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Archie as a ginger Man from U.N.C.L.E.? – Life with Archie #57

June 4, 2013

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Did you know there were alternate Archie universes? Not that it really matters much with a character whose world has only paid the scantest heed to anything close to continuity, but there is a sort of Archie multiverse, where the “imaginary” plots exist. Check out this Wikipedia article — there’s a ton of nooks and crannies. In fact, we’ve had one on this blog before: the Christmastime hijinks of the New Archies.

They’re all a bit odd, but perhaps none of the alternate Archie-verses were as insufferable, and as annoying to type, as the Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.  

Yes, Archie had his own little mini Man from U.N.C.L.E. spin-off, where he and the rest of his Riverdale peers were secret agents — though they were perhaps the only secret agents in the history of the world who never went anywhere, instead letting the international intrigue come to them. Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead (they all went by unelaborated acronyms — A.R.C.H.I.E., etc. — but my fingers balk at such an affront) all had sideline duties for the international do-gooder organization P.O.P., which was opposed by the devilish machinations of C.R.U.S.H. It’s every bit as underwhelming as it sounds.

This edition of Life with Archie had two Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. stories within, both scripted by Frank Doyle, penciled by Bob White and inked by John D’Agostino. In the first, a C.R.U.S.H. agent called the Drummer arrives in Riverdale his rhythmic mind-control powers, and pummels Archie and all his super-spy gadgets into the ground:

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But the Drummer didn’t reckon the selfless heroism of Jughead — that and a deaf night watchman:

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The second has another C.R.U.S.H. agent using mind control to do his dirty deeds. (I’m sensing a theme.) This time it’s Birdman, who uses, yes, mechanized birds to further his nefarious plots:

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Two things: One, I don’t think it takes all that much to control Betty’s mind. Two, the bird sort of functions like Reggie Jackson’s wristwatch in The Naked Gun, right? I. Must kill. The Queen.

There’s not much that can be said about these things. If you’re not a fan of the normal Archie world, all the R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. stories do is add another layer of stupid, which is just as flat and uninspired as day old soda. If you like spy stories, perhaps you should stick to legitimate U.N.C.L.E. spinoffs, like the distaff branch of that organization. And, if you like alternate Archie-verses, maybe stick with the one that overlaps with the Punisher. And seek immediate medical attention.

A couple of years ago Tom DeFalco put out a modern Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. book, proving that there’s no force on Earth that can stop the Archie steamroller, even his dopey spinoffs. Check it out if you’re so inclined.

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