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Crappy new versions of venerable characters. A pink stocking. IT’S A VERY NEW ARCHIES CHRISTMAS. – The New Archies #12

December 24, 2011

My parents are good people. We weren’t a rich family by any stretch of the imagination, but Christmas was always a happy time in our household while I was growing up. They made a valiant effort to satisfy my youthful greed, tolerating me as I’d go through the holiday catalogues like a snotty little bastard, circling the plastic garbage that I wanted wrapped up under the tree OR ELSE. They laughed me off when I’d beg for one of those lame gigantic remote-controlled robots that were a staple of the Sears/Montgomery Wards wares, but more often than not Santa showed up with a lot of the crap that fulfilled all my youthful desires. It was generous parental indulgence.

It sometimes came with a price, though. I can remember my mother, as I was tearing paper off of boxes like a whirling banshee, reminding me that there were a lot of people less fortunate out there. This would strike like a depressing bolt out of the blue. I understand what she was going for. She wanted to remind me that, well, that there were people less fortunate out there. To count my blessings. It was a good intention, but it would take a lot of air out of the balloon. A buzz-kill. Debbie Downer.

There’s an undeniable impulse to put a damper on Christmas cheer, to take the edge off the sugar. Take a dump in the nutmeg. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, whether it’s mothers or storytellers. We’ve seen that transfer over to comics, and in more than one place.

I can think of nothing — NOTHING — more sugary sweet than an Archie Christmas tale. Nothing could need a takedown more than that. AND THIS COMIC DELIVERS BIGTIME.

And this is no ordinary Archie book. These are the New Archies, one of many misguided attempts (the Muppet Babies are at the front of that list) to update a venerable property. The flagship was a short-lived cartoon (centered around younger, slightly altered versions of Archie, Jughead, et al.), and that in turn spun off this equally short-lived comic.

It was like Ultimate Archie, and it was worthy of a Punisher rampage. But it gave us this happy/sad/happy again story. where the gang comes face to face with an old guy living in an alleyway cardboard box. Strap in.

If you’re not in the right mood, here’s an AIDS PSA to get you in the proper key for a Christmas dirge:

We open this Mike Pellowski/Henry Scarpelli carol with Mr. Andrews fully enmeshed in the second pain of Christmas:

YOU’RE SO SMART, YOU PUT THEM UP!

Downer time. Even Riverdale (or New Riverdale, as the case may be) has a homeless problem — but at least they’re cheery Riverdaley homeless, with whiskers and patched jeans and no paranoid schizophrenia:

A conscience-ridden Archie decides to bring old Jake (*cough* Elizabeth Smart *cough*) home like a wayward pup, prompting Mr. Andews to undergo the fastest change of heart in the history of comics:

A shave and some fresh clothes later and Jake’s a brand new de-aged James Broliny man:

An electrician you say? Hey, wasn’t Mr. Andrews having problems with the lights?:

Oh my God — if Joe had AIDS, this story would be perfect! PERFECT!

Merry Christmas.

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