final life with archie

You’ve probably heard that Archie Andrews, the red-headed teenager who’s had his own comics since the 1940s, is going to be killed off. It’s more accurate to say that the versions of Archie in one of his comic books, Life With Archie, are going to die, while the rest will live on.

archie races to the defense

From 1958 to 1991, Life With Archie was a book that featured longer, more dramatic stories featuring Archie and friends in different scenarios: as a sort of “Scooby Gang” who foiled thieves and ghosts, as secret agents, and even as superheroes. The book was revived in 2010 and focuses solely on a grown-up Archie in two different post-university universes: one in which he married Betty, and another in which he married Veronica. In these comics, things aren’t as light as the Archie comics of yore: everyone is affected by the recession (except Veronica, of course), Archie’s career isn’t going anywhere, and there’s a lot of “am I with the person I’m supposed to be with?” angst. It’s more soap operatic than your typical Archie fare.

In both universes, Archie will die while trying to stop a stalker from shooting Kevin Keller, a relatively recently-added character who’s a senator and openly gay. Archie may not have dress sense (he’s an adult now, and he’s wearing high-top sneakers with a suit), but he more than makes up for it by trying to do the right thing, even if it costs him his life.

archie takes the bullet

This is pretty dark stuff for Archie comics, but it’s not the first time that Archie’s been in the line of fire. For that, you have to go back about 20 years to August 1994, when Archie Comics and Marvel Comics took a joke suggestion and made it real with the release of one of the most unlikely cross-publishing crossovers in comics: Archie Meets the Punisher (as released by Archie Comics), a.k.a. The Punisher Meets Archie (as released by Marvel):

archie punisher covers

Click on the image to see the covers at full size.

You can be forgiven if you haven’t heard of The Punisher:

amazing spider-man 129

Introduced in 1974 in The Amazing Spider-Man #129, the Punisher is Frank Castle (born Castiglione), a vigilante who’s driven by the death of his family in a mob shootout to wage a one-man war on organized crime. He was after Spider-Man, who’d been framed for the murder of Norman Osborn, his friend Harry Osborn’s father. Unlike most characters in books approved by the Comics Code Authority, the Punisher was a vicious, remorseless killer had no qualms about threats, brutality, coercion or torture. He’d later realize that Spider-Man was innocent, and would go on to team up with characters like Captain America and Daredevil, as a sort of dark foil. Given the amount of attention that Marvel’s more obscure characters have been getting on movie and TV screens — Sif in the Thor movies and Agents of SHIELD, Thanos at the end of the Avengers movie, Bolivar Trask, Blink, and Spyke in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and all of the Guardians of the Galaxy — you’d think that the Punisher, a guy without powers but a helluva lot of guns, would find a place in the present-day Marvel Cinematic Universe (he’s been featured in movies that are better forgotten).

As one of the early brooding anti-heroes in comics, and thanks to the success of 1980s  “grim and gritty” comic series like the 1982 Wolverine series and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the Punisher became a hot comic in the hyperviolent, Wolverine/Batman-wannabe comics of the 1990s. So an Archie cross-over was inevitable!

Archie Meets the Punisher/The Punisher Meets Archie opens with “Red”, a notorious drug dealer with more than a passing resemblance to Archie (you know where this is going already, don’t you?), looking for a place to lay low. Where better than the Archie comics setting of Riverdale, the last, nicest small town in America?

archie meets the punisher 01

When he arrives in Riverdale, Red gets chummy with the richest man in town, who just happens to be Veronica’s dad, Mr. Lodge. Lodge introduces Red to his daughter, who’s taken aback by his resemblance to her sort-of-boyfriend:

archie meets the punisher 02

Earlier, Archie had screwed up a date with Veronica. She sees an opportunity to make him jealous and invites Red as her date to the school dance. The comic and everyone in it decide to ignore the age difference between the two.

Meanwhile, the Punisher and his hacker/technician sidekick, Microchip (I know, I know…), have followed Red to Riverdale. Normally, the Punisher would simply kill Red, but the feds have cut a deal with him: he’s to capture Red alive, as he’s got valuable information about the drug trade on the entire east coast. They walk about town looking for clues of his whereabouts, noting how different Riverdale is from their usual grim and gritty surroundings:

archie meets the punisher 03

Jughead and Archie are at Pop Tate’s Chok’lit Shoppe, where Archie is drowning his sorrows (in milkshakes, of course) over not going to the dance with either Betty or Veronica. Men claiming to be federal agents step into the shop — they’re really after Red, presumably to make sure that he doesn’t squeal. They hustle Archie and Jughead into their car…

archie meets the punisher 04

A high-speed chase and shootout ensues, with Archie and Jughead diving out of the car before it crashes. The Punisher, thinking he’s got his quarry, takes a closer look and realizes that he hasn’t captured Red, just some high school kid who looks a lot like him. At this point, we’re given this panel, which summarizes the entire comic:

archie meets the punisher 05

There’s another shootout between the Punisher and the fake g-men, and Archie and Jughead use this opportunity to escape and make their way to the dance. Punisher discovers that the fake g-men were on their way to the dance to kill Red, so he too heads there.

