Hi, everyone. Welcome to my blog, Riverdale Reviewed. Some of you might know me from my previous episode-review blog, Hey Dude Reviewed. As I was nearing the end of that blog, I started thinking about what I wanted to review next. I went though many different possibilities.
Then the answer suddenly hit me one day: “Riverdale“, the first live-action adaptation of the primary Archie Comics characters to make it to series.
In retrospect, it’s the most obvious – and perfect – decision. I’m a longtime Archie Comics fan (since 1990), and I’ve been involved in the online Archie Comics fandom, in one form or another, since 1999.
You might be wondering: “‘Riverdale’? So you’ll be posting 13-22 times per year?” No! I will not be reviewing just “Riverdale”, because that would be a sporadic blog! I will also be reviewing other television adaptations of Archie Comics – and even the sole theatrical film so far. In addition to “Riverdale”, this blog will also primarily focus on “The New Archies” (1987) and “Archie’s Weird Mysteries” (1999-2000), usually alternating between the two. In addition, I will review at least one episode each of each of the other Archie Comics adaptations – as well as some other stuff like comics and novels – as a sort of guided tour / sampling of Archie’s history, which will give context for the three primary series. If this blog happens to last long enough (Goddess willing), I might upgrade another series to primary status once I finish one, but this isn’t intended to be the be-all and end-all of Archie blogs. As a general rule, if “Riverdale” is airing a new episode, that will be the next review; if it’s a repeat or off the schedule for a while, you’ll get something else. Exciting, isn’t it?! Well, it is for me; it changes things up a bit, so I’m not constantly reviewing the same series.
For those of you that might be unfamiliar with Archie Comics, there’s one important thing to remember: there is no continuity – until there is. The vast majority of stories are stand-alone. Occasionally, the company has experimented with multi-part stories, inter-title crossovers, and the rare odd reference to an ancient story, but this is a “universe” in which the primary characters are constantly in the vague time period of junior-senior year of high school, so, out of necessity, most older comic stories have to fall by the wayside, because there simply isn’t room for all of them to occur. Also, the characters’ years of birth have to, logically, increase by one every year, so they simply won’t have experienced things that the characters did, say, eighteen years ago. Technology, fashion, and entertainment are constantly changing, and so must the characters.
It’s not just a lack of continuity between individual stories, though. The characters don’t have many consistent traits from one story to another. The gang could be into sports – or not. The girls could be cheerleaders – or not. The length of time that the characters have known each other often varies to suit a particular story. The cars driven by most of the characters (Archie being the notable exception) constantly change. The layouts of the houses, school, and even the entire town constantly change. The jobs of most of the parents, if they’re even specified, don’t remain set in stone (Mr. Lodge, Mr. Mantle, and Mr. Blossom are notable exceptions). Even some characters’ names have changed over the decades!
Yes, decades. These characters have been around for a long time. The Archieverse began in Pep Comics, No. 22 (cover-dated December of 1941) and has since been detailed in thousands of stories, mostly comics and mostly 5-6 pages long but also including quite a few novels, a long-running old-time radio series, numerous television series, a few movies, and more. If all of this sounds daunting, don’t worry; you don’t have to understand any one story to understand any other…for the most part. Here are lists of the primary and some of the secondary characters (with brief descriptions), locations, and significant alternate universes in the Archie multiverse (yes, multiverse):
Archibald “Archie” Andrews
America’s “typical” teenager, Archie is possibly the most irritating and unremarkable character in the franchise and wouldn’t be important at all except for the fact that he’s the star. He’s the center of a love triangle (or sometimes rectangle) between Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge (and, often, Cheryl Blossom). Often clumsy, forgetful, and womanizing (even though he’s really not that attractive, girls often seem drawn to him), Archie also tries to do good but often fails. He’s the leader and lead vocalist / guitarist of his garage band, The Archies. He’s also the bane of Mr. Lodge’s and Mr. Weatherbee’s existence.
