Archie - Archie Meets Ramones [comic] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Archie Meets Ramones [comic] (2016)

Archie comics

There was a time when I was a regular comic book reader. In the mid-90’s I followed a handful of titles and still have boxes of The Punisher and Lobo in my basement to prove it. Comics were one of the things I gave up in my late 20’s when I had kids. Fast forward 17 years and my oldest son is now big into comics. We hit the shops together once in awhile, and I’ve even taken to picking up the occasional graphic novel or trade paperback. When the Archie Meets Ramones crossover was announced, I knew I’d have to add it to my eclectic and sporadic collection.

I waited a little too long to pick the issue up, so I didn’t have a choice of which cover variant I bought. That being said, I’m very happy with the one I got. It’s the stunning black and white and orange one by Francesco Frandavilla. My second choice of the six would have been the black and white and pink one by Dan Parent. It’s clearly an homage to the Rocket to Russia LP, but I digress. Anyway, the cover art is cool, but it’s not really indicative of what’s inside. The story is drawn and inked in the modern Archie style, which is little more than an updated, glossy take on classic Archie. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy are portrayed with a little more realism, and they look as they appeared on the cover of the first album.

***Spoiler alert*** The convoluted plot revolves around Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica’s band The Archies. (There’s also a tool of a bass player named Reggie that I’m not really familiar with.) After a lousy performance at a Riverdale battle of the bands, spirits are low and it looks like they’re going to throw in the towel. Archie’s friend (the cartoon hot Sabrina) puts on very special Ramones album to inspire him. The record starts up and the whole band is magically transported to a battle of the bands at CBGB’s in 1976. First prize is a signed copy of Ramones, which the gang will obviously need to get back home to the present. After another pitiful performance, they turn to the Ramones for advice.

Eventually the Ramones give them a list of things to to do to make their band great. All the tasks are based on Ramones songs. (Never mind the fact that most of those songs came after ‘76.) They go to gym class at Rock and Roll High School, visit the Pet Sematary,and hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach before meeting up with the Ramones at the corner of 53rd and 3rd. Yes, it’s as corny as it sounds. The newly punked up Archies manage to win the record with their spirited version of “I Don’t Wanna Go Down in the Basement”. When they magically get back to Riverdale, they win that battle of the bands too. This time it’s by playing “Judy is a Punk”. There’s also a little backstory involving Archie’s dad and the Ramones, but I won't give away everything.

The writers don’t seem to have any particular insight into the Ramones’ individual personalities. Any of the generic lines could have been delivered by any of the generic Ramones. As lame as the story line is, I mostly enjoyed reading it. I know that the Archie comics have tried to update their brand and tackle more serious issues, but this one-off is pure Americana. Ramones are a band that’s always been capable of existing at a bubblegum level, and that image works for this. (Most of us know there’s a lot of darkness just below the surface. Luckily they don’t have to resort to Jughead turning tricks.) It’s kind of hard to score this. I wouldn’t exactly call it good, but I’m not sorry I bought it. It’s just a silly diversion, and something I suspect the Ramones themselves would have approved of. If nothing else, it’s nice to look at. Here’s hoping for The Punisher Meets Negative Approach.