Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I have a genuine fascination - and even great affection - for Al Hartley's almost-entirely self-produced line of Spire Comics, a series of Christian Evangelical comics created in the 1970s and 1980s. A decent number of the copious titles from the publisher were adaptations of inspirational works like "The Cross and the Switchblade" and "Hansi, The Girl Who Loved the Swastika," while there were a number of original titles like "Adventures With The Brothers," "Barney Bear" and assorted one-shots like "Adam&Eve" and "Noah's Ark." And, believe you me, I'll get to all of them in time.

The highest-profile component of the Spire publishing plan was the collection of Archie Comics-associated titles, books in which the Riverdale gang and their copious sins were put on display for the mockery and judgement of, typically, Betty Cooper, her flawless complexion split by a rictus of an ecstatic smile.

None of the Archie cast really gets away without a skewering, although -- like in the mainstream Archie titles themselves -- Archie and Jughead often get to play the heroes of the stories. Big Ethel, portrayed at the time as a man-hungry gargoyle (hey every time period before now and also including now, how's the denigration of women coming along?) was usually a beneficiary of God's loving grace. Everyone else took it in the breadbasket.

Particularly Reggie Mantle. Whether Hartley had a personal mad-on for Archie Andrews' perpetual frenemy or Reggie was just a convenient one-stop target, I couldn't say. While Jughead was frequently excoriated for his gluttony, Veronica for her greed and Moose for his wrath (then I looked and saw a pale horse. Its rider's name was Death), Reggie got blasted and dragged for vanity, womanizing, pride, pettiness, general sneering and being a dick mostly I think.

Take, for instance, Reggie being a self-satisfied preener (from Archie's Sonshine):

An unrelenting vulgarian and bully (Also from Archie's Sonshine):

A symbol of the folly of vanity (Archie's Parables):

Also he's into scrapbooking, which is a step too far
And a raging hypocrite (Archie's Sonshine again):

But, mostly, Hartley seemed to have Reggie pegged as, um ... a date rapist (Archie's Love Scene):

And also from Archie's Love Scene:

I assume that's roofie fumes or something.
And even when he wasn't providing a moral example, he was still a horrible shit. Check out the look he's giving Jughead for being some sort of fucking Commie or something (Archie's Parables):

He literally cannot fucking believe you right now, Jughead.
But as much as Hartley murks Reggie in these books, at least he never does to him what he did to Principal Weatherbee, with a "666" and everything (Archie's Parables):

Next issue: Obersturmbannf├╝hrer Flutesnoot

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