In a time of social upheaval and changing customs, how are romance comics to keep up? How are they to reinforce society's gender and relationship roles while staying exciting enough for young readers? How are they to depict modern love? Well, for one thing, they can just call their comic "Modern Love" and let the title do the heavy lifting.

I know, this comic is in absolutely awful condition. On the other hand, it's a pre-trend EC comic we got at a bargain price, so relax. If you crave excitement and want to watch it lead to near-tragedy, this is the comic for you!

Put on your strapless gown, get out your chess set, choose the football hero over the nice guy, and get ready to be drawn by Graham Ingels in one of his rare non-rotting-corpse stories! But first, this public service announcement.

Hey kids, teenagers, loiterers, and drugstore cowboys! YOU are resonsible for driving people away from the corner soda fountain and candy shop! YOU'RE the reason comics don't sell in the millions every month any more! Why not go down to the playground or the YMCA and loiter there? If only we had a million Hank Carters to set all the loitering teens in America straight. And now back to our story.

It's the day of the big mountain lodge dance and Fay's going to ride up there with Jimmy, except Jimmy has to drive his aunt over to Haverston and that's the complete opposite side of the mountain and he'd have to go from Haverston to the lodge the back way and won't be there until midnight and this has thrown all their plans into complete confusion! Now, Fay COULD ride with Jimmy and Jimmy's aunt and THEN go to the lodge, but for some reason that's not an option. Find your own ride, Fay!

The tragic need for more public transportation options has never been highlighted more tragically, or with so many hairstyles.

Gosh, I guess Fay had better call Nice Guy Bill, the boring, reliable backup that's always been there and whose own girlfriend is conveniently away!

With good old steady reliable boring Bill at the wheel, they set out for their date... with the Unknown! Sorry, wrong comic book. Modern Love, that's what their date's with.

Why, Gulch Bridge is washed out ahead, and Hairpin Turn is washing out behind! They're stuck in the hills, where they can either hire a cabin over by Foster's, or go to that spooky castle where everybody's singing tunes from an off-Broadway musical about science fiction double features.

Two unmarried young people forced to spend the night together alone and unsupervised? Why, this is against all the rules and customs of polite society and leads to a complete breakdown in morals, which is why most unmarried young people spend a lot of time contriving to get into these situations.

Of course the worst thing would be if they ran into someone they know, and of course the very first thing that happens is that they run into someone they know, bearing witness to their shameless, lustful attempt to not die in a car accident.

Well, hey, Joe's a responsible adult with a mustache, he'll act as the grown-up in the room and keep these two hormonal young people from ripping each other's clothes off. And now for some hamburgers and coffee. Mmm mmm, late night hamburgers and coffee. Maybe get some Tums or Maalox while you're at it.

And now it's time for the games to begin. The CHESS games, that is. Fay's never been able to beat Bill, Bill always seems to have things planned way in advance, she said, with but a hint of foreshadowing in her voice.

Up all night with hamburgers, coffee, and chess, but Fay seems full of energy and ready to party! What's in that coffee anyway?

Back in town it seems like everybody's giving them the hairy eyeball, as if they know all about that illicit night in the cabin with hamburgers and coffee and Joe and endless games of chess. THEY KNOW!!

That's what I love about small towns, the warm community, neighbors always looking out for each other, everybody's all up in everybody else's business, nobody has any privacy at all, a bunch of nosey busybodies gossiping and spreading rumors. Actually, that's what I HATE about small towns.

Ka-pow! Right in the bow tie! That's the end of THAT engagement! Interestingly enough, the doomed romance in the film "That Thing You Do!" also involved a Jimmy and a Faye. Was Tom Hanks using this issue of Modern Love as a template? Will this comic end with a drum solo and a broken recording contract?

Her life is ruined thanks to Bill and Bill's safe driving and Bill's insistence that they not die screaming as their car plunges down an embankment. And now here's Bill, let's go dancing!

Suddenly boring old sensible Bill is a smooth operator on the dance floor! It's important to dance well if you want to get anywhere in business, you know.

So Bill has spent all summer taking Fay to dances, parties, and beach dates, and she "never knew he cared?" Fay is kind of dense. Let's drive her up into the hills and past the Old Gulch Bridge and see if things don't start to become a little clearer for Fay.

So the entire thing - the car ride, the old man with the lantern telling them the roads were out, the night in the cabin, the seeminginly coincidental appearance of Bill's work friend Joe, the hamburgers and coffee, it was all part of Bill's plan to wreck both their previous engagements and get Fay for himself. Say you aren't angry, Fay! Maybe go with astonished, stunned, perhaps a bit afraid of this Machiavellian genius!

And the lesson here is that chicks really dig it when you pull complex gaslighting-type scenarios to bend them to your will. Now kiss me, you fool!

Here's Kupperman's Twain - or is it Einstein? - dropping in to wink and make everything just a little creepier. Happy Modern Love endings for all!'

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