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On The Shelf: ‘Reggie And Me’ by Tom DeFalco and Sandy Jarrell

‘Sup readers? Welcome to this week’s On The Shelf, and if you’re a longtime Fan Fest follower and/or hardcore fan of Riverdale, this week’s On The Shelf pick won’t surprise you at all.  No, it’s not the collected edition of the comics based off the show (which does a good enough job exploiting its own drama. I don’t need a tie-in series as well. But hey, if that’s your thing, check out the tie-in series for the Riverdale TV show and let me know how it is). So if this is your first time reading this column, On The Skhelf is Fan Fest’s (new) book review column. Every week, I find a brand new book and analyze it to smithereens, letting you know whether you should get your own physical copy, stick with an ebook, or spend your hard-earned moolah on something equally as cool, like a subscription box.

This week, I picked up the physical copy of Reggie And Me written by Tom DeFalco, with art by Sandy Jarrell. Reggie And Me is a five-issue mini-series centered around Riverdale’s slimiest super-villain, Reggie Mantle, through the eyes of his devoted rescue dog, Vader. Reggie And Me is set in the new Archie ‘verse and  occasionally makes reference to Mark Waid’s awesome series, but if, for whatever reason, you haven’t become totally engrossed in the main line of comics, Reggie And Me doesn’t require you read them. Still not sure if you want to dive in? Honestly, if the following quote doesn’t convince you to give it a shot, I don’t know what will (and yes, it’s been several hours and I’m still cackling):

“Archie has always had a special place in Reggie’s heart. The kind of place often seen in horror stories and slasher films.”

Everybody knows Reggie Mantle is self-serving, cold, calculating and cruel. But to Vader, the scrappy little Dachshund that Reggie adopted from the animal shelter, they have it all wrong. Reggie is a star, the ideal human, he’s totally perfect, and far above the simpletons in Riverdale (just ask him). I’ve been an Archie fan for over half my life, and in most of the stories, Reggie is utilized as a villain with few (if any) redeeming qualities, so when I snagged a digital copy of Reggie And Me issue #1, I was pleasantly surprised with the new twist on such an old (and certainly not always beloved) character.

While most people rightly believe Reggie is bad to the bone, Vader treats readers to rarely-seen glimpses into Reggie’s lonely home life, his lonely social life, and his (you guessed it) lonely romantic life. While Reggie certainly has an attitude problem (as evidenced multiple times over the course of the character’s long and spiteful history), when you’re beholding him through Vader’s eyes, it’s a little hard not to get him on even the most base level. It’s not an excuse for his reckless rudeness, but if Reggie was totally irredeemable, it would be difficult to justify writing a series about him. Essentially, this volume follows Reggie as he tries to come between power-couple Moose Mason and Midge Klump and awkwardly stumbles into a friendship with Moose instead— a turn of events that makes blindly loyal Vader wonder if Moose is the hulking monster Reggie believes him to be.

DeFalco does a wonderful job balancing Reggie’s quick, snappish, almost careless bouts of cruelty and his even quicker moments of raw vulnerability, all with grace, humour, levity, and wit. Jarrell’s art is cartoony without being saccharinely cutesy; Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colours are vibrant and deep. This is truly a visual treat, and it’s just as polished as the rest of the Archie line. I also really liked the modernized Evilheart suit!

Credit: Archie Comics

I absolutely recommend Reggie And Me for your shelf, if only because it’s such a refreshing, different take on something that could have easily fallen into familiar territory. I really do hope DeFalco returns and takes another spin with the dynamic duo of Reggie and Vader, but if not, this was a joy to read. If you want a copy, check it out here.

On The Shelf rating: 4 bad boys with a heart out of 5.

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