Parents: Fred Andrews, Mary Andrews
Elizabeth “Betty” Cooper
The “girl next door”, Betty is usually kind and sweet but also fights with her “best friend”, Veronica Lodge, over Archie. A tomboy, Betty is often into sports and is a skilled mechanic, often being called on by Archie to fix his piece-of-shit car, usually so he can take Veronica out. She plays the tambourine (and sometimes the guitar) in The Archies and is also a vocalist. Betty is one of my two favorite characters.
Parents: Harold “Hal” Cooper, Alice Cooper; Siblings: Polly Cooper (older sister, news reporter, not seen often), Chic Cooper (older brother, spy, rarely seen or acknowledged)
The rich bitch with a secret heart of gold, Veronica Lodge is the spoiled, pampered daughter of billionaires. She fights with her “best friend”, Betty, over Archie and is more inclined to use dirty tricks than Betty. She plays the keyboard in The Archies and is also a vocalist.
Parents: Hiram Lodge (business tychoon and the wealthiest man in Riverdale), Hermione Lodge
Forsythe “Jughead” Pendleton Jones III
Archie’s best friend, Jughead is a slacker but also secretly brilliant (when the story calls for it). He loves to eat and sleep, but he has a super metabolism that keeps him constantly slim. He’s usually not into girls and is just generally weird, but he’ll stick up for a friend that he feels is being wronged. He’s the drummer of The Archies.
Parents: Forsythe Pendleton Jones II, Gladys Jones; Siblings: Forsythia “Jellybean” Jones (younger sister)
Reginald “Reggie” Mantle
The town prankster and comedian, Reggie’s a bit of an ass. He likes girls as much as Archie. He’s richer than most of his friends, but he’s not wealthy. He’s often seen as the fifth wheel of the gang, who are referred to as “the core four”. However, Reggie is also often seen as part of “the core five”. He plays the bass guitar in The Archies.
Parents: Richard “Ricky” Mantle (editor of the town newspaper), Vicky Mantle; Siblings: Oliver Mantle (older brother, LWA continuity only)
Basically a meaner version of Veronica, Cheryl isn’t as established as many of the other characters, having been introduced in 1982 (and disappearing from 1984 to 1994). There’s little to like about her, but, deep down, she’s not all bad, and she can even be friendly on occasion. She plays important roles in the LWA and AWA continuities (see below), and “Riverdale” marks her first appearance outside of print. I consider Cheryl to be part of “the core six”, and she and Betty are my favorite characters.
Parents: Clifford Blossom (software engineer), Penelope Blossom; Siblings: Jason Blossom (slightly younger twin brother)
The principal of Riverdale High School, Mr. Weatherbee has to deal with all kinds of shit from his students – especially Archie!
A teacher at Riverdale High School, Miss Grundy is often shown teaching history, geography, math, English, or literature.
He is mainly shown teaching science subjects, but he has been shown to teach other subjects as well.
The resident school nerd, Dilton is a genius and often works on experiments and inventions in his lab in his garage.
Marmaduke “Moose” Mason
The resident dumb jock, Moose has “dyslexia” as a PC cover-up for his stupidity. He has a violent temper and will often beat up anyone that shows interest in his girlfriend, Midge. Reggie is particularly a victim of this.
Moose’s girlfriend and Reggie’s love interest, Midge is pretty bland.
Chuck is an aspiring cartoonist and sometimes plays sports.
Previously known as Nancy Harris (a name which still shows up sometimes in reprints) as well as Nancy Baker and Nancy Jackson, Nancy is Chuck’s girlfriend and the token black friend of the main girls.
Cheryl’s slightly younger twin brother, Jason is as bad as his sister. He has a crush on Betty.
A tall, skinny, dorky girl, Ethel is in love with Jughead, who doesn’t like her and tries to avoid her.
An aspiring journalist, Kevin is an Army brat and openly gay.
Brigitte is an aspiring musician.
Raj is an aspiring filmmaker.
Tina is Raj’s genius younger sister and is also in the same grade as the other characters.
A Hispanic girl, Ginger is a friend to the other girls and works for a fashion magazine, dividing her time between Riverdale and New York City.
