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SHIELD by Mark Lester



The Giant Superman cover below left was the basis for Robby's "Pureheart Origins" cover!
PART ONE OF FIVE
Enter Pureheart!

Just imagine! Archie Andrews -- America’s Favorite Teenager -- a superhero! Complete with uniform and super powers! When did i t happen? How did it happen? WHY did it happen? I, Robby Reed, creator of this blog and author of this article, have got all the answers -- and here they are, in a five-part series that will one day be recognized as the definitive study of the Pureheart Universe!

Archie Andrews, created by Bob Montana, first appeared in Pep Comics #22 (Dec 1941), but he didn't make it to the title's cover until Pep #45 (Jan 1944, pictured right). As superheroes had fallen out of favor with the public, characters like Archie gained in popularity. But then, in the mid 1960s, Superheroes began to once again dominate the medium they themselves had created -- the comic book. DC starred superheroes in almost every one of their books, even former genre titles such as House of Mystery and Strange Adventures.

Nowhere was this trend more evident than in Adventure Comics featuring Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes -- a small ARMY of super-types. Over at Marvel, Lee and Kirby were at the height of their powers, infusing the Fantastic Four with an unprecedented dose of "realism" as Marvel's superhero line expanded at an ever-increasing rate. Not to be left out, Gold Key offered titles such as the futuristic Magnus Robot Fighter, and the super-scientific Solar, Man of the Atom. Pictured below: the aforementioned titles' September 1965 issues -- one month before Archie made his debut as a superhero!
 
ADVENTURE #336, SEPT 1965 FF #42, SEPT 1965 SOLAR #14, SEPT 1965
These three publishers didn’t hog ALL the superhero action -- nearly every comic company got into the superhero game with a vengeance! ACG, the American Comics Group, stuck Herbie in red long johns and dubbed him “The Fat Fury” (pictured left), and Disney stuck Goofy in equally red long johns and called him “Super Goof” (right). And this was several months before the premiere of the Batman TV show in January 1966!

Testing the superhero waters, Archie Comics publisher John Goldwater, writer Frank Doyle and artist Bob White decided to do a story featuring their star character -- Archie -- as a superhero! But what would “Super-Archie” look like? What would his powers be? And since they couldn't really call him “Super-Archie,” what would his name be? In this case, all these questions had the same easy answer: just steal everything from established superheroes!

SUPERHERO SCAVENGER HUNT

Perhaps the easiest part of making Super-Archie was designing his costume. Nearly every superhero outfit is just a different version of Superman's, the great Granddaddy of all superhero uniforms. So, like any good Superman knockoff, Super-Archie had to have a uniform modeled on the Man of Steel’s. For Super-Archie, Goldwater and company used a simple reverse design. Superman had a blue uniform with red outer “underwear” and cape, so Super-Archie would wear just the opposite: BLUE outer “underwear” and a BLUE cape! Uniform done. Wow, that was easy!

Perhaps the most important aspect of any superhero, indeed that which MAKES him (or her) “super” to begin with, is their super POWER. Just as clothes make the man, the power defines the hero. But for Super-Archie, who existed in a world where “continuity” had yet to be discovered, powers were largely a matter of convenience. If Super-Archie needed to have a certain power to move a story forward or make a gag work, then he’d HAVE that power -- if only for the panels necessary.

In his first outing alone, Super-Archie would evidence Superman-inspired abilities such as flight and invulnerability, as well as additional powers like the “heat of his inner goodness” (pictured left), and “magnetic mind projection.”

More important was how Archie would TRANSFORM into Super-Archie: He would simply call upon his inner superhero and
POOF! -- his uniform and super powers would appear like magic. This concept, of course, was lifted from Captain Marvel, aka "Shazam" -- but given the ages of the characters involved, it might be more fitting to say that Super-Archie was copied not from Superman and Captain Marvel, but from SuperBOY and Captain Marvel JUNIOR (pictured right by artist Kurt Schaffenberger, who drew both character's series).

A NAME IS BORN (BORROWED?!?!)

