Archie Comics for November 2007

Let’s catch up on some Archie comics from the past couple of months:

Betty #170 cover

Betty #170

A strong cover tease, where Betty turns down Archie because she doesn’t want to be a “second-hand girl”, leads to a story that completely undercuts the meaning. Her guardian angel tells Betty to have more pride, so she tells off Archie when he calls to ask her to the dance, thinking that he called Veronica first. As soon as he says, “no, I didn’t know Veronica was out of town”, Betty crumbles, happy to have a dreamy night with him.

The message winds up being that if you try to stand up for yourself, you’ll turn out to be wrong. And nothing matters if you get to have one date with the boy you like. Of course, they can’t really have Betty decide to move on, or the decades-long love triangle that fuels so many of these stories will be gone. But there are more amusing and less twisted ways to play with the expectations.

The second story isn’t much better, with Betty giving her friends the gift of time and her skills, but regretting it afterwards. She concludes that buying objects is a better choice. I guess that’s why the last page has an ad at the bottom encouraging readers to shop for Archie products online.

Archie & Friends #114 cover

Then there’s the tale in which Betty doesn’t bother to tell rivals Archie and Adam that she doesn’t like penguins, instead choosing to leave them in the dark about her true tastes because she sees the quantity of gifts they give her as significant, even if they’re based on a completely mistaken assumption. No wonder so many couples are screwed up about gifts (a particular problem during the holiday season, when commercial messages scream about how only diamonds show your love).

Archie & Friends #114

Cricket O’Dell is an only-in-comics wacky character who has a nose for money. She can literally smell it, and in the lead story here, she even demonstrates the ability to predict the financial future, telling people how much money they will have. It’s silly, but it’s likeable and amusing. In a backup story, Nancy demonstrates her strength by protecting Jughead with karate, a pleasant change, even if she’s playing games with her boyfriend instead of telling him how she feels.

Jughead & Friends Digest #24 cover

Jughead and Friends Digest #24

Jughead’s mom buys him “the newest body spray that all the teenagers are trying!” It promises to “drive the girls crazy” and it actually does. Cue up a story where girls chase Jughead and he hates it.

This is a potential full of promise, but it’s handled so badly. First, the story doesn’t have much resolution or point. Jughead sprays, gets chased, dives in swimming pool, girls get bored and leave. Why not explore how jealous Archie becomes of his friend’s sudden magnetism? Or explore why Jughead hates the idea so much? Or have something happen beyond a simple chase?

More importantly, there should have been some in-story reason given why such a ridiculous advertising claim turns out to be true. As it is, it encourages kids to be brainless sheep as consumers. I have to wonder if the publisher was angling for product placement in this story or hoping to attract similar products as advertisers.

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