If you’ve been reading Panels for a while, you know many of us have had our hearts set a-flutter by #HotArchie, the way-cooler rebooted version of everyone’s favorite redheaded two-timer. With the arrival of the rebooted Jughead on the stands, some jumped ship to #CuteJughead. Others remain loyal to #KoolKevin, #CharmingChuck, or even #DeliciousDilton. (Give it time. That last hashtag’s gonna catch on.)
But for me, only one man from Riverdale holds my heart: #JerkReggie.
Oh, Reggie! That shellacked, center-parted hair! That stupid pun of a name! That gleaming smile that could smarm the birds down from the trees, where he would probably capture them as part of some elaborate bird-catching scam aimed at putting one over on Archie or Jughead, and which will backfire in a complicated and hilarious fashion! I swoon.
Look, don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting that all you Actual Teens out there date a guy like Reggie. Self-involved materialistic liars do not good boyfriends make! Listen to your Auntie Jess, Actual Teens!
But as far as fictional boyfriends go – or, as I referred to Reggie on Twitter the other day, Trash Can Husbands – Reggie’s my guy.
Yes, he’s a jerk…but he’s clearly and proudly labeled as such. Unlike Archie, a supposedly good guy who has been playing two girls off each other (…and Cheryl, and Midge, and Valerie, and Pop only knows who else) for decades, Reggie wears his jerkitude on the sleeve of his popped-collared, monogrammed polo shirt. No faux nice guy act for Reginald Mantle: what you see is what you get.
…And what you get is an attractive bag of hot air. But what a bag! Here are just a few of Reggie’s many fine qualities:
Confidence: He calls himself “Reggie the Magnificent,” and is not terribly concerned that literally no one else ever has in the entire endless history of the Archie universe.
Athleticism: Reggie is a natural athlete, and if he can’t win fairly, he’ll cheat. That shows Determination and Ingenuity, too!
Pedigree: The Mantles are the only family in Riverdale with their own crest. It’s possible Reggie drew it himself, but again: Ingenuity!
Fashion-Forwardness: Wikipedia, a font of mindbogglingly trivial information about Archie characters culled at random from the past three-quarter century of comics, confidently assures me that Reggie “has the distinct trait of being the character who most frequently experiments with his hairstyle to match current trends.” Who wants to start the Reggie Mantle Manbun Countdown? (Please, Archie Comics. Please do this thing for me. It would be so beautiful.)
Like, So Many Polo Shirts, You Guys. So Many.
Of course, this is the Archie universe, where no one swears or locks their door and literal elves visit to see if you’ve been good enough for Santa to visit. No one’s all bad, and many stories have exposed Reggie’s soft, squishy underbelly, especially where Betty, the only person he seems to actually kind of like, is concerned. (P.S. I ship it. Get out of here, Andrews.) Many’s the story where Reggie secretly gives another character a thoughtful gift, or does a clandestine good deed, or cheerfully helps his friends save the whales/eagles/ring-tailed lemurs/Pop’s. And I like those! But Reggie with his obnoxiousness cranked up to eleven is the Reggie for me.
Because let’s face it: there are plenty of characters in Riverdale ambling around being nice. (Hey again, Betty. Hey girl. Don’t worry, you’re still my actual favorite.) Reggie, much like his distaff counterpart Veronica, is at his best when he’s being hilariously, outrageously conniving and self-centered. #NiceReggie is all very well and good, but for me, #JerkReggie is where it’s at.
So keep your #HotArchies and your #CuteJugheads and your #DeliciousDiltons. (I’m telling you. It’ll be trending any day now.) I’m eagerly awaiting the day Reggie and Me gets its own hip rebooted volume from comics’ hottest creators. When it comes to boyfriends, Riverdale-style, make mine Mantle.
After all, he’s magnificent. He said so himself! And would Reggie lie?