Every superhero needs a great name. "Super-Archie" was just too close to Superman, so a new name had to be created -- and its unlikely source just might have been... a Mighty Mouse cartoon! Mighty Mouse was created as a Superman spoof by Izzy Klein and Paul Terry of Terrytoons, and he first appeared in a 1942 short entitled “The Mouse of Tomorrow.”

What does MM have to do with the naming of Super-Archie? Well, the name of Mighty Mouse’s girlfriend, pictured right in the arms of her super-rodent lover, was inspired by “Pauline” of the famous 1914 “Perils of Pauline” silent movie serial. The character first appeared in a series of Mighty Mouse cartoons that satirized the old cliffhangers. "Pauline" had been played by actress Pearl White, and Mickey's galpal was named Pearl PUREHEART!

Pearl Pureheart didn't fade away when Mickey Mouse cartoons ceased production -- she appeared regularly in Gold Key's Mighty Mouse series of the mid-sixites (seen above), so she was kept "current," and she may have inspired John Goldwater and company to dub the newly-minted Super-Archie... PUREHEART THE POWERFUL!
LIFE WITH PUREHEART!

Which of the many Archie comics published in 1965 would feature Pureheart The Powerful’s debut? There were dozens of Archie titles at this time, and each on e showcased a slightly different aspect of the world of America’s Favorite Teenager. For example, “Pep” was devoted to humor and gags, “Betty and Veronica” offered a girls view of the Archiverse, and “Life with Archie” featured the gang in adventure stories. This made it the logical choice for Pureheart's premiere.

Of course, to be a real super hero, Pureheart needed a super VILLAIN! This role was first assigned to a "diabolical super-fink" who called himself The Ice Cube. This particular bad guy was far from original -- he's a knockoff of the Batman villain originally called Mr. Zero, pictured above in his chilling debut appearance.

Mr. Zero's appearance on the Batman TV show as Mr. Freeze did NOT inspire the creation of the Ice Cube -- or of Pureheart himself, for that matter. Although Pureheart's existence is usually attributed to the popularity of the Batman TV show, in fact this is not the case, because Pureheart first appeared in October 1965, and Batman premiered on ABC in January 1966 -- many months AFTER the advent of Pureheart!

The classic cover blurb on Pureheart's debut issue (written by Frank Doyle, art by Bob White and Marty Epp), Life with Archie #42, reads: “ENTER PUREHEART, teen-age superhero, to battle the diabolical super-fink.... THE ICE CUBE”
Here's a page from Pureheart's first story, called "Cold Cash." It shows Pureheart The Powerful in action for the first time against that frigid, frosty fink -- the Ice Cube! Brrrrr!
Archie stops his skid, manages to defeat the Ice Cube, and gets Mr. Lodge's millions back. But guess what? The whole entire thing was just a DREAM! And now it's time for Archie to wake up...
PUREHEART GETS AN ORIGIN -- SORT OF!
 
THE PH FACTOR!

Months after Pureheart made his million dollar debut, writer Frank Doyle with artists Bob White and Marty Epp finally got around to giving the guy an origin story in Life With Archie #46, Feb. 1966. In his previous appearance as a character in one of Archie's dreams, Pureheart's uniform had been mostly red. Now, without explanation, it was suddenly as orange as Archie's hair, and Pureheart's cape had vanished entirely. Good! That made the character less like "Superman," and more distinctively "Archie."

SCIENCE FUN FACTS: A pH test uses a strip of special paper (pictured right) to measure of the amount of acid in a liquid. The abbreviation "pH" stands for "Potential Hydrogen," referring to the amount of hydrogen mixed with the liquid. The pH scale ranges from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (least).

But in the Pureheart Universe, "PH" stood for "the power of a pure heart," and the "PH factor" had a very unexpected side-effect. It's all explained in the pages below, showing Pureheart's origin (such as it is). It's called -- what else? -- "The PH Factor!"
STOP TAPE! Did you catch the cool visual reference to Action Comics #1? Take a closer look...
Wow -- Pureheart pays homage to Superman. Who knew he was so deep!
At the end of Pureheart's origin, we discover why no one in Riverdale ever seems to remember the superheroic exploits of The Powerful One! It's a side-effect of the titular "PH Factor" -- it smothers all memory of Pureheart's good deeds. A major bummer for super glory-hounds!
What did readers think? They thought Pureheart was for real... or at least as real as Archie himself. And they bought truckloads of comics cover-featuring Pureheart to prove it! Never slow to jump on a trend, and with Batmania preparing to take the nation by storm, it was decided that all the members of Archie's supporting cast would become superheroes. The Pureheart Age of Comics was about to begin!