We jump to the dance, where we find Red, Archie, and hit men dressed up as caterers. Enter the Punisher, and along with him, the expected mayhem. That’s not enough to stop Riverdale’s resident nerd, Dilton Doiley, from providing a scientific observation:

archie meets the punisher 06

Red kidnaps Veronica and escapes in the fracas, and Archie and the Punisher properly meet:

archie meets the punisher 07

When two titular characters get together like this in the comics, it means only one thing: team-up! Our heroes set up a base of operations in Pop’s Chok’lit Shoppe. Seeing that the Punisher has a war journal, Archie decides to start one too:

archie meets the punisher 08

Putting their minds together, the Punisher duo and the Archie gang figure out where Red is holding Veronica. The Punisher also receives some interesting information…

archie meets the punisher 09

…and he reveals it when they confront Red: one of the gunmen at the dance has the same information that Red does. The Punisher no longer has to bring in Red alive!

archie meets the punisher 10

If this were a Punisher comic, dealing with Red would be a simple matter of shooting him many, many, many times. Since this is an Archie comic, it’s Archie who bumbles and saves the day, bumping into Red and causing him to be lashed to a large hot air balloon:

archie meets the punisher 11

With justice served, the Punisher duo and Riverdale gang say their goodbyes, and we’re left with the possibility of another Marvel/Archie crossover:

archie meets the punisher 12

You can see a more complete version of Archie Meets The Punisher/The Punisher Meets Archie on Scans Daily.

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tsa - district of columbia

A TSA agent at Orlando International Airport is the latest example of the many problems with the organization, after he failed to realized that a TV journalist Justin Gray’s District of Columbia driver’s license was an American ID. When Gray presented his driver’s license, the TSA agent asked to see his passport. Gray, who was flying domestically, didn’t have his passport and asked why it was required. A short — and presumably painful — conversation later, it became clear to Gray that the agent had no idea what the District of Columbia, also known as Washington D.C., the country’s capital, was.

How do you not know that D.C. is in America? Anyone who’s seen an American spy or adventure movie or TV show — even non-Americans — know about Washington, D.C. is.

white house in id4

It only gets car-chaed through or shot up or blown up in every other action flick.

Gray didn’t waste this new story opportunity, which features Douglas Kidd of the National Association of Airline Passengers, who says what anyone who’s gone through security already knows about the TSA: “They simply have not been either applying or maintaining standards for good personnel.”

In light of the incident, the TSA say that they’ve circulated pictures of District of Columbia ID to its agents. They may do well to show them this classic Animaniacs song while they’re at it:


crazy drunk russian street fighters

What happens when you take a video of two Russian guys who are so drunk that they’re barely able to stand, and overlay it with images, sounds, and music from the classic Street Fighter videogames? Pure comedy gold. Watch it below:

If this were a videogame, I’d definitely play it.

Found via Laughing Squid.


to surround and protect

The captioning added to the photo above is mine, but the photo itself is from the most recent article on the Toronto Police Services’ PR site, which sells their crackdown on fun in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park. The park is located on Queen Street West not far from the downtown core, has long been a gathering place for families, tennis players, and local subcultures in a neighborhood that mixes commercial use, nearby clubs, and a wide array of residents ranging from students to seniors. It used to be considerably more skeevy and unsafe in the 1990s when it was a place where few people went, but the influx of people, including hipsters, raver kids, drum circle types, and others, has actually made it safer and more enjoyable with their hanging out (suburbanites think quiet parks are nice; the reality is that unused public space is dangerous), and gave the place more of a “community” feel. The downside is that some parkgoers have been noisy, unruly, drunk, and urinating in public, but we tolerate that behavior from Mayor Rob Ford, don’t we?

The purpose and “spirit” of the park have been the subject of recent debates, with some residents complaining about noise and public drinking on the park (most of which is hipsters taking swigs of PBR but includes some mothers enjoying wine with their picnic).

trinity bellwoods cops

The police have stepped up their watch over the park, and are proudly announcing it in their article with photos with the not-so-subtle message of “we’re watching you”. The photos show the cops in a group, either surrounding the serfs – er, citizenry — or in Top Gun-esque lead-wingman formation…but with smiles! Note they way they’re posed: they’re all positioned above the potentially unruly proles. I don’t think that this is the message they were going for; for all I know, they got “punked” by the photographer who set up these poses.

