outlaw motorcycle gangs

28 thoughts I had while watching Riverdale 1x11

1. Josie! You look great, babe. Where you been?
2. Camera pans from focusing on Veronica’s lips to Cheryl’s upper thigh. I see you. #CheronicaLives
4. Molly Ringwald should be in everything
5. Creating a title page just so everyone can see you named your manuscript “untitled” is some Jess Mariano level shit, Jughead.
6. Hold up, Archie, weren’t you trying to get Valerie back at that party, mere hours before hooking up with Veronica? Girl’s right, slow your shit down.
7. *Veronica turns down prospective boyfriend while receiving call from actual girlfriend* Gotta run! #BeronicaLives
8. Cherberonica? Beronicheryl?
9. How has Alice Cooper and her prepared list of seemingly innocuous questions become my favourite damn character?
10. #Fashionwatch: Betty’s excellent embroidered collar.
11. Well that’s fucking terrifying. Also explains how the whole family has red hair without some kind of Targaryen shit going on.
12. Ah yes, atop a ladder in a crowded school hall is the best place to have this very private conversation
13. Yep, totally love Alice now.
14. Emergency almond milk? Lol ok
15. A CLUE!
16. Are these the innocuous questions, Alice? Because I got to say, you’re kind of showing your hand.
17. I understand the need for a power play Betty but your dad is literally abusive
18. What’s in those milkshakes?
20. Cheryl totally still has that ring.
21. Are you wearing that red suit again, Archie? It remains very, very bad.
22. What, no lingering shot on the wardrobe where Jason’s fucking jacket is?
23. “How can we make the parents of Riverdale and even more explicit analogue to the Archie comics?” *pans to shot of Fred Andrews holding hands with both Mary and Hermione* “That’s perfect!”
24. He’s in an outlaw motorcycle gang. Of course he has a gun.
25. Don’t blame Betty, you dick!
26. Ah yes, interfering with a crime scene will make this better.
27. Oh my heart. Checking her breath with a mirror, Cheryl?
28. My baby Cheryl will crack this case.

“I grew up on a farm in the panhandle of Texas. One day I was driving my father’s tractor, feeling sorry for myself, and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I’d flunked out of law school. I couldn’t play football or tennis. The only thing I’d ever been good at was performing. In high school, I’d played the lead role in both the junior and senior plays. So I saved up enough money during the harvest season to buy a little red Yamaha motorcycle. Then I drove to Dallas so I could go into show business! I did some plays in Dallas, then I got a touring role in Fiddler on The Roof, then I rode my motorcycle to Hollywood to be a movie star! I got my first big role two months after I arrived. They paid me $500 a week for six weeks. I thought, “Man! This is Hollywood!’ My character was a cowboy outlaw in a motorcycle gang. He ended up getting killed by a pitchfork while trying to rescue the leader’s girlfriend from a hippie commune. You know how I got the part? I walked into the audition and told them I’d do the whole part cross-eyed. Just like this. You know how hard it is to ride a motorcycle cross-eyed? Almost impossible. But I did it! Unfortunately it ended up being the worst reviewed movie ever made.”

A comiXologist Recommends:
Harris Smith recommends The Humans #1

Indie comic creators have been making a big mark on the mainstream lately, what with the likes of American Barbarian creator tomscioli bringing infinitely imaginative, Kirby-esque style to IDW’s Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe, Copra and zegas creator Michel Fiffe lending his insightful take on superheroes to Marvel’s All-New Ultimates, and a host of underground talents (including Fiffe, Jim Rugg and Farel Dalrymple) providing backup stories for Dynamite’s Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers.  Now it’s Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely’s turn, and they’re laying waste to the comics landscape with their new simian biker epic from imagecomics, The Humans.  Keller is the founder of LA-based indie imprint Drippy Bone Books and creator of the psychotic sci-fi action odyssey Galactic Breakdown (aka Space Battleground 666), while Neely has instigated something of a phenomenon with his sublimely hilarious Henry & Glenn Forever (which imagines a tender domestic partnership between Black Flag singer Henry Rollins and Misfits founder Glenn Danzig, as well as their neighbors, a Satan-worshipping version of pop duo Hall & Oates).  In The Humans, this terrible twosome takes the grimy excesses of Roger Corman’s seminal biker flick The Wild Angels and places them in a Planet of the Apes-like alternate reality where monkeys and gorillas have replaced humans.

After the success of The Wild Angels and Easy Rider in the late 1960s, the biker genre was wildly popular in cinema, spawning drive-in classics like Hells Angels on Wheels, Chrome and Hot Leather, The Glory Stompers and Satan’s Sadists, and in pulp novels, but with the notable exception of Marvel’s Ghost Rider (and Skywald’s slightly more adult Hell-Rider, though that only lasted two issues), never really translated to comics, in no small because the staples of the genre include violence, drugs, sex and generally antisocial, anti-establishment behavior, none of which were viewed particularly favorably by the Comics Code Authority.  Fortunately, times have changed and now we can enjoy the anarchic bacchanalia of that bygone era without censorship or sugarcoating.

Though the ape aspect of The Humans is entertaining, it’s almost incidental, providing a neat hook for Keller and Neely’s superbly realized story about an outlaw motorcycle gang.  Led by the enigmatic Bobby, whose sunglasses and stoicism recall Peter Fonda’s Blue in the aforementioned Wild Angels, the gang includes the soulful Marra (his name presumably a sly nod to comic creator Benjamin Marra (traditionalcomics), who also provided a pin-up for this issue), old timer Doc, druggy Nada and the ominous Karns.  After the funeral of fallen club member Mojo, they find themselves locked in combat with rival gang the Skabbs, a crew so scummy they make the Humans look heroic by comparison.

 Like the great biker films that came before it, The Humans is a comic for the rest of us, for fans of the Cramps and Russ Meyer movies, for trashhounds and scumfiends, for dirtbags and burnouts and weirdos, for outsiders and outcasts and square pegs of every caste, for those, to paraphrase Peter Fonda in the Wild Angels, who want to be free to do what they wanna do, to have a good time and read awesome comics without getting hassled by The Man. 

[Read The Humans #1 on comiXology]

Harris Smith is a Brooklyn-based comics and media professional. In addition to his role as a Senior Production Coordinator at comiXology, he edits several comics anthologies, including Jeans and Felony Comics, under the banner of Negative Pleasure Publications. He’s also the host of the weekly radio show Negative Pleasure on Newtown Radio.