Written by Alex Segura & Matthew Rosenberg
Pencils by Joe Eisma
Colors by Matt Herms
Lettered by Jack Moreill
“The local rock group down the street/Is trying hard to learn their song…”
Last time I checked in with the Archies, they were getting into all sorts of hi-jinx with the Ramones. In that tale, I was a tad disappointed because of how I thought the guests were portrayed as not true to their flesh-and-blood counterparts. But here, in Archie Comics #4, where the gang from Riverdale teams up with the ‘60s pop concoction The Monkees, the results are sweeter than bubblegum. Indeed, this outing with the Pre-Fab Four is a breezy and lighthearted romp that will tug at the heartstrings of nostalgia while also introducing a new audience to the comedic stylings of Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, and Davy Jones (of blessed memory). Hey hey!
The plot for this issue is straightforward but fun. Continuing their tour across America, the Archies are playing a somewhat lackluster gig when, all of the sudden, a disgruntled member of the audience throws a shoe squarely at Archie Andrews’ face. The now-knocked out Archie wakes up in an earlier era, and wackily enough, sees “that cute little boyman” Davy being kidnapped by some mysterious thugs. The rest of the issue sees the Archies teaming up with the Peter, Micky, and Mike to find out the no-gooders behind the abduction, while also competing in a battle of the bands competition (the gig takes place at a volcano, no less). Along the way, spandex costumes and musical instruments materialize, there’s a fight with a gorilla, and the combined gang of the Arches and the Monkees have to fend off robots and critics alike.
“Why don’t you do what I do, see what I feel when I care?”
It’s clear that writers Alex Segura and Matthew Rosenberg had a hell of a lot of fun writing this issue. Practically from the first panel, readers step into a mad story that is both completely, classically bonkers while also being an engaging page-turner. My thoughts always strayed to: what are these crazy kids going to run into next?! One of my criticisms about the Archie Meets the Ramones story was that this freewheeling attitude didn’t mesh with the persona of that the Ramones cultivated during their careers; there was too much darkness to the Ramones story. In their time, however, the Monkees were the height of primetime tomfoolery with every episode of their eponymous sitcom existing as a mini-A Hard Day’s Night. Kitschy stories and memorable tunes went hand in hand perfectly with the Monkees, and Segura and Rosenberg re-conjure that conviction in these pages. Likewise, the artistic team of Joe Eisma (pencils) and Matt Herms (colors) do an exquisite job of re-orienting the modern Archie crew back to the bright and carefree palette of the go-go sixties. (It is a pity, though, that we don’t get any scenes of Nesmith punching a hole through a wall.)
Seeing the Archies hanging around The Monkees in their prime means there is great fun to be had. There’s also something quite amusing in the ink and paper interactions between the bands. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the Monkees’ need to wrestle artistic control away from producer Don Kirshner, we wouldn’t be tapping our feet to the diabetic grooves of “Sugar, Sugar.” So, in the end, what’s the takeaway here? Archie Comics #4 is a lighthearted, and worthy entry in the pantheon of stories of the Archie crew meeting icons of yesteryear.
If there’s any chance for a direct sequel to this issue, this has to come into play somewhere!
And, for good measure: