. Lodge that convinces Reggie to go green. So what was that dream that took up most of the story for?

Second, the story takes on a silly tone with the introduction of some silly elements. For example, a large part of the story deals with Santa Claus delivering presents in hot weather. Yes, it’s been established that Santa Claus exists in the Archieverse, but his inclusion in this particular story does not contribute any real-world, educational content, which presumably is the point of this story.

The polar ice caps melting have caused Santa to fall behind on his deliveries from last year. How? If anything, wouldn’t there be less houses for Santa to visit, since a lot of them would be, y’know, underwater?

Then there are the crying towels. That’s just stupid. I doubt most people would literally cry over a rise in gas prices, and those that do would need only a tissue.

The dikes introduce a different type of flaw. By showing kids using them for skateboarding, instead of showing them being used for what they were designed (holding back water), their importance is diminished in the readers’ eyes.

Showing someone using a pogo stick as an alternate form of transportation is another example of treating a serious issue as a joke.

A smaller issue that I have with this story is that things in Reggie’s dream don’t make sense. I know dreams are like that, but there’s no indication in the story that this is supposed to be a weird, disjointed dream, so I’ll address them, anyway. Why is everyone treating Reggie with a “Where have you been?” mentality? No time seems to have passed, judging by the characters’ appearances and the fact that Reggie is still in the election. Why the Rip Van Winkle nature of the dream?

What had the potential to be a good, educational story is reduced to the equivalent of A Christmas Carol focusing totally on the future – but without the dramatic impact.

This story could have been so much more. It should have been approached differently. Get rid of the dream entirely. Get rid of the dumb jokes like the crying towel. Show how global warming and other environmental damage affects life now, not in some vague “I can’t decide when this occurs” time.

Show dikes protecting Riverdale from flooding. Explain how driving a hybrid car reduces pollution. Show characters wearing sunscreen and sunglasses for protection. Show characters riding motorcycles as an alternative to cars. Show characters carpooling or using public transportation. Tell of ski trips being cancelled. Show characters bringing along cloth bags while shopping. Show characters recycling plastic, glass, aluminum, and paper. Show characters using solar energy, replacing their old light bulbs with more efficient ones, and turning off the lights when they leave a room. In short, give practical advice on what we can do.

Finally, treat the issue with the seriousness that it deserves. It doesn’t have to have a “the sky is falling” tone, but it should be dramatic and cautionary.

This story is a big missed opportunity.

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Author: markmooreauthor

I love watching anime and superhero movies, and I love playing video games. I also write fan fiction and original fiction.

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