Review by Win Wiacek
In this paperback and digital collection, Archie, Betty, Veronica and the extended cast of the small-town American Follies are again plunged deep into whimsy and fable as writers Fernando Ruiz, Batton Lash, Dan Parent and George Gladir delve into the Dark Side for a selection of spooky spoofs and all-ages arcane adventure
The weird wonders begin with Ruiz and Mark McKenna’s ‘…Clothes Make the Monster’ as the gang opt for a Halloween costume party at Riverdale High only to fall foul of a sinister sorceress whose bewitched outfits transform the kids into the monsters they’re dressed as. Thankfully resident genius Dilton Doily has a plan and an unsuspected talent.
An extended gothic extravaganza that ran across a host of titles follows. The six chapter epic ‘…This Old House…’ was devised by Lash and Stan Goldberg (sample art) and opens when Reggie vandalises a ramshackle, condemned property. It sparks heated debate amongst the gang, all of whom have sentimental memories of the old pile from their younger days. With the city council being urged to finally pull it down the teens are divided between demolition and declaring it a local landmark.
The politicking ensues in ‘House of Riverdale! Part 1’ even as Archie is plagued by nightmares of the dilapidated dwelling’s old occupants. Second chapter ‘Thou Protest Too Much…’ finds the gang on a picket line preserving the building until Veronica’s dad delivers good news. It turns out that it might not be good news, though, as in a nearby town Sabrina (the Teenaged Witch) pores over ancient records of the original inhabitants and readies herself to intervene. The tension increases in ‘House of Riverdale! Part 3’ as Betty also does a little digging and connects the seemingly-benevolent name Father Riverdale to a nasty piece of work named Leander van Dermeulen whose 19th century crusade against progress resulted in a magic cult, a police shootout and a dying curse.
Fourth chapter ‘Worn Out Welcome’ finds the terrified Archie reversing his position and petitioning the council to tear down the house before the curse can be reactivated. Betty meanwhile, sneaks into the house to find… ‘House of Riverdale! Part 5’ sees Archie call on trusted comrade Jughead for help before everything comes to a head in ‘Fall of the House of Riverdale!’ As the malign ghost of van Dermeulen meets his match in ultra-nonconformist Juggy, unlikely hero Archie takes drastic action to save the day. With the main event concluded, lighter fare follows as Betty and Veronica discover ‘An Axe to Grind’, with Dan Parent revealing how the boys’ plans to crash a girls-only Halloween party go appallingly awry.
Before the final tale we have a gallery of faux movie posters ‘Riverdale Style’, fashions and tips for ‘The Ultimate Halloween Bash!’ plus recipes and treats for all ‘Archie Zombies’. The spooky shenanigans conclude with Gladir and Ruiz’s ‘For Monsters Only!’ This sly shocker finds Archie and Jughead in full vampire ensemble but stumbling into a sinister soiree for actual devils, demons and creatures of the night.
Co-starring all the adorable supporting characters we know and love, these smartly beguiling skits are a marvellous example of why Archie has been unsurpassed in this genre for generations. It provides all-ages fun and wholesome teen entertainment – complete with goblins, ghosts and ghouls as required.