For the most part, the characters in the world of Archie Comics make sense. You have the main character, Archie Andrews; his best friend, Jughead Jones; and of course, the two loves of Archie’s life, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge. So far, that all makes sense. Then you have Reggie Mantle. Reggie is a total jerk and yet he is constantly hanging out with the main characters. He’s even a member of their band, The Archies. This just highlights how fascinating Reggie is, he can be whatever the writer of a given story needs. Archie needs a friend? Here’s Reggie. Archie needs an enemy? Here’s Reggie. Archie needs a teammate? Here’s Reggie. Archie needs a rival? Here’s Reggie.
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Today, Tom DeFalco and artist Sandy Jarrell debut the first issue of Reggie’s own series, “Reggie and Me,” set in the newly rebooted Archie Universe. Told from the perspective of Reggie’s dog (the “me” of “Reggie and Me”), it’s a great look at the different facets of Reggie’s personality, which so often seem at odds with each other. DeFalco, who broke into comic books in the 1970s working for Archie Comics, has an impressive handle on Reggie. So we thought it would be interesting to hear which Reggie Mantle stories DeFalco thinks are the best.
15. The Jalopy Race
Reggie Mantle made his debut in 1942’s “Jackpot Comics” #6, in a story written and drawn by Bob Montana (who also wrote and drew the first appearances for Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica). In it, Reggie gets so angry at Archie when the gregarious ginger splashes him with water that he uses a connection in the county commissioner’s office to get Archie’s beaten up old jalopy ruled a safety hazard and thus banned from city streets.
Luckily for Archie, the order was only for streets, so he was able to take part in a Jalopy race where the grand prize is a brand new roadster! Reggie takes the super charged engine out of his own ride and has it put into a jalopy so that he can keep Archie from winning the top prize. Archie and Jughead go through a series of bizarre misadventures until Archie ends up winning the new roadster… which he promptly cannibalizes to use for parts to fix his old jalopy!!
14. The Jokers
Reggie’s practical jokes were put into an interesting perspective in “The Jokers,” from the first issue of Reggie’s first solo series, “Archie’s Rival, Reggie” (drawn by George Frese). In the story, Principal Weatherbee is intent on discovering who is behind a recent string of practical jokes, but after talking to Reggie about it, he discovered that Reggie had left a tack in his chair to sit on! While he was stewing, plotting his revenge, Miss Grundy came into his office to complain about Reggie giving her a hot foot.
However, while the both of them plotted on how to get revenge on Reggie, they realized that their plans involved getting inspiration from pranks that they had pulled on their teachers when they were younger. In fact, they realized that their pranks as teenagers were probably a good deal more severe than Reggie’s pranks. So, they take mercy on the teenager and instead use his interest in Veronica to get him to stop pulling them (they would transfer him out of classes with her until the pranks stopped).
13. Truth and Consequences
Reggie’s conniving side was on full display in 1957’s “Truth and Consequences” from “Pep Comics” #122. In it, Reggie causes trouble between Archie and Veronica by telling them each of the other people he had seen them with. He then causes trouble for Jughead by telling Mister Weatherbee about seeing Jughead cutting classes. Later, at Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe, Betty tells the others that they can’t complain, since Reggie is only telling the truth and it isn’t his fault that they did wrong things. She soon sang a different tune when Reggie lets Pop know that Betty’s allowance has been cut off for two months, so she has been owing money to Pop that she knows she won’t be able to pay back.
While he is basking in his “truth is the best defense” attitude, the others come up with a way to hoist Reggie by his own petard by telling Pop that Reggie paid with real money… this time. They then told big Moose that Reggie didn’t kiss Moose’s girlfriend, Midge, at all… today. Then Mister Weatherbee finds out that Reggie did his own homework… today. So, without telling lies, the gang gets Reggie thrown out of Pop’s, beaten up by Moose and sent to detention. Behold, readers, the power of telling the “truth.”
12. Pipe the Bag
“Pipe the Bag,” from 1958’s “Laugh Comics” #87 (drawn by Harry Lucey), saw Reggie use his evil pranking skills for good this time. Archie, you see, discovered that he had some royal Scottish ancestry in his blood and promptly became obsessed with his Scottish heritage. His obsession manifested in him wearing a kilt, an elaborate Scottish outfit and, most annoyingly, carrying bagpipes with him and playing them everywhere. Reggie silenced him at Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe by filling the pipes with water, but that just ended up with Reggie having to mop up the floor.
At school the next day, Betty and Veronica were being driven up the wall, so Reggie came up with another plan. He filled the bagpipes with condensed air and they were soon flying around the school. When Archie corralled the pipes, he ended up colliding with Midge, which led to Moose thinking Archie was making a move on his girlfriend. Archie didn’t bring the bagpipes to school again.
11. Get the Message!
While Reggie is most famous for his pranks, it is worth noting that very often, Archie would give just as good as he got from Reggie. This was made clear in “Get the Message!” by Frank Doyle, Harry Lucey and Terry Szenics, from 1963’s “Archie” #142. The story opened with Archie seeing a note written to him on the sidewalk. It was written small enough that Archie would have to get on his hands and knees to read the whole thing. As it went on, Archie discovered that it was a trap, just in time to see a bunch of rotten tomatoes fall on top of him.