The danger in this sort of messaging is that they’ll make the park less popular, less populated, and quite possibly, more dangerous. There’s a bright side to all this, though: it means that more people are going to Dufferin Grove and Christie Pits parks, which could use the company.

Update: Some eagle-eyed Facebook friends have pointed out that the Toronto Police Services news site takes over the standard scrolling behavior and replaces it with their own. Really, Toronto Police Services, I think you have some control issues — or a branding opportunity. Maybe you could call it “Scroll Patrol”.


I spent most of Sunday afternoon at the “Ray Jay” — Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium

raymond james stadium

…but it wasn’t to watch a football game. Instead, I went to attend an event run by an industry that’s even more into shameless profiteering than the NFL. I went — of my own free will — to the Florida Signature Bridal Affair.

florida signature bridal affair

For most guys, an event of this sort would elicit this sort of response:

I decided to tag along with the Future Missus partly because marriage is a team sport, and partly out of a sense of morbid curiosity. Besides, this whole uprooting-from-Toronto-and-moving-to-Tampa thing has been a big exercise in getting out of my comfort zone; what’s an afternoon excursion compared to that?

I decided to make the most of my time in the Heart of Brideness and tweets my observations from the event. It made the time pass considerably more quickly, and I hope you find them amusing!


Damned autocorrect. The quote should be “if he thinks he’s going to Vegas with his buddies, he’s got another thing comin’.”

In case you don’t get the reference above:


You know what this centerpiece says to me? Golf widow.

golf widow


For reference, here are the iPhone 5C colors:

iphone 5c


The MC actually said “Where’s Amanda Ball? I need Amanda Ball, people!”



peach to nectarine

I wrapped up the event on a high note:


12-13-14 weddings

In the search for a wedding venue, I’ve been calling some Accordion Bay places. I’ve got a a set of dates that will allow some can’t-miss guests to attend, and in my calling around, I’ve learned that you can’t book a venue on December 13, 2014 because it’s an incredibly popular date.

If you use the American month-day-year system for ordering numerical dates, December 13, 2014 becomes 12-13-14, which also happens to fall on a Saturday. It’s also the last time we’ll have another such “sequential” date for almost a century — the next one’s 01-02-03, or January 2, 2103, which also happens to be a Saturday. Given that we’re not going to see any memorable or “auspicious” dates that also happen to fall on a Saturday (the preferred day for weddings) for a good long time, there’s been a lot of demand for the December 13, 2013 wedding venues. Hotels know this, and have been capitalizing on the hype. Las Vegas, knowing their visitor’s obsession with “lucky numbers” has done the same by selling so-called “Traditional 12-13-14 wedding packages”.


I’d love to be able to say that thanks to my science and math background, I’m above all this “auspicious date” junk, but I’d really love to have my wedding on 3-14, a.k.a. “Pi Day”. Even better, Pi Day falls on a Saturday next year, and the next year’s date, 3-14-15 happens to correspond to the first 5 digits of pi (3.141592…)! GEEK SQUEEEE!


us festival

One of Apple’s less-remembered contributions to pop culture were the US Festivals, two multi-act musical and culture festivals sponsored by Steve Wozniak, Apple’s other co-founder. You probably last heard it mentioned in the “Homerpalooza” episode of The Simpsons, aired in 1996, when Apple was a struggling company:

The 1983 edition of the US festival had 4 days of music, each devoted to a particular category:

  • New Wave Day
  • Heavy Metal Day
  • Rock Day
  • Country Day

A video about 90 minutes long from New Wave Day has recently been posted to YouTube:

It features performances by the following bands:

INXS at the 1983 US Festival

Here’s a look at early INXS, in the Shaboo Shoobah era, when their best-known tune was The One Thing.

Divinyls at the 1983 US Festival

Remember, this is a pre-”I Touch Myself” Divinyls. The announcer mispronounced their name, calling them the “Die-Vinyls”.

Wall of Voodoo at the 1983 US Festival

This was Stan Ridgway’s last performance with Wall of Voodoo before going solo.

Oingo Boingo at the 1983 US Festival

This is a pre-”Weird Science” Oingo Boingo, and their leader Danny Elfman would go on to score the Batman movie and create the Simpsons theme.

The English Beat at the 1983 US Festival

The English Beat disbanded later that year.

A Flock of Seagulls at the 1983 US Festival

Here’s the hair that led to the joke in The Wedding Singer.

Stray Cats at the 1983 US Festival

In the ’80s, Rockabilly got classified under New Wave.

Men at Work at the 1983 US Festival

Men at Work introduced the world outside Australia to vegemite.

The Clash at the 1983 US Festival

This was Mick Jones’ last appearance with The Clash.