PART TWO OF FIVE
The Pureheart Age of Comics!

RECAP: With a costume inspired by Superman and a name that may have been taken from the Mighty Mouse Universe, Archie as Pureheart The Powerful made his debut in the October 1965 issue of "Life With Archie." In that story, the super-powered Pureheart character wasn’t supposed to be “real,” he was just regular Archie Andrews as he had imagined himself in a dream. But continuity in the Pureheart Universe was far from consistent. In another story, Archie became Pureheart by calling on the "PH Factor," which transformed him into a superhero and also wiped out all memories of his superheroic exploits. Not only did no one know that Archie was Pureheart -- no one even knew Pureheart existed at all! (At least, most of the time.)
 

ARCHIE #117 ACTION #285, FEB 1962 B&V #118, OCT 1965
JUST IMAGINE!

As it turned out, Mr. Andrews wasn’t the only superheroic dreamer in Riverdale. To say the least! Over in the Cooper household, young Betty Cooper -- she of the eternal crush on Archie -- was ALSO having heroic fantasies. But unlike Archie's boyish dreams of power and glory, Betty's superheroic fantasies evidenced a far more feminine perspective. While Archie as Pureheart wanted to save the world -- Betty, as usual, just wanted to save Archie!

Virtually nothing in the Pureheart Universe was an original creation. "Super Betty" was obviously based on Supergirl (pictured above center), and she also shares her name with a fan magazine (left). But get this -- I, Robby Reed, creator of this blog and author of this article, believe that the title of Super Teen's first story was inspired by, of all things, an ad campaign!

Not just any ad campaign, of course, but the famous “Just Imagine! series of ads promoting DC’s Justice League of America (pictured right). The original JLA title had launched in October 1960 with the tagline “JUST IMAGINE! Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder woman, Aquaman, J’onn J’onzz Manhunter from Mars have banded together as the JLA!”

Below, from Betty and Veronica #118 (Oct. 1965, cover shown above), is the splash page showing the first appearance of Betty Cooper as... Super Teen! It's written by Frank Doyle and drawn by Dan Decarlo. Her uniform is a basic Supergirl knockoff (sans cape), the first caption repeats almost verbatim the opening of the Superman TV show, and the story is titled (you guessed it) “Just Imagine.
 
But Super Teen isn't all that interested in your standard superheroics. Oh sure, she wants to arrive in the nick of time and protect helpless victims with her super-strength in principal... but just look what Super Teen imagines this would be like in practice!
Super Teen's origin story, or what passed for Super Teen's origin story, was told in Betty and Me #3 (Aug 1966, cover pictured right) by Frank Doyle and Dan Decarlo. One day the gang goes camping, and Archie falls off a cliff and lands on a rock ledge below. He lies there, unconscious, and then the ledge began to crumble. Danger!

Archie's friends, including Betty Cooper, watch from above. They don't know what to do. Betty is frantic that her Archie is about to die! Daringly, she leaps down to save him, and somehow her pony tail gets caught in a branch. But don't worry -- twisting her ponytail is how Betty transforms into the super powered heroine, Super Teen! Below, she's seen doing just that...
JUGHEAD as CAPTAIN HERO!
Jughead as Captain Hero #1 Jughead as Captain Hero #2 Jughead as Captain Hero #3
CAPTAIN HERO TO THE RESCUE!

Jughead's heroic alter ego had two first appearances -- his same debut story ran concurrently in both "Archie Giant Series #142: Archie's Superhero Special" (Oct 1966, cover seen right), and his own title, Jughead as Captain Hero! Most stories were by writer Frank Doyle and artist Bill Vigoda. Archie and Betty had taken a slightly humorous approach to superheroics, and Juggie, as usual, went even farther.

