- Posted by Johanna on April 21, 2007 at 1:55 pm
- Category: Archie Comics
Quick thoughts on two recent Betty & Veronica comics.
Betty & Veronica Digest #173 was predictable and boring, full of generic sitcom plots — Veronica flatters people to win Teen Queen, Betty gets stuck trying on a wedding dress, the Lodges’ butler told his mum that he was the rich guy and Mr. Lodge was the butler, Cheryl has a party while her parents are out of town — until the Josie & the Pussycats reprints started.
In the first one, Valerie’s fallen in love with a clarinet player with the symphony and is embarrassed because she thinks he’ll think popular music is low-class. Great dialogue exchange:
Josie: So you don’t think he’d like rock’n'roll?
Valerie: Would Shakespeare read comic books?
Josie: If they’d have been around at the time, I think he’d have written them!
She’s totally right. And it’s neat to see a story where everyone likes different things and ends up crossing boundaries without preconceptions. All in only five pages, too!
The next one is a trifle where the boys are wallpapering and the girls are baking a cake (gender preconceptions? where?) and they manage to get the paste and the icing swapped. It’s dumb, especially since the colorist made the spread brown for chocolate. White would have been more plausible, although that’s a ridiculous thing to say about the whole piece. The last one plays off of Alex Cabot being girl-crazy and Melody being clumsy, but it set up a nice double-cross on the reader.
The Betty and Veronica stories pick up after the break, with the girls demonstrating a certain kind of creativity, even if it is in support of such traditional subjects as fashion and shopping and getting revenge.
The cover of Betty & Veronica #225 is strangely self-referential, with the girls reading each other’s comics. The cover copy “I wonder what she’s been up to?” makes me wonder if it’s intended to attract readers reminded of the books’ existence after recent news coverage of the upcoming change.
The first story is oddly mis-targeted. It’s been promoted and positioned as the two girls becoming superheroes (“When Cheryl Blossom threatens to steal Archie away, Betty and Veronica become super-heroic protectors of their man in this costumed-crusader fable!”), but anyone who knows comics will recognize that what they really become are manga-style magical girls.
The two girls yell “Chic change mode begin!”, spiral ribbons of color surround them, and they get new outfits. They yell attacks like “handbag bombardment swirl!” and gesture to take out their opponent. The names give it away. “Elegant Pure Fashion Diva Supreme” and “Ever-Adorable Pretty Game Star Deluxe” are not typical American costume monikers.
It’s all in service of a fight that achieves nothing, and I think it would have been more interesting to read with artists who demonstrated more knowledge of what they were supposed to be homaging/evoking.
The other stories deal with catching a cold, giving a pet fashion party, and an oddly miserable one about how Veronica is never given the benefit of the doubt even when she works for charity. The message, about not making assumptions, is a good one, but it’s so downbeat — it seems to have ended at the wrong time. Either more or less of it would have been preferable.