We've seen today's Archie coming for a while now. As you know, its creator, the randy monk Brother Francis, is unable to stop himself from drawing nubile young girls, even when they have nothing to do with the content of his gag. Betty and Veronica are expressions of his fantasies, but of late, he seems to have been growing tired of them; they have faded into the background, replaced by a parade of mute, busty beauties. Almost every comic Brother Francis draws is a desperate cry for help.
Today, he comes out of the cell* and blatantly inserts himself into the strip. The girl in the foreground of the first panel is basically right up against the picture plane, almost within reach of the reader but much further away from Dilton and Archie. She has the usual impossibly gigantic breasts and just a hint of a bare thigh beneath a tiny skirt. Notice that in panel 2, it is Dilton who expresses aloud his opinion that the girl is "very pretty," though he immediately returns to his book. He here represents one of Francis's companion monks; Francis sees him as rapt in his contemplation of marine biology (i.e., the study of life moving over the face of the waters, i.e., the Bible in disguise);** he can appreciate beauty but not be distracted by it. Archie/Francis, on the other hand, has his pupils turn into little hearts just from seeing a perfect stranger pass by. Francis's lust is beginning to overwhelm him; he is unable to keep it from taking over his work entirely.***
There is also evidence here that Francis may be cracking up. That comic book with Jughead on the cover has been making the rounds lately, here in company with a profoundly creepy Archie marionette. Francis is becoming awfully meta; he is acknowledging the fictional properties of his comic within the comic itself. In addition, today's comic actually places Dilton in front of a tilted and skewed picture plane in the second panel, as if he is falling right out of the strip. It is really only a matter of time before Francis loses it completely and has a mysterious new character show up to reveal to Archie that he is the One, destined to liberate the residents of Riverdale from the comic-strip world and show them the gritty reality beyond the panels.****
Someone needs to get that boy a secret girlfriend. At this rate, he'll be having mystical visions in the desert before he turns thirty.
*As it were.
**I'm not sure who that makes the guy on the back cover, but since Francis is busy tumbling headfirst into sin anyway, I'm suspecting God.
***I think somebody needs an intervention. Break out the holy water and the hair shirts, Brothers!
****Or was that The Matrix? I forget.