Just as Archie calls upon his "inner goodness" to transform to Captain Pureheart The Powerful, and Betty becomes Super Teen by twisting her ponytail, Jughead had his unique method of becoming Captain Hero -- he recited a mystic incantation over his beanie! It went like this (story by Frank Doyle, art by Dan Decarlo):
Another dream! What are they putting in the water in Riverdale?!?!? It seems to have given Forsythe "Jughead" Jones some major power fantasies, because Captain Hero had whatever super power was convenient or necessary. He had lots of powers.

Left, Capt. Hero utilizes his "inner ear short wave radio waves." Below, he demonstrates abilities like those of Chameleon Boy of the Legion of Super Heroes (pictured right), who can change his shape into anything. When a big metal ball is menacing Riverdale, it's Captain Hero to the rescue, as...
Jughead as Captain Hero #4 Jughead as Captain Hero #5 Jughead as Captain Hero #6
LITTLE ARCHIE as LITTLE PUREHEART!
LITTLE ARCHIE #1, 1956 SUPERBOY #124, OCT 1965 LITTLE ARCHIE #40
SUPER KID STUFF!

Younger versions of existing heroes were nothing new to comics. Little Archie had been telling stories of the young Mr. Andrews ever since Little Archie #1 (July 1956, cover by Little Archie's main creator, Bob Bolling, shown above left). In the mid 1960s, Superboy's title often showcased tales of the Man of Steel as a baby, including "Superbaby's First Fight!" from Superboy #124 (Oct 1965, cover pictured above center).

So, it was only a matter of time before Little Archie retroactively reflected his older self's recent heroic transformation, and Little Archie became Little Pureheart! The character only had three appearances in total -- below are two panels from the first one, in Little Archie #40 (fall 1966), showing what happens when Little Archie "calls upon the power of his inner goodness."

PUREHEART CONQUERS THE WORLD

Shown left is a SPANISH edition of "Archi," featuring the debut of "El Heroico Archi" in Archi #167. This story was translated from the original, written by Frank Doyle with art by Bob White and Marty Epp.

The Spanish cover blurb reads: “El Heroico Archi se enfrenta al peligroso... Cubo De Hielo" The original cover, seen right, had read: "Enter Pureheart, teenage superhero, to battle the diabolical super-fink.... The Ice Cube!”

Now that Archie's supporting cast -- including his younger self -- had been turned into superheroes, what would happen next? You guessed it, reader! It's time for Riverdale's three super teens to unite against evil! Be here tomorrow as Pureheart, Captain Hero and Super Teen team up to battle crime and injustice together as... THE UNITED THREE!

PART THREE OF FIVE
The United Three!

RECAP: Once Archie Comics had presented the first appearances and origin stories of Archie as Pureheart, Betty as Super Teen, Reggie as Evilheart, and Jughead as Captain Hero, it was only a matter of time before they all got together and formed a "JLA" style group of superheroes.

It happened in Life With Archie #50 (June 1966), cover pictured right. As the cover blurb says, "For the first time in any comic book! What evil can prevail against these invincible heroes... THE UNITED THREE!"

In their premiere appearance, the United Three go up against Evilheart, Mad Dr. Doom, "and the rest of the bad guys," as it says on the cover. Pictured below are several panels from this story -- it starts with Riverdale High principle Mr. Weatherbee being very nasty to Archie's teacher, Miss Grundy!
 

Thus ended the first adventure of the United Three! But like all its members, the team's first appearance was NOT an origin story -- that came later. In the case of the Three Who Are United, it came in Betty And Me #5, cover shown right

This is a key issue in the Pureheart Age of Comics, because it featured origin stories for both the United Three and Jughead as Captain Hero! We covered the Captain Hero story in part two of this five-part "Pureheart Origins" series. Now, it's time for the origin of the United Three!

Don't expect too much, reader. "Infinite Crisis" this ain't. In the Pureheart Universe, an origin story is usually as simple as a character walking into the panel and announcing their name. The fun is in that very simplicity of approach! Here's a few panels from the origin of the United Three, written by Frank Doyle and drawn by Dan Decarlo, it's Archie's Super Teens "To The Rescue!"



"Holy Hero Worship! I say Pureheart The Powerful deserves his own title!"

