If you have watched any significant amount of television in the past forty years, you probably will recognize a common stock plot for various sitcoms and dramas: Female Character falls for suddenly introduced Bad Boy and begins to wreak a path of rebellion to be with him. Her friends are concerned and try to stop her, but she continues, only so see the light at the end and return to the status quo. That 70's Show did this. Seventh Heaven did this. It was probably old news when Happy Days did it. Sometimes it appears literary form, such as in Runaway of the Sweet Valley High series.
No trend is too outdated and no cliche too overplayed for Archie Comics, so in 2007, they made an attempt at using this plot device as a dramatic tale to launch their new series. And while I love Archie in spite of its cheese and a lot of the time, for its cheese, even I'm questioning this one.
I have not read this particular story, but I want to get my hands on a copy, because it sounds positively LOLrarious. If your library offers Hoopla Digital Services, they have plenty of Archie stories available. (If your home library does not offer Hoopla, but another library in your county does, you might be able to switch your home library to that one and access the services. It's worth a shot.) Sadly, I have not been able to find this one on there, so I'll just be dissecting the summary from Wikipedia.
While this story was advertised as "a totally new Archie experience!! (sic)," Mister Kitty's hard-hitting exposé revealed that Bad Boy Trouble was, in fact, based on the Archie Comics novel Bad News Boyfriend published in 1991. So, while Archie still got to the "rebellious bad boy causes trouble in suburbia" trend belatedly, it wasn't quite as late as you might think. They just lied by saying the story was "totally new."
Our story starts with Midge, Betty, and Veronica going to the movies and meeting Nick St. Clair (the bad boy from the Sweet Valley High book, published in 1985, was named Nicky, so perhaps Archie Comics took inspiration from that). Nick is new in town because he was expelled from his previous school, and he drives a motorcycle. Veronica promptly ditches Betty and Midge to go a pizzeria with him, where Nick gets into a fight with some bikers. Veronica arrives home past curfew, leading Mr. Lodge to forbid her from seeing him again. Midge warns Veronica that she can't juggle Archie and Nick forever (because it's not like Archie had been juggling Betty and Veronica , not to mention Cheryl and whoever else, for over fifty years at this point). Predictably, when faced with such a trying choice, Veronica ditches Archie for Nick. In fairness, Nick's motorcycle is probably more reliable than Archie's jalopy.
To prove his """bad boy""" cred, Nick disrupts Professor Flutesnoot's class with chicken noises, and Archie dimes him out for it. I realize drugs were probably far off the table, but couldn't Nick at least been smoking or drinking to prove how "bad" he was? Is the point supposed to be that he's a poseur? Thinking about it, while Jason Blossom was once arrested for underage drinking on the beach, I can never recall drugs or tobacco appearing in Archie Comics, not even as a "Just say no" PSA. Perhaps they thought it was completely inappropriate content, even if it featured the Archie Gang rejecting such illicit substances? I imagine both Mr. Lodge and Mr. Andrews both smoked a tobacco pipe back in the 40's and 50's, though.
So Nick keeps causing trouble at Riverdale High, causes a rift in the Archie Gang! Only Betty, Dilton, and Jughead are willing to sit with Veronica and Nick at lunch--Moose, Midge, Archie, Chuck, and Nancy all get up and leave when the two try to sit at the lunch. No word on Reggie and his exploits, but I like to imagine he tried to team up with Nick to be "bad boys" together, and then ditched him when he realized what a loser Nick was.
Veronica apparently goes out to a nightclub with Nick (pretty risqué for Archie Comics! Do you think they're implying there was liquor involved?) and kisses him (hot first base action, y'all!) . At school, Miss Grundy assigns 2,000 word essay and threatens to fail anyone who doesn't complete it. This type of academic threat is relayed pretty often in TV, movies, and books, but I don't know if it really could happen in real life, though my knowledge of the school system is admittedly limited. While certainly neglecting to complete a significant assignment could lower a student's grade from passing to failing if they already had a C average for the class, I don't think a teacher could fail an A average student for the entire year just because they didn't complete this one essay.
Nick tries to bully Dilton (for those who don't remember, Dilton is super smart and frequently devises impossible inventions), but Archie stops him. Nick and Archie almost fight, but Coach Clayton stops them and suggests they work it out in a boxing match. This is another thing super common in media, but I don't see a seasoned authority figure suggesting to two hot-blooded teenagers that they work out their problems by hitting each. Running a race? Swimming a race? Weightlifting competition? Sure. But a contact sport? I'm skeptical.
Archie wins the boxing match, because he's the main character. Betty sets up a ruse to convince Nick to cheat on Veronica with her, and for Veronica to witness it. And Veronica does, and dumps Nick, but she also dumps Betty as her best friend.
Reggie makes an appearance (yay, Reggie!) to tell Betty that Nick was caught cheating on Miss Grundy's essay by turning in a paper Veronica wrote for him (Damn, she must have really liked this guy, huh?). I guess he and Reggie must have been hanging out together, after all, because Nick tells Reggie to tell everyone goodbye for him. Nancy explains why Betty made a pass at Nick to Veronica, and Veronica forgives Betty. And thus the status quo is safely restored, and they go back to their eternally uninteresting fight over Archie (Insert sigh of dismay here).
While this book does sound like a pile of cliches either way, I'd love to read either edition. And now I'm somewhat inspired to write a version where instead of Veronica becoming involved with a bad boy, it's Kevin Keller who becomes dazzled at the sight of a leather jacket-wearing motorcyclist.
Has anyone else read Bad Boy Trouble? Does anyone else want to? Let me know your opinion on this tale of teenagers in Riverdale facing trials!