By: Mark Henely
For a teenager who has never left his hometown, Archie has met a lot of celebrities. He’s rubbed elbows with the likes of The Punisher, KISS, Simon Cowell, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Strahan, George Takei, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Predator, the Sharknado, the kids from Glee, Sarah Palin, and President Barack Obama himself. This week, Archie adds another illustrious name to that list: The Ramones.
This is an interesting pairing because the two entities of Archie Comics and The Ramones couldn’t be any farther apart at the time the Ramones formed in 1974. This was only 4 short years after The Archies released their #1 hit single “Sugar Sugar” (That’s right, there was a point in American history where the cartoon band the Archies released a song called “Sugar Sugar” and it was the biggest hit of 1969). It’s not hard to imagine the Ramones being unimpressed with the Archies contribution to popular music and it not hard to imagine that the Archie Comics of 1974 not wanting to associate with Punk Rock music. It’s taken 40 years for the hard image of punk to soften and for the conservative mindset of Archie comics to loosen up enough for these two brands to meet in the middle. So, what happens when these titans clash?
The story revolves around Archie having “The Worst Band in the World’. He’s about to lose the talent show when Sabrina the Teenage Witch sends him and his band back in time to learn how to be a great band from the Ramones. It’s a strange, but relatively straight forward story that mostly hits the mark. At its best points, it really communicates the importance of not taking your performance on stage too seriously. Loosen up on stage, have fun, and the audience will feel it. At its worse, it is a fist full of clunky ham-fisted references to Ramones songs.
There is a right way and a wrong way to pay tribute to the Ramones in this book and this book showcases both methods. The right way is to have easter eggs. For instance, there is a part where they are standing next to a street sign for 53rd Ave and 3rd (a reference to the song). The wrong way is when they actually go to Rock and Roll High School, Rockaway Beach, and the Pet Cemetery. The trips get in the way of the plot while the easter eggs add a little spice to the story.
Gisele Lagace does an incredible job on art in this book. The Ramones look like the Ramones and they look cool. She also has a lot of fun with drawing the Archies in different outfits (both punk and non-punk). There’s also a seen at the end with Archie and Sabrina where she shows that Sabrina is flirting with him even though the dialogue never indicates it explicitly. It’s great stuff.