At CBR, Jeffrey Renaud reminds us that “as a writer and editor, industry legend Tom DeFalco has told stories with heavyweight heroes ranging from the Amazing Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four to G.I. Joe and the Transformers. So when he calls Reggie Mantle a ‘sinister super-villain,’ you might want to pay attention.”
What prompts this cautionary note is that DeFalco is writing a new on-going series at Archie Comics — namely, Reggie and Me, about Archie’s presumed rival. Predictably, Archie Comics, having produced a line of titles for slightly older readers with the new Archie, Jughead, and Betty & Veronica books, now turns to the only other main character without a title of his own, the unlikable Reggie Mantle.
DeFalco started his career at Archie, so he’ll be coming “home” in some sense. Renaud asked him several impertinent questions about the new Reggie book, and DeFalco responded in kind.
About Reggie, DeFalco said: “Classic Reggie was a prankster, but he was always rather harmless. He was also one of Archie’s friends, and a member of the gang. The current Reggie is an outsider. Yes, the other guys want to be like him and the girls want to be with him, but he is no longer a member of the gang.”
Renaud: You say he’s one of your favorite characters. You admit that he’s been called a self-aggrandizing egotist, a sinister super-villain, a merciless monster and worse. So — what’s to love?
DeFalco: What’s not to love? He drives the best cars and throws the wildest parties. He is also the closest thing Riverdale has to a supervillain and everyone loves a great villain.
Renaud: Is Reggie Mantle misunderstood?
DeFalco: Absolutely! A lot of people assume he has some redeeming characteristics. [Laughs]
Renaud: Can you confirm today that the ‘me’ of Reggie and Me is in fact Reggie’s dog, Vader?
DeFalco: I could, but why spoil the surprise?
Renaud: Will you be telling done-in-one stories in Reggie and Me or will the stories be longer arcs?
DeFalco: I will be doing both. Every individual issue will be a done-in-one, but the stories will build upon each other to form larger arcs. I never make life easy for myself.
Renaud: What can you tell us about the first story that you have planned?
DeFalco: Reggie throws a party and things go sour for everyone… except Reg. Also, we learn the not-so-secret origin of Vader.
The first issue hit the stands on December 7, illustrated by Sandy Jarrell, Kelly Fitzpartrick, and Jack Morelli. In writing the story, DeFalco deploys as narrator Reggie’s dog Vader — obviously, the only living thing that could like the guy.
Alas, this revamp isn’t gonna work, kimo sabe. (But three out of four for Archie ain’t bad.) Reggie isn’t “evil” per se: he’s merely a more viciously inclined than usual case of adolescent angst. Self-centered to an extreme degree, he’s about wreaking petty revenge for every perceived slight. Not an attractive personality. Why would anyone want to follow the so-called adventures of such a repulsive character?
Only to see him get his comeuppance, which doesn’t happen in this first issue. The drawings are usually adequate but no better than that, and sometimes the “new look” of stiffness gets awkward. And the backgrounds, rendered with a straight-edge ruler, are sterile and uninhabited. Reggie’s only redeeming characteristic: he is infatuated with Midge, who is Moose Mason’s girl. Unrequited, Reggie earns a little of our sympathy. But not enough. I won’t be back.