More recently known as Harry Clayton, he’s a coach at Riverdale High School and is also Chuck’s father.
The school cafeteria cook, she’s not particularly good at it. She’s also kind of grouchy.
The school custodian, Mr. Svenson is Swedish and talks with a thick accent that makes him difficult to understand.
Often simply referred to by his last name, Smithers is the Lodge family’s faithful butler.
Terry “Pop” Tate
Known by varying first names in the comics, Pop is the owner of the old-fashioned soda shop, which serves as the local teen hangout, in Riverdale.
Josephine “Josie” McCoy
Previously known as Josie Jones and Josie James, Josie is the lead singer and lead guitarist of the rock band, Josie and the Pussycats.
Previously known as Melody Jones, Melody is the bubbly, dim-witted drummer of Josie and the Pussycats. Carefree and irresistably attractive to guys, Melody is a source of optimism.
Also known as Valerie Smith (both surnames seem to be equally valid), Valerie is the bass guitarist (shows and movie) or tambourine player (comics) of Josie and the Pussycats. Tomboyish and quick-tempered, Valerie is also smart and the primary songwriter.
A “half-witch” (mortal mother, witch father), Sabrina lives with her two aunts and sometimes interacts with Archie and the gang.
Sabrina’s familiar, he’s a former witch that was turned into a cat as punishment for world domination attempts.
Riverdale High School
This is the school that the teens attend. Like all locations in Archie Comics, its layout and history are inconsistent.
Pop’s Chocolate Shop
Though the exact name varies from story to story, this is the local teen hangout. While attempts have been made to modernize it over the decades, it still comes across as an old-style diner and soda shop.
Sometimes known by different names (or they might be different malls, but that’s unlikely), this is where the teens do their shopping.
This is the private school that Cheryl and Jason Blossom attend. Well, they did until recently. Cheryl now seems to attend Riverdale High in the classic Archieverse and also did so in LWA continuity, but she attended Pembrooke Academy in AWA continuity before the world went to hell, and she Lycee Camembert in Switzerland in New Riverdale continuity before transferring to Riverdale High. See below for explanations of alternate universes. The exact status of Pembrooke seems to be contradicted in the comics. Either it’s its own town, or it’s an exclusive community within Riverdale.
The gang hangs out here a lot during the summer.
Significant Alternate Universes
Life With Archie: The Married Life (LWA)
A magazine series that ran from 2010 to 2014, this series chronicled two possible futures: one in which Archie marries Veronica and one in which he marries Betty. Its canonical status regarding past events and details is unclear. Cheryl Blossom eventually had a significant storyline in the Bettyverse, battling breast cancer. The community rallied in support of her, and she became, in Reggie’s words, “Riverdale’s heart”.
Afterlife With Archie (AWA)
A Teen+ series that started in 2013 (and suffering multiple delays along the way, most notably a one-year gap between issues #8 and #9), it chronicles the gang’s fight for survival in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Cheryl Blossom possibly murders her brother, Jason, but it’s unclear, much like the incestuous relationship that she might have had with him. She is judged by her fellow survivors and allowed to stay with them, and she shares something significant with the other female survivors, but it’s unclear what it is. This is particularly notable, because this series is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who is involved in the development, writing, and production of the “Riverdale” live-action television series.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (CAS)
A Teen+ series that started in 2014 (and suffering multiple delays along the way), it’s set in the 1960s. This series is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa as well.
New Riverdale (NR)
This is Archie Comics’ term for their relaunch of the various titles as Teen+ series with a more realistic art style and a greater focus on ongoing storylines. Started in 2015, it’s not really accurate to call it a “reboot”, since the classic Archieverse continues on (albeit in a much diminished capacity) with new stories appearing in the digests (those thick books that you see in checkout lanes). New Riverdale is now the source of the largest amount of new material from Archie Comics, for better or worse.
I’ll update and add to the items listed on this page as needed.
If any of this sounds interesting to you, feel free to stick around and join me…in a little town called Riverdale.
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