- Posted by Johanna on June 18, 2006 at 1:39 pm
- Category: Archie Comics
I don’t know how long this series has been running the “Girl Power!” tagline on its covers, but it’s not very well supported by the contents. (Since issue #216, apparently.)
The first story starts out well — the girls are at the beach, typical for the summer comics, but instead of chasing boys or showing off their suits, Betty’s trying to teach herself to stand on her head. After making some snide comments, Veronica joins in, and the two work together to try different approaches until they succeed. It’s even clear enough that someone reading could try it.
So what’s the problem? The last page. The girls finally succeed and call out to Archie, passing by, to share their accomplishment. Archie’s response, “Talk about charm! I’ve got the girls standing on their heads for me!”, makes it all about him.
The next story is a page-filler where the writer puts herself into the story. Betty and Veronica are complaining that nothing’s happening, so they search out the writer, who reveals that she’s blocked. Betty and Veronica briefly decide to try and wind up squabbling over who gets Archie. The only worthwhile piece is the last panel, in which the editor calls on the phone, and the writer responds “Good! HE can talk to them!”
That line made me laugh, but the rest of it seemed disrespectful to the readers, who deserve better. I’m reminded of the quote, “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” The more I read stories about not being able to come up with a story, the cheaper I find the technique. Looking on the bright side, though, at least the readers get to see a female comic creator in action, even if it’s all about her inaction.
Story three continues the weirdness. I don’t want to go through the setup in depth, but it winds up with Betty on a simultaneous date with Archie and another cute guy she’s got a crush on. It’s oddly subversive in its polyamory.
The last one returns to cliché with the idea that girls can’t stay off the phone, even while on a beach date. Of course it’s rude to ignore the person you’re with to talk on the phone, but instead of teaching that lesson, the story is couched in terms of not damaging the male ego. The guys insist that dating them is more important than keeping up with female friends, which isn’t the same message at all. The end seems to imply that men fear feeling unnecessary in the face of female bonding. Lots of potential for interesting symbolic readings reflecting gender disparity in our culture, but taken as a story, eh.
The creative team is Kathleen Webb (writer), Jeff Shultz (pencils), and Al Milgrom (inks).