Monday, July 11, 2011

Endless Archie

Archie as Dream
“I’m not asleep, I’m just resting my eyes."
Archie as Lord Morpheus wouldn’t seem like the most likely candidate, since the two could not be more different. Archie is a typical teenage boy with delusions of grandeur. Morpheus is a brooding entity totally focussed on his job. Archie is constantly getting into trouble, even though he means well. Morpheus indirectly causes damage to the dreaming world by his absence alone. Archie is a very outspoken young boy who taks in an earnest rapid-fire manner. Morpheus talks in a slow melodramatic tone of speech in an inverted black balloon.

The other main reason for casting Archie as Dream is that they’re both the main character, despite (or because of) their lack of personality. If it weren’t for the situations they keep getting themselves into, we wouldn’t bother paying any attention to them. The other common factor is that they’re constantly in trouble with the opposite sex. Archie keeps going on multiple dates with women (sometimes simultaneously), even though it never turns out well for him later. Morpheus gets interested in any female that strikes his fancy until they vow horrible vengeance on his person for whatever wrongs he’s done to them. And those are his good dates.

Also, their wardrobe is dependent on what era they’re seen in. Early stories had Archie with a trademark bow tie & an “A” shirt. Morpheus’ appearance changes every century or so. Likewise, their appearance changes depending on who’s looking at him.

Jughead as Destiny
“Fortune says you will soon reach the end of this sentence.”
Just as Destiny is blind, Jughead also rarely opens his eyes. He’s quite capable of touring the countryscape without ever expending the energy of batting an eyelid. Likewise, he has intricate inside knowledge about just anything that’ll happen before people’ll notice. All this despite the fact he hardly seems capable of getting off his duff and actually doing something.

Just as Destiny hardly bothers to change out of his dusty rags, Jughead sees little point in changing his trademark clothes of comfortable slacks, a cut-off fedora hat, and his purple shirt with a mysterious “S” on it. His other main function is to constantly warn Archie about dating women, since they always end in disaster. Sound advice that Archie routinely ignores.

“You should stay away from that one. She’ll rip your heart out and feast upon your soul for the rest of your life.”
“But I’d still get to sleep with her, right?”
“...Yes, but -”
“Great! That’s all I needed to know pal! Bye!”

Being omniscient doesn’t necessarily mean anybody’ll bother to listen. If Destiny were a bigger food critic, and not just restricted to the fruit in his garden, the parallels between the two would be even more obvious.

Veronica as Death
“I’m going to kill you! And you are going to like it!”
Veronica embodies the bad-girl allure that’s hazardous to your health, even as she opens up new experiences you never knew existed. Even though she’s quite capable of breaking your heart, your mind and your bank account. Mess with her for too long, and you’ll be facing the wrong side of a coffin sooner than you think. Veronica’s also the most attractive one of the bunch, and it doesn’t help that she enjoys playing her role a little too much.

Even though contact with this woman should be high up on the list of things you should avoid, people will wind up seeing her no matter what they decide. Just as smokers ignore the warning label of cigarette cartons, living people will abandon their common sense once in the presence of this goddess. Flirtation and sexy poses will wipe away short-term memories of any previous sufferings. Past sins will be forgiven, mild transgression will be laughed off, and betrayal will be forgotten. It won’t matter what you did in life, since Death is the final equalizer.

Death is slightly less evil though.

Likewise, just as Death gets to experience being a human every century so she’ll understand the pain of life, so too does Veronica attend a regular High School rather than a private school since her father wants her to understand life among normal civilians and not be limited to the lifestyles of the Rich & Famous. This doesn’t stop her from displaying her superior attitude towards everyone she meets, though.

Reggie as Desire
“You handsome devil, you!”
This one’s a no-brainer, really. For all his superior skills, Reggie is self-absorbed to the point of narcism. Any love interests he picks up will pale in comparision to his most devoted companion - his mirror. Having him appreciate anybody that’s not Reggie is like having autistics think about anybody besides themselves. Other than their special interests, they’re likely to put themselves first, since they’re the most interesting people they know. The name comes from the Latin which means “self”.

Like Desire, Reggie also enjoys playing pranks on Archie, no matter how immature or cruel the joke. Especially if they involve dates with women that’ll turn out to be natural disasters on a public relations level. Anything that makes Archie look bad and Reggie look greater is okay in his book. Considering that Desire planned a convoluted overcomplicated plot to kill Dream, one wonders what levels Reggie would stoop to if he weren’t bound by the levels of the Comic Book Code and society.

The only difference between the two of them is that Reggie isn’t androgynous enough to attract members of the same sex. There’s no actual proof that he “swings that way”, but chances are Reggie would pay more attention to guys if they had facial surgery done so they closely resembled his mirror image.

