*Spoilers ahead for Reggie And Me and Archie #24*
Archie Comics’ mini-series featuring Riverdale’s bad boy Reggie Mantle is now available in trade paperback. Issues one through five of Reggie and Me put the spotlight on Reggie through the narration of his pet dog Vader. But without his canine companion, who keeps insisting Reggie is well-liked and kind-hearted, Reggie has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He spends all five issues trying to get someone else in trouble for the chaos he creates–usually Archie Andrews. Over the course of this series however, he also manages to stir up the ire of not only Riverdale’s rival football team, but also thick-headed Moose Mason, and sweet-as-apple-pie Betty Cooper.
Of all the classic characters, Reggie seems to have gone through the most changes from the old to new Archie universe, but it’s not really for the better. He primarily used to play the role of Archie’s romantic rival, though once he had Veronica or Betty on his arm, he left well enough alone. In Reggie And Me, he has it out for everyone in a more general role of chaotic evil.
Reggie is after Midge, who is happily dating Moose. When Reggie swipes Archie’s phone, he sees an opportunity to simultaneously get Moose away from Midge and Archie into a cast (or two. Reggie ain’t picky). Enter Betty Cooper who apparently spends her entire life discreetly following Reggie around, waiting for him to do something horrible. Throw in a little school rivalry, a quarterback trying to protect his familial honor, and a Principal with a keen ear, and Reggie’s plans fall quickly apart.
Reggie’s existence frustrates nearly everyone in the main gang–not even Jughead has patience for him. However, once Vader is injured, the entire town rallies to support him. Archie forgets the fact that Reggie tried to have him expelled. Midge forgets that Reggie ignored her rejections. And Moose (who, to be fair, has never been the sharpest crayon) forgets everything and even comes to Reggie’s aid.
Perhaps the Reggie and Me miniseries is meant to garner support for its title character as his fate changes in the main Archie series. You may recall that the end of “Over the Edge” saw Reggie in handcuffs, with his father taking advantage of the situation in order to push more papers. But if that is the case, there’s still a long way to go. Arguably, Reggie is a more sympathetic character in just a few panels of Archie #24 than all of Reggie and Me combined.
Vader turns out fine, and despite all Reggie’s efforts, the whole gang winds up on each other’s good sides. Betty even apologizes for potentially misjudging him in their youth. And we end up right where we began, with a devious smirk on Reggie’s face and an aparent storm brewing in his chaotic brain.
So the question remains: why did Reggie get the spotlight? He has been a bully since day one, and while the new Archies are filling him out with a sympathetic backstory, that’s not an excuse for his mistreatment of others. Vader continually defends his owner’s horrible behavior, but the “pranks” he pulls have the potential for very real consequences.
The preview of Your Pal Archie was a palate cleanser at the end of this off-color book. Especially in today’s political and social climate, Reggie And Me feels tone deaf, almost asking readers to consider that bullies are people too, instead of admonishing bully behavior under any circumstances. If Archie writers are trying to redeem the long-held Mantle (if you’ll excuse the pun) of Riverdale’s bad boy, Reggie and Me is not a good place to start.
Story: Tom Defalco Artist: Sandy Jarrell Colorist: Kelly Fitzpatrick Letters: Jack Morell
Story: 4.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass
Archie provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review