Lovefool 02.05.12 | The Last of the Innocent

Lovefool looks at a very different kind of love story, the Riverdale-gone-wrong noir murder story Criminal: The Last of the Innocent.



It may surprise some Friends of Lovefool to know that, since moving to Omaha and getting my Omaha job, I seem to have been called “fake” a lot. Bear in mind that I have a lot of customer service experience and work with some people who aren’t old enough to drink but…fake? Really? It makes me grind my teeth every time and I guess that it upsets me because I pride myself on being fairly transparent. I just know that there’s a time and a place. And that time is not when I’m on the phone with the people who pay my salary. But I’ve been thinking about it—how does one manage to incorporate all aspects of their personality all the time? Is it possible? Either way, I’m fairly confident that the company I work for is paying me to be fake. They don’t want the real Lovefool, who can tend toward snark and talking fast. No, they’re paying for the version of Lovefool who can talk on the phone to people all day without starting to talk to them like they’re idiots in between second break and time to go. And that’s okay, because I like money and employment.
It’s weird, the things we’ll do for money and, with that money, the life we want. It can transform us into different people sometimes and it’s this transition that spins at the heart of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal: The Last of the Innocent. A loving homage to Archie’s Riverdale world, it lets us know what might have happened had Archie ever aged past 17 and got to decide what life would be for himself. He would have, of course, made the wrong decision because that’s what happens when a silly boy is presented with what looks like two perfect choices. And then what would Archie have done? Riley Richards, Brubaker’s Brookview alternate universe version of Mr. Andrews, kills off his mistake, kills his best friend who knows about it, frames his rival (who happened to be sleeping with his wife, making the whole thing easy to wrap up) and then runs off with the other girl.
So you may think I’ve just spoiled the whole book, and you’re right, but it’s still worth the read to watch it all go down and for the chilling last line in the story. Because it doesn’t necessarily happen the way that you expect it might and, along the way, there’s some pretty intense looks into what life in Riverdale might really be like. There’s assorted nudity and lots of references to teenage sex, drugs and rock and roll. It is, in a word, an actual teenage experience bundled in with what happens next, which is something we’ll never actually know about for Archie and the gang, being perpetually frozen in the amber of high school as they are, but would it be the fairy tale that the books are leading up to?
Of course not and that’s why the Riverdale gang is stuck in high school forever. Because high school, as depicted in the Archie books, is a dream world where nothing lasts forever and there are no consequences to anything that happens. The Last of the Innocent is a look at what happens when we grow into our lives incorrectly and choose love for the wrong reasons. Frankly, the ending leaves me surprisingly delighted, too. It’s so…happily ever after and completely messed up, all at the same time. I love a good morality story gone wrong and I love the ambiguity that is at the very heart of this story. I love that Lizzie, the Betty in our story, floats through this life with her hands clean and ends up in a beach house with a millionaire she’s been in love with for ages because she was the only character in the entire book who actually acted like a decent human being. So what if she ends up with a sociopath? She’ll never know.
(Speaking of girls who will never know and the fakers they love, I got a look at my buddy Russell’s script for a Kickstarter project illustrating the songs of the Smiths and it was delightful. Featuring talents such as Jamie S. Rich, a Lovefool favorite, and songs like “A Rush, A Push and The Land Is Ours”, it looks great and is in serious need of a boost. Normally, your Lovefool wouldn’t dream of posting something like this but Russell’s “London” script was so good and I want to read this book so badly so here we are. So, if you’ve got a few bucks and a love for the Smiths, go sponsor this project: Unite and Take Over Volume 2: A Smiths Comic Anthology.
(And thanks to my archrival, Mr. Hollerbach, for the recommendation. This doesn’t mean we’re friends.) (I mean, we totally are, it just sounded cool.) | Erin Jameson

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