PUREHEART THE POWERFUL #1 PUREHEART THE POWERFUL #2 PUREHEART THE POWERFUL #3
THE TROUBLE WITH THE TITLE

With the Batman TV at the height of its popularity, Pureheart The Powerful got his very own title in September 1966, by Richard Goldwater and Victor Gorelick, with issues #1's cover penciled by Bill Vigoda, brother of TV's "Fish," Abe Vigoda. With issue #4, the book was retitled Captain Pureheart. No other names were changed, and no official reason was given for the change. So why was it made? One clue might be the design of Pureheart's new logo, which was highly similar to Captain Hero's heroic latter-day logo (shown right).

Perhaps superior sales of "Captain Hero" clued Archie Comics in to the fact that superheroic logos and titles that include the rank "Captain" can increase a book's sales by alerting potential fans that there was a SUPER HERO story inside an Archie comic. But whatever the reason, Archie's superhero name was changed, and he will be known forevermore as Captain Pureheart The Powerful!
CAPTAIN PUREHEART #3 CAPTAIN PUREHEART #5 CAPTAIN PUREHEART #6
NAME THAT VILLAIN!

Something about a story in Captain Pureheart #6 (splash page pictured above) has always bothered me. It's that suspicious character lurking outside Lodge mansion. He's the super villain of this story, but his NAME is never given! They actually go eleven pages with ever naming the guy. This alarming lapse in continuity cannot be allowed to continue. Let's give this super-baddie a name right here and now, for the first time ever!

Since the story is titled "The Scent of Forgetfulness," and it's about a gas that induces amnesia, I say we call this super villain... The Scent! How does that smell? And hey -- doesn't the Scent's uniform look awfully familiar? In fact, it's almost exactly like the original uniforms of a certain marvelous group of teenage mutants (pictured right)! It's almost... uncanny, isn't it!

Of course, the Scent wasn't the ONLY bad guy Pureheart and pals fought -- in fact, there were dozens of them! Who were they? What inspired them? Answers next issue, as we examine the Pureheart rogues gallery!
BONUS! "TWO-PAGE" MAP of RIVERDALE!

PART FOUR OF FIVE
Bring On The Bad Guys!

RECAP: Riding the mid-1960s wave of superhero popularity, Archie Comics turned Archie and his supporting cast into superheroes! And what good is a super HERO without a super VILLAIN to fight? In this, part four of our five-part series on the origins of Captain Pureheart, we examine the Powerful One's rogues gallery. Let's start with his archenemy.

Just as Archie turns into Pureheart by calling on the PH Factor that activates the pureness of his heart, Archie's "f riend" Reggie calls upon the blackness in HIS heart to become... EVILHEART! Here's Reggie's first appearance as Evilheart, from Life With Archie 48, April 1966.
Here are three of Reggie's cover appearances as Pureheart's nemesis, the evil Evilheart!
And, when Little Archie became Little Pureheart, Little Reggie became Little Evilheart!
Now, a brief rundown of major members of the Pureheart Rogues Gallery!
THE OCTOPUS!
OCTOPUS #1 SPIDEY #11 PUREHEART #1
Octopi have been headlining comics for decades. Above: A 1939 pulp titled "The Octopus." Marvel's Doctor Octopus aka Doc Ock (above center) came on the scene in 1963. So, there had been a long line of octopi several years before the debut of The Octopus in Pureheart #1, October 1966. Powers? Doc Ock had four mechanical arms, while The Octopus had... a red turtle neck sweater/skirt with an octopus emblem on it. Ummm... Pow.
TARMAN THE TERRIBLE!
The ICE CUBE!
The Ice Cube appears to be a knockoff of the Batman villain originally called Mr. Zero (shown right), and later renamed Mr. Freeze after he appeared on the Batman TV show with that name. Mister Zero first appeared in “The Ice Crimes of Mr. Zero,” from Batman #121, Feb 1959, reprinted in Batman Giant #176, December 1965.

From the looks of his square head and ice cube studded body, it seems the Ice Cube's creators took the concept of an ice-inspired character quite literally. No explanation is given as to where such a creature might have come from. Shown left: Mr. Freeze as played by George Saunders. Below, Pureheart vs. the Ice Cube!
 