Moose as Destruction
“Violence - the cause and solution to all the world’s problems.”
Like Destruction, Moose is a hurly figure who’s stronger than he looks and has a friendly manner about him. Moose is capable of great sensitivity and philosophy that few people get a chance to see.

But that’s where the similarities end. While Destruction finds alternate ways to deal with problems, Moose’s first, second and last resorts are almost always violence. Despite his name, Destruction is a bastion of charm and self-restraint. Moose has to physically confine himself to prevent further damage. Destruction was willing to throw away his entire realm to pursue other interests. Sharing Midge? Only if you want a one-way trip to the hospital.

Actually, now that I think of it, apart from their size and friendly matter, they’re nothing alike. The only real common factor is that Reggie doesn’t like Moose, while Desire always loathed Destruction. Of course, the only reason Reggie gets Moose’s goat is because he’s interested in Midge. Otherwise, there’d be no problem between the two of them.

Betty as Delirium
“Who asdfkj in the what now?”
This was the inspiration that started off the whole theme, thanks to MightyGodKing’s interpretation of just how crazy Betty Cooper was. From there, it was just a simple matter of finding attributes of the rest of the gang that would apply.

Betty’s similarities to Delirium are pretty close in that they change hairstyles and clothes fairly frequently. Especially since Archie considers Betty to be more of a sister than a girlfriend, which fits Dream and Delirium’s relationship perfectly. Betty started out as the nice neighborhood girl, while Delirium used to be Delight. The rotating writers and artists could explain how sometimes, she’s a wonderful cook who can whip up recipes of grandeur, and other times, she can’t boil water properly.

Likewise, when her interest is betrayed or spurned, Delirium/Betty will not hesitate to exact horrible horrible vengeance upon whoever done her wrong, until she’s rightfully recompensated. Sadly, having her be happy for you is just as dangerous as pissing her off, so you lose either way.

Even Lum, the Manga equivalent of Betty Cooper, a green-haired tiger-stripped bikini-wearing Alien who routinely zaps her love interest with lightning bolts is considered normal compared to the rest of the cast. And she’s supposed to be Ataru’s true love. (According to Tvtropes, Takahashi originally intended the couple to be Ataru/Shinobu, until the public made their preferences known, which is why Lum didn’t show up in the second Manga chapter - she didn’t become a regular until later)

This also leads to the last and least popular of the Endless...

Betty as Despair
“I’m in despair! This unfair categorization has left me in despair!”
This was the most difficult of the seven Endless to correctly fit to any one character. My first initial thought was Midge, since she’s often suffering from the brunt of her boyfriend’s affection, and has no chance to explore any of her other interests. However, Midge’s constantly fighting for more rights and equality from her jealous boyfriend, so the resulting conflict hasn’t been resolved with, but it’s currently being modified. Mr. Lodge would’ve been a perfect fit, with his silver hair and constant exasperation whenever Archie comes over. Of course, there’s the whole dilemma of him being a man, which rules him out. For similar reasons, Mr. Weatherbee is excluded as well. Suffering doesn’t count if it’s only between certain hours of the day.

I then thought about the other teachers at Riverdale High, and none of them really fit either. Mrs. Grundy would’ve been an obvious choice, were it not that she’s more strict than depressed. She’s also mellowed out in her early years to be more sociable and friendly with her students. The rarely seen Mrs. Hagley is more ditzy than authoritarian. Mrs. Beasley is a tough old bat who won’t take any gruff from anyone.

For someone in the same age bracket as the other Endless, that would require going outside the regular cast for other minor characters. Big Ethel has eyes only for Jughead, and despite her ugly looks and threatening demeanor, is too positively giddy to ever be depressed. When it comes to indirect suffering, Jinx Malloy would be the perfect fit, but like Mr. Lodge & Weatherbee, he’s hindered by the fact that he’s male. (Curse the luck!) And Cheryl Blossom doesn’t fit the profile at all.

So that left the only character who’s regularly undergoes bout of rock-bottom depression. This might be seen as cheating, applying two different Endlesses to the same person, but the divide between bliss and grief is very mutable. As Destruction said: “Despair defines happiness, and the two work in tandem with each other.” By the same token, Betty can be simultaneously gleeful and in the dumps at any moment depending on how the dice falls.

It's also canonical since despite her namesake, Delirium is prone to black moods when she doesn't get her way. Since Betty is bound to bouts of deep funks whenever she’s not with Archie, since he’s more attracted to the willful charms of Veronica, that sets off a vicious cycle of suffering that can only be broken when the pattern veers off its tracks. To make events more problematic, Veronica is very good at getting attention, and will stop at nothing to getting Betty back on the mobius strip of mental agony. Given the schizophrenic nature of bouncing between two extremes, is it any wonder why Betty is as messed up as she is?

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