Archie Andrews is sort of like the Barbie of comics. The word on the street about Barbie (at least according to your mom’s key ring in the 80s) was that the bitch had everything. Archie, on the other hand, gets to DO everything. He battled Predator, he met Kiss, he was on Glee or whatever. He married Betty AND Veronica in parallel universes. He died and came back to life, for Christ’s sake. He has NEVER AGED. And now, of course, he gets to hang out with the one and only Ramones (in 1976, no less. Charmed life, this fucking kid) in his latest one-shot misadventure, Archie Meets Ramones #1.
Thanks to some magical mischief and an original pressing of Ramones’ iconic debut LP, the Archies are whisked back in time to 1976 New York, landing smack in front of Max’s Kansas City, where Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy are hanging out before their set. Archie and the Riverdale gang are given a shot at the stage in an attempt to win a slot in a Battle of the Bands (they choke) and then embark on a Midnight Madness-style scavenger hunt with assigned tasks based on Ramones songs (naturally I expected the obvious–a trip to Rock ‘N Roll High School–but as I read further I kinda chuckled “At least they didn’t have to go to 53rd and Th–” only to turn the page and see Jughead staring up at the street signs on the infamous corner where, according to legend, young Dee Dee Ramone would turn the occasional trick to support his heroin habit. That might have been the most hilariously fucked up moment in the history of Archie, at least for this reader). Can the Archies–semi-affectionately nicknamed “the Starchies” by Ramones–learn the real meaning of punk and win their slot in the Battle of the Bands? Will the gang make it back to present-day Riverdale in one piece? Does Juggie give out any happy endings at 53rd and 3rd? (If so, for how much?)
This is a fun read, despite a somewhat thin story driven almost solely by in-jokes–basically an excuse to send the Riverdale gang to all the places Joey Ramone sings about and place them in historic settings of punk-rock legend (Max’s, the Chelsea Hotel). Naturally, not being an Archie comic in the more adult vein of Afterlife With Archie or Sabrina, its version of the New York City punk scene is extremely sterilized; thusly, the portrayal of the band itself is what you’d expect of a cleaned-up, Archie-fied Ramones (right down to the way they’re drawn. Then again, in the Archie-verse everyone is better looking, even Predator). I found it funny and frustrating by turns; it seems as though if they were going to choose this setting they could have done it just a tiny bit more justice. But it’s Archie, and perhaps I’m taking that aspect of it too seriously. It could be because part of me wishes they’d done an Afterlife With Archie-Ramones crossover instead (the Pet Sematary reference point alone has so much more story potential to offer!), but maybe disrespect is a concern there since the band has all passed (not that I meant it as such whatsoever! I just think their penchant for horror-themed lyrics and Afterlife’s high-quality zombie story would make a killer one-shot, were Archie Horror ever so inclined). Still, if you’re an Archie fan and/or Ramones fan, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had in this issue. It’s classic Archie, doing the impossible as always.