Reggie was bragging about his trick to Veronica when he came across a sign on the sidewalk addressed to him in the same exact spot as the one he left for Archie. Reggie, knowing that it was a trap, hopped over the fence to get rid of the rotten tomatoes. Only Archie knew he would do that, so he put a garbage can filled with garbage on the other side of the fence. Yep, there is a reason why it is a “rivalry” and not just one guy constantly picking on the other one.
10. Shell Shock
Frank Doyle was always willing to mine a good fad or a craze, and that was certainly the case in 1964’s “Shell Shock,” from “Laugh Comics” #160 (art by Dan DeCarlo and Rudy Lapick), which got in on the spy craze very early on (Doyle would famously go all the way into James Bond territory soon after with his “The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.” series of stories). The story opened with Reggie pulling a clever prank on Archie. He appeared to be juggling eggs, but when one fell, the egg was shown to be rubber. He challenged Archie to juggle better than him, but switched eggs, so Archie was juggling real eggs and soon had egg over his face — literally!
However, Archie was now part of A.R.P.A., the “Anti-Reggie Protection Agency,” complete with two-way watch communicators. He informed fellow A.R.P.A. members Jughead, Betty and Veronica that Reggie was on the way and what kind of prank he had in store for them. Thus, when the same prank followed and Reggie handed them their real eggs to juggle, they just chucked them all right at him!
9. Mental Madness
Reggie really stepped up his villainy in the classic tale, “Mental Madness,” from the 25th issue of Reggie’s solo series (re-named from “Archie’s Rival, Reggie”), “Reggie and Me.” In the 1967 story (by Frank Doyle, Bill Vigoda — brother of actor Abe Vigoda — and Mario Acquaviva), Reggie used techniques he learned from the 1944 George Cukor thriller, “Gaslight,” to convince everyone that Archie had gone insane.
Again, Reggie really stepped things up to a whole other level in this tale, as it opened with him tying Archie up and calling Veronica to break a date, while pretending to be Archie’s father. That was the first part of his diabolical plot to turn everyone against Archie. Reggie successfully convinced everyone that Archie was unfit to be head of student council and Reggie got the gig. When Reggie saw Jughead walking around with a long wire for seemingly no reason, he thought that Jughead was pretending to be crazy himself. He bragged to Jughead about his plan working, but as it turned out, the wire was just an extension cord for a microphone and the whole school knew Reggie’s true colors!
8. Impossible Journey
Frank Doyle, Henry Lucey and Marty Epp combined for a master class in sequential art with 1967’s “Impossible Journey,” from “Archie” #178, as Archie kept trying to get to Veronica’s front door to meet her for a date, but Reggie kept pranking him to prevent him from reaching the door. He began by setting off the sprinklers outside her house while Archie was nearly to the door. The whole story is without dialogue until the very end, so Doyle relies on Lucey and Epp’s illustrations, and they deliver mightily.
As noted before, Archie can give as good as he gets in these prank battles, so in the end, he manages to trap Reggie at the top of Archie’s roof before Reggie can prank him. However, as he walks triumphantly to his car, a little kid rides by on his bicycle and splashes Archie with water. It just was not meant to be. He called Veronica and gave up, as he just couldn’t seem to make it out that day. That call was the only dialogue in the story.
7. That’s Write, I’m Wrong
Writer/artist Bob Bolling (with inks by Bob Smith) took advantage of just how out of date Archie’s jalopy was in 1970’s “That’s Write, I’m Wrong” from issue #43 of “Reggie and Me.” In it, Veronica gets invited to a high society gala and she wanted to bring Archie, as it was his turn to date her; but Reggie insisted to her that he was the only proper choice for a high society function and that Archie would just embarrass her in front of everyone.
Reggie decided to make that point clear by sneaking into the garage and writing all sorts of snide remarks on Archie’s jalopy, so that Veronica wouldn’t be caught dead riding in it. As it turned out, had he just done nothing, he would have been okay, as Mister Lodge agreed with him. However, the jalopy he had written all over wasn’t Archie’s, but rather an antique owned by Mister Lodge himself! This, of course, showed that the beaten down junker Archie would drive in the early stories was now an antique in real life!
6. Sidewalk Gaff
“Sidewalk Gaff” from 1972’s “Reggie and Me” #53 by writer/artist Al Hartley (with inks by Joe Sinnott), showed that while Reggie was certainly a jerk, he was a jerk who knew his friends very, very well. The conceit of the story’s gag is that Reggie begins selling tickets to a show outside Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe. As it turned out, the show in question was watching Archie and Jughead paint the building across the street.
Reggie knew two important things. One, by showing up there with a bunch of people who were watching Archie and Jughead work, the two would be extra nervous and bound to make mistakes (which they did, to hilarious effect); and two, that they were climbing up on ladders right at the same time that the clock on the building was going to be chiming noon, so that was 12 bells that Reggie knew would throw Archie for a loop. Reggie was totally correct — he just didn’t foresee Archie’s ladder falling over directly on top of him in the end!
