How strange is it, that it would be Sam Peckinpah to articulate this moment?
Right at the end of The Wild Bunch there’s a moment that has absolutely no place in that movie. The Bunch have met up again, they’ve holed up in some anonymous house, but they encounter each other changed men. One look in their eyes and you know, individually, they’ve each committed themselves to rescuing Angel, held prisoner by the Mexican General, the movie’s chief villain.
It’s a flawless, near silent cinematic moment. The camera sweeps across the room. Each of The Bunch know with a certainty that the tensions between them will never be resolved. There’ll never be restitution. And yet, with an equal certainty, each one of them is now, uncharacteristically, committed to this greater thing of rescuing Angel.
And of course, this moment has no place in this movie. The Wild Bunch is a deep, resilient meditation on the breakdown of the Old West. Set at the turn of the twentieth century, The Wild Bunch is about a life that can no longer be sustained, and the Hard, Bad Men who are staring down the dissolution of the Frontier.
And right at the point where this movie culminates, is a cinematic moment that doesn’t belong, a secret love letter to the high life of crime. A statement every bit the equal of Capote or Chandler or Tupac. The idea that there’s no justice that isn’t made by hand, and that for The Bunch, the time for making justice has run out.
What stands out is that idea of meeting, the inevitability of it. That idea of banding together. And that same sense stands out again, in Archie Meets KISS. It’s the idea of two titans of popculture finally together. That idea of inner workings playing out desperately over time, that idea of unseen forces pushing these two together.
Or maybe that’s your sense for the first few moments, before an inner cynic can kick in. What do Archie and KISS have to do with each other anyway? Why, a wholesome, fun all-American setting, and a heavy metal glam band?
One line from The Catman, and the entire world opens up. “They’re taking the fun outta this town, and outta the people. No fun means no brains”. And the very next panel Archie and Jughead undercut the seriousness of this all. “So I may be lame forever?”, Archie asks. “Let’s deal with the problems we can solve”, Jughead quips.
If you haven’t read Archie Meets KISS as yet, please do. It is Thomas Jefferson’s dream of a Natural Aristocracy come true in popular culture. The idea that we needn’t be cast into predetermined roles of “glam rocker” or “wholesome comic”, the idea that with nothing more than our natural talents we can achieve a social complexity beyond what we were able to imagine.
Archie Meets KISS speaks to a secret, hopeful world where capacity to achieve outweighs limitations imposed on popular culture. It is a flawless piece that plays out the strengths of both Icons to maximum effect. But the exchange between Archie and Jughead right on the heels of The Catman explaining the rise of the zombies really does make this My Perfect Panel.
Please enjoy this exclusive preview of issue three.
// Notes from the Road
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