FANG FINKSTER!
The COLLECTOR!
COMPUTO!
What happens when you mix the Invincible Iron Man with Computo the Conqueror, automated foe of the Legion of Super Heroes? You get Computo, automated foe of Captain Pureheart, that's what! The evil robot was colored both gray and gold in various reprintings of his debut story. Computo is seen below in gold, being directed by Evilheart to attack Veronica and Archie.
HOTFOOT!
Is it hotfoot in here, or is it just me? Here's Hotfoot, a Captain Hero villain who bears more than a slight resemblance to Harvey Comics' little devil kid, Hot Stuff (pictured right). Of course, Hotfoot was originally yellow, and all devil-inspired characters have similar appearances -- even Daredevil looks a little bit like Hot Stuff, for that matter. But given Archie Comics' track record of (ahem) "borrowing" liberally from other companies, it's more than likely that Hot Stuff inspired Hotfoot (pictured below) to join the Pureheart Rogues Gallery.
The CONSUMER!
BLACK WIDOW!
Marvel introduced Natasha Romanoff aka The Black Widow way back in Tales of Suspense #52 (April 1964, cover detail shown left). Tasha was just a super spy, and didn't wear a costume in her first appearance. She got that sexy black jumpsuit a few months later. Meanwhile, over in Pureheart Universe, Little Pureheart fought his own version of the Black Widow in his debut appearance, in Little Archie #40 (Fall 1966). Below, Little Pureheart and Little Evilheart battle the Black Widow as she rises on her "webbing," aka filament wire!
The POSTMAN!
DOCTOR DETEST!
The LOOKER!
Here's a first for the Pureheart Rogues Gallery -- a villainess whose name was NOT stolen from another comic book, but who had her own name stolen and applied to a member of "Batman and The Outsiders." That villainess is known as the Looker!

Pictured right is the copycat Looker, the Outsiders' Looker, drawn by Alan Davis. This Looker has the distinction of owning one of the most idiotic costumes in comic book history. I mean, just err... LOOK at her. Pureheart's Looker didn't need gaudy clothes to battle the good Captain -- she could just zap him with the power of her "evil eye," which could render men unconscious with a single glance! The Looker is shown below, preparing to fight our hero!
 
The DEMON DROPOUT!
The BLOODSHOT EYE!
In a scene reminiscent of Spider-man's classic first encounter with Doctor Doom way back in Spidey #5, the Bloodshot Eye (shown right without disguise) attacks Pureheart.

In the Spidey story, Flash Thompson dresses up as Spidey to play a trick on Peter Parker. Unfortunately, Dr. Doom thinks Flash is Spidey, and kidnaps him as Peter walks by on the other side of the fence! In the Pureheart story, the Bloodshot Eye dresses up as Reggie to play a trick on Pureheart, who sees him walking with Betty from behind a fence. Compare!
Speaking of Marvel's Dr. Doom, here's Pureheart's MAD DOCTOR DOOM!
Although Mad Dr. Doom's name might lead you to believe he's a copy of Dr. Doom, the character actually has little in common with Marvel's Mad Monarch (seen left on the cover of Fantastic Four #57, Oct 1967).

Mad Dr. Doom was originally a Little Archie villain, and his real inspiration was the archenemy of Captain Marvel, a mad scientist named Dr. Sivana (pictured right). Captain Marvel creator C.C. Beck based Sivana on his own local Long Island pharmacist, complete with horn-rimmed glasses, bald head and white pharmacist's jacket. Below, Pureheart's Mad Dr. Doom is also bald with a white druggist's jacket!
 
The WITCH DOCTOR, DR. NOSE, THE WHISTLER, and the CONSUMER!
Ever since the Injustice Gang formed way back in All-Star Comics #37 (October 1947), it's been mandatory for the criminal community to combat superhero groups by forming supper villain groups. It's still happening today, in books such as DC's Villains United mini-series. The Pureheart Universe was no exception!

