- Posted by Johanna on April 12, 2008 at 8:08 am
- Category: Archie Comics
Life With Archie was a strange title, containing longer stories far from the usual teenage humor. Take, for example, this issue. #125 was dated September 1972, and it opens with a gothic tale of supernatural danger in which Betty nearly comes to a literal cliff-hanging end. It’s called “Nightmare Nursery”.
Mr. Lodge has just bought a new abandoned mansion, and he’s taking Archie, Veronica, Jughead, and Betty to check it out. The overwritten caption illustrates the richly pungent, adjective-heavy style of the story:
It was big all right! And old! And somehow obscenely ugly, as it squatted like a giant bloated toad, overlooking the endless sea –
Mr. Lodge gets a call on his car phone, requesting his presence elsewhere, and the kids decide to stay and wait for him to return for them.
No one ever explains why the gang is so eager to hang around this deserted old house they keep calling “weird” and “scary”. They wander upstairs to the nursery, and then comes page five:
The teddy bear has hypnotized her! She gets “horrible” Little Orphan Annie eyes! And then she tries to jump out the window.
Thankfully, Archie’s there to save her. Boy, the imaginations on those two! As they ponder the toy’s “Satanic sweet smile”, Jughead’s saving Betty from a stone bust trying to fall on her in the hall. (I should have scanned that panel, where he launches a football tackle to her back to get her out of the way.)
Juggie’s the voice of reason, saying it’s all imagination, while Archie and Veronica, instead of getting OUT OF THE HOUSE, stand around telling Betty she’s now cursed.
An old coot of a neighbor (who refers to himself as “just harmless old Ben”) wanders by to tell them a story about the evil governess who performed “black rites” and tried to kill the child who lived there. No one thinks to keep an eye on Betty during this recitation, and that’s how we get the climax, where she heads for the nearby rocky cliff, teddy bear in hand:
So it turns out Archie and Veronica were right, there are evil things beyond the physical world, and … what message are we supposed to take away from this, exactly? Beware of toys in deserted old mansions? Don’t trust your friends to take care of you even if they’re convinced you’re possessed?
Oh, darn! Now I’ve got that Rocky Horror song stuck in my head! “When Eddy said he didn’t love his teddy, you knew he was a no-good kid…”