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Jughead's Short-Lived Late 1980s Love Triangle

This is "Never Gonna Be the Same Again," a feature where I look at how bold, seemingly "permanent" changes were ultimately reversed. This is not a criticism, mind you, as obviously things are always going to eventually return to "normal." That's just how superhero comic books work. It's just fun to see how some of these rather major changes are reversed. This is differentiated from "Abandoned Love," which is when a new writer comes in and drops the plot of the previous writer. Here, we're talking about the writer who came up with the idea being the same one who resolved the change. This is also differentiated from "Death is Not the End," which is about how "dead" characters came back to life, since this is about stuff other than death.

Today, we look at Jughead's short-lived love triangle from the late 1980s.

I have written a few times in the past (I mean, we're talking, like, over a decade ago) about how Archie Comics had a fascinating period in the late 1980s where they tried a lot of experimental ideas. It reminds me a lot of the impressive experiments that Archie Comics has done in the past few years, but in a much different way, of course, as the Archie Comics of the late 1980s all still followed the Comics Code Authority, ya know? But they still did a lot of experimental stuff! I was thinking of this when Avery Kaplan recently did a list about different times that Archie did bold things in the past (coupled with times that they have done some bold things in the present) and so I thought I'd spotlight one of the major changes that Archie Comics tried during this period - Jughead actually getting his OWN form of Betty and Veronica!

It all started in Jughead #5 (the series had been relaunched after a few decades) in a brilliant story by Rod Ollerenshaw, Nate Butler and Tom Moore where Jughead has to keep a diary for class...right when he meets a new girl in school, Debbie, who makes him feel things he isn't used to feeling...

We then, of course, cut to Jughead's confusion AND his uncertainty about why the new cute girl in school would go for him over guys like Reggie or Archie...

And when she DOES show interest, that's even more confusing for Jughead, as he doesn't know how to ask her out...

As he dwells on it, notice that the diary starts having Debbie-related doodles all over it...

Archie ends up asking Debbie to a performance of the Archies and Jughead is distraught over it, but then he realizes that Archie invited her there as a favor for Jughead and it all seems to have worked out...

Then, though, there is a later story in that same issue of Jughead that introduces Joani Jump (a story by Nate Butler and Tom Moore), Jughead's best friend from childhood...

She's in town and she wants to see Jughead. He tells her about Debbie, but she gets him to admit that he hasn't even kissed Debbie just yet and, well, Joani makes her interest clear...

Still, Joani doesn't live in Riverdale, so it's not a major issue, until three issues later (in a story by Nate Butler, Doug Crane and Mike Esposito), Jughead gets a fateful phone call...

So now the series becomes about Jughead's love triangle with Debbie and Joani. That is quite an unusual place for Jughead to be in. How did he get OUT of it?

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