Below is a team-up of four villains united: Witch Doctor, Dr. Nose, the Whistler, and the Consumer. This group never was never given an official name, so let's give them one now. Following the grand old Pureheart tradition of taking "inspiration" from existing comic books, let's "pay tribute to" a name first used by a quartet of evil FF villains, and call them -- The Frightful Four!
The CANCELLATION NOTICE!
Pureheart's greatest foe, the one foe not even he could triumph over, was cancellation. In November 1967 -- after seven issues of "Captain Hero," six issues of "Pureheart," six issues of Super Teen in "Betty and Me," five issues of Evilheart in "Reggie and Me," and three appearances of Little Pureheart in "Little Archie" -- the entire Pureheart universe... ceased to exist.

It wasn't the result of some infinite crisis, it was plain old cancellation due to finite sale s. With the superhero fad winding down, the Archie superhero line vanished. The company resumed printing humor-oriented teen stories, and the entire Pureheart Family dropped out of sight. Then, 40 years later...

PART FIVE OF FIVE
Return of the SuperTeens!

RECAP: The Pureheart Age of Comics had begun in October 1965 in "Life With Archie" #42's "Enter Pureheart!" But then, in November 1967, the Pureheart line was abruptly canceled. As the Pureheart family lay dormant, years turned into decades, and it seemed as though Pureheart The Powerful's fabled "PH Factor" had permanently erased all memory of Archie's Super Teens from Riverdale. It looked like Pureheart, Captain Hero, Super Teen and Evilheart would never be seen again. Then, 40 years later...
The whole Pureheart gang returned in 1994, in a four-issue mini-series from Archie Comics. These extra-sized issues reprinted the best of the old Pureheart tales, including every character's "origin" story -- but the real excitement about these books, for Pureheart fans, is that they each contain a NEW story featuring the whole Pureheart gang. Each new story is drawn by top comic artists known for their superhero work, and not generally associated with the Archie-verse. Below are several panels from these stories, followed by a look at the THREE NEW superheroes introduced in the Archie's Super Teens series.


by JOE STATON



by BRETT BELVINS and TERRY AUSTIN



by SCOTT BEADERSTAT and MIKE ESPOSITO




by STUART IMMOMEN

 
MISS GRUNDY as THE INCREDIBLE GRUNDY!
SOLOMON GRUNDY INCREDIBLE HULK GERALDINE GRUNDY
BORN ON A MONDAY

"Archie's Super Teens" also featured the debut of several NEW characters in the Pureheart Universe, starting with Archie's homeroom/English teacher. In the Golden Age, Solomon Grundy was a Green Lantern villain. As far as I know, Solomon was not related to Geraldine Grundy aka Miss Grundy, Archie’s teacher. In one story, Miss Grundy’s first name is said to be Grisensnable, but she is usually referred to as Geraldine Grundy. Did you know Miss Grundy was a pickle factory worker before she became a teacher at Riverdale High School! (Obviously, the school has the highest of standards.)

As a teacher, Miss Grundy personifies the prudish battle axe with a heart of gold. She pushes her students to excel, but deep down she's secretly quite fond of them. It was only fitting that when Miss Grundy joined the Pureheart superhero set, it was as a spoof of a certain "hulking" character similar to Solomon Grundy in strength and intellect... The Incredible Grundy!
MOOSE as MIGHTY MOOSE!
Marmaduke "Moose" Mason is Riverdale's resident dumb jock. Known for his bulging biceps and flaccid report cards, Moose joined the Pureheart Family as Mighty Moose. This character was seen only once, in the panel shown below. Mighty Moose seems to be having a bit of trouble with shrinkage. (No, not THAT kind... I mean uniform shrinkage!)
VERONICA as MISS VANITY


ARCHIE COMICS HOUSE AD
From Archie Giant #142: Archie's Superhero Special, 1966

 

ARCHIE #122 ARCHIE'S GIRLS B&V #67 SUPERTEENS #4
VANITY, THY NAME IS... VERONICA

Poor Veronica! She's been with Archie since day one, but the entire superhero thing somehow managed to pass her by completely. Veronica, miss a fad? Unthinkable! Just look at Ronnie on the cover above center, copying Jackie Kennedy's hairstyle when it was all the rage. The girl has a passion for fashion! If half of Riverdale had gone superhero crazy, then it was only right that Veronica Lodge become a superhero too, just like Pureheart's other pals and gals!