5. Election Selection
A clever story from George Gladir, Gus Lemoine and Jon D’Agostino, 1974’s “Election Selection,” from “Reggie and Me” #70, saw Reggie consult with brainiac Dilton Doiley as to how he could defeat Archie in the school’s class president election. Dilton explained that the race would come down to the freshmen class and that the freshmen were most impressed by someone who had a lot of influence. So, Reggie quickly came up with a scheme where first he would be seen leaving Principal Weatherbee’s office and talking aloud as if they were just having an important conversation, and then arranging it so that he and Weatherbee would have lunch together in front of everyone.
Betty quickly deduced that Reggie was sucking up to Weatherbee for some reason and that Archie had to do the same. So, Archie shoveled Weatherbee’s driveway for him. That turned out to not be what the ‘Bee wanted, as he wanted to get some exercise. Archie offered to let him shovel his driveway instead and Weatherbee agreed. When the freshmen all saw the school’s principal shoveling Archie’s driveway, the election was in the bag — even Reggie had to vote for Archie after seeing that!
4. The Trade Charade
George Gladir was at it again in 1975’s “Trade Charade,” from “Reggie and Me” #81, drawn by Bob Bolling and Rudy Lapick. The story opened with Reggie willing to trade his locker with Archie so that Archie could be closer to the gym. Archie thought that Reggie was just being nice, until he realized that the locker was so close to the gym that the gym door would often fling open and smash the locker. When he confronted Reggie about the bad trade, Reggie offered to let Archie switch boats with him. He would take Archie’s row boat for a week while Archie could use Reggie’s cruiser. Naturally enough, it turned out that Reggie was hiding from a guy who saw him take his girlfriend on the cruiser a few days earlier, which resulted in Archie getting a punch meant for Reggie.
This all set up the perfect punchline of the story, as Miss Grundy told Archie that he had received an F and that Reggie had received an A. She then realized that it was a mistake, but Archie was so traumatized he refused to accept the trade!!
3. Costume Caper
“Star Wars” fever hit Riverdale in 1978’s “Reggie and Me” #101 (by Frank Doyle, Dan Decarlo and Jim DeCarlo), as Reggie paid good money to get a special Darth Vader costume made so that he could win the best costume prize at the school’s costume dance (of course, “Darth Vader” is painted red so that Archie wouldn’t get into any trouble — “Star Wars” is also referred to as “Star Battles”). While Reggie was confident that he would win after looking at the other costumes on display, he still couldn’t help but be worried when Archie showed up with a costume in a box.
While Archie was showering, Reggie stole the costume and Archie’s clothes (just for evil good measure). Luckily, Jughead had a fake garbage can nearby that he used to hide from Big Ethel. So he loaned it to Archie. Archie stumbled around a bit (walking in a garbage can is tough) and accidentally fell into a closet where a school computer fell on top of the garbage can. Archie then stumbled out on to the stage of the contest and looked remarkably like a costume of R2-D2! He won the top prize and, as you might expect, Reggie was none too pleased.
2. Gag Me!
Reggie got another chance at a solo series in 1994, with “Reggie’s Revenge.” The first issue opened with “Gag Me!” by Dan Parent, Rex Lindsey and Rudy Lapick. It opened by re-establishing that Reggie was the king of pranks at Riverdale High, showing him terrorizing his friends through various plots (the most unconscionable one involved leaving Jughead’s collection of crowns outside… a health food store!!!). So the group decided to pull a major prank on Reggie themselves.
They put a tape recorder with someone shouting, “Help me! Let me out!” in Reggie’s trunk, along with a bunch of fake snakes (Reggie is apparently afraid of snakes. Good to know!) that would pop out when the trunk opened up. The gang sent Dilton Doiley to record Reggie and capture his reaction so that they could send the tape in to “TV’s Wackiest Home Videos.” However, it turned out that the voices were so distracting to Reggie while he was driving that he crashed his car and went to the hospital. The gang rushed to see him right before he headed into surgery. As they stood there, broiling in their guilt, Reggie revealed that he was faking. It was all just a really, really elaborate plan (he cajoled Dilton into helping) after he heard them plotting earlier. He ended the story by taking Jughead’s crown, as he was the king of pranks and needed one.
1. The April Fool
In 2011’s “Archie and Friends” #153 (by the classic creative team of Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz and Al Milgrom), we see what April Fool’s Day is like for a guy who loves pranks as much as Reggie Mantle. As it turned out, it was essentially his biggest holiday. Throughout the school (or in the case of the tiny bomb he hid in Archie’s car, in Archie’s driveway), elaborate pranks go off like clockwork, terrorizing every member of the student body, and the teachers, too!
The fed-up teachers and students decided that they were going to take Reggie down, so they tore the school apart looking for him. Never did they guess that he would be in the one place they wouldn’t think to look — detention! Yep, Reggie was already in detention planning up what he was going to do to make next year’s April Fool’s Day even bigger and better! Now that’s what you call dedication to one’s craft!
Get reacquainted with Riverdale’s lovable scamp in “Reggie and Me” #1. either at your LCS or at Archie Comics’ website. You’re gonna love it, no foolin’!
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