I don't want to put down Veronica's fashion sense, so I'm not going to say which female recording artist (known for dressing like a tramp) was the inspiration for Ronnie's superhero costume. All I'm saying is that pictured right is a woman wearing a vintage 1980s Halloween costume of this person, and she doesn't really look "like a virgin" in it. Is she vogue-ing? Good Lourdes! That's all I'm saying.

Anyway -- with the unnamed person described above as her inspiration, Veronica finally got all super and stuff in "Archie's Super Teens" #4 (1994, cover above right, panels below), when our Miss Lodge became... Miss Vanity!
The RETURN of CAPTAIN HERO!
The new adventures of Pureheart and company didn't end in the 90s. This March, Captain Hero is making a comeback! It all starts when Jughead uses his imagination -- and reader, as you know after reading this series on the secret origins of Captain Pureheart, when characters in the Pureheart Universe use their imaginations... they become superheroes!

In Jughead #172, in a new story titled “Super Stomach,” Jughead imagines what it would be like to have a super-stomach, which would allow him to indulge in one of his passions -- eating -- all day, every day! Pictured below is a rough from the story by Craig Boldman, regular writer on the Jughead title. Thanks for the page, Craig! (Jughead #172 goes on sale March 22, 2006.)
 
The WRAP UP!
Archie as Captain Pureheart The Powerful! The character and his world began as a dream, took shape as a reoccurring fantasy, and finally broke through into Riverdale reality. If the continuity of the Pureheart Universe seems to be in an ever-changing flux, blame the PH Factor. Don't blame the writers -- there was only one! That's right, the same person -- Frank Doyle -- wrote every single story set in the mid-1960s Pureheart Universe! But that was back in the days when FUN mattered more than "continuity."

Where is Captain Pureheart today? Oh, he's still around. He just changed back to a certain red-haired teenager, and busied himself with appearing in the ten zillion Archie titles currently being published. When will Pureheart, Super Teen, and Captain Hero return again? When they are needed, of course. That's what superheroes always do. They show up in the nick of time, fight the good fight, and save the day. Just imagine!
 

Thanks to Robby Reed of Dial B for Blog to allowing his Bolg to be republished here

See more of his work at Dial B for Blog.com

 

AMAZING BOY

AGENT SWIFT

BLACK HOOD

BLACK HOOD II

BLACK HOOD III

BLACK HOOD IV

BLACK JACK

BLACK WITCH

BOB PHANTOM

BOBBY BELL

BOY BUDDIES

BRAIN EMPEROR

CAPTAIN COMMANDO

CAPTAIN FLAG

CAPTAIN SPROCKET

CAPTAIN VALOR

CAT GIRL

COMET

COMET II

DAN HASTINGS

DARKLING

DOC REEVES

DOC STRONG

DUSTY

FALCON

FIREBALL

FIREBALL II

FIREFLY

FIREFLY ii

FLY

FLY II

FLY GIRL

FLY GIRL II

FOX

FOX II

GHOST FOX

GREEN COBRA

GREEN FALCON

HANGMAN

HANGMAN II

HANGMAN III

HERCULES

INFERNO

JAGUAR

JAGUAR II

KALTHAR

KARDAK

LADY SHIELD

MADAM SATAN

MARVEL

MIGHTY CRUSADERS

MISTER JUSTICE

MISTER MIDNIGHT

MISTER SATAN

NEVADA JONES
NEW CRUSADERS

O VINGADOR

POW-GIRL

PRESS GUARDIAN

QUEEN OF DIAMONDS
RANG-A-TANG

RED RUBE

RED RUBE II

ROCKET

ROY

SCARLET AVENGER

SHADOW

SHE-FOX

SHE-FOX II

SHIELD

SHIELD II

SHIELD III

SHIELD IV

SHIELD V

SHIELD VI

SHIELDMASTER

SLIVER FOX

SPIDERMAN

SLIVER SPIDER

STEEL STERLING

STEEL STERLING II

TURAN

TY-GOR
WAR EAGLES

WEB

WEB II

WEB III

WIZARD

ZAMBINI

 

Created by Rik Offenberger September 18, 2003

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