Archie Comics for April 2009

Perhaps in connection with Earth Day, perhaps just because it’s a hot issue among teens, many of the comics this month have pages on “Let’s Go Green!” (A less charitable observer may suspect that it may also be related to the industry-wide declining ad sales that are affecting every print publication — the only non-Archie ads this month are a donated Ad Council page encouraging kids to be active and the back cover, promoting “Toxic Waste Bubble Gum”. The company apparently has plenty of page space to play with.) It’s a popular topic; Betty & Veronica Spectacular #81 covered the same subject a little over a year ago. This time around, it starts with:

Betty #179

Betty #179

The cover story features Betty and her classmates working to hold a Green Day event even with school budget cuts. (Green Day, not Earth Day? The band with that name appears to have nothing to do with it.) The premise is realistic and timely, but the conclusion, in which the kids raise a ton of money just from collecting recyclables from the community, is firmly in la-la land. For one thing, wouldn’t a neighborhood with so much interest in an ecology event already have an established recycling plan? Why would families have so much recyclable material lying around? For another, who’s paying out that much money for cans and bottles?

The next story features Betty getting a job as a “Megamart” greeter. If we want to talk about improving the community, why not discuss the horrible employment practices of Wal-Mart? I’m also curious about what kind of company hires a teen to work 9-5 two days in a row. But I’m applying much too much logic and real-world rationales to what’s meant to be fluffy humor. And the idea that even the gregarious Betty would find it difficult to be pleasant for eight hours straight is a funny one.

The next story teaches the lesson “Never pet sit for a neighbor.” (It even says this in a caption.) Betty takes care of a neighbor’s little dog, Precious. It’s nice to see a story that depends on the visuals, with the dog running under furniture and the large “Yip!” balloons. (Too many comic stories can be followed just fine barely looking at the pictures, which doesn’t use the full potential of the medium.) It’s unfortunate that amateur glitches mar the presentation. On page one, the neighbor’s name is variously Mrs. Gray and Mrs. Grey. The next page has an exchange between Betty and her father that is arranged so that the reader see Betty’s response before finishing reading the father’s question. Later, Betty asks the dog to “come on up” while the dog is drawn hopping down off the bed. Mistakes can happen to anyone, so I guess this one was just triple-dog dared.

The book ends with two pages on the Green theme, covering “Little Changes, Big Difference!” I was impressed that the Green pages are different in every issue. Archie #595, for example, has gas-saving tips, a great choice given the running gag of Archie’s clunker car. Betty & Veronica #241 covers “Recycle & Reuse”. Then there’s

Jughead #194

Jughead #194

“Jughead’s Green Tips” don’t have a clever title, but they’re all food-related, as suits the character. The rest of the issue isn’t related, but it’s darn funny.

First, Jughead tries to outsmart everyone at the teen job fair. He doesn’t want a summer job, so he comes up with whoppers to make himself appear employable. I love stories that show off Jughead’s imagination, because it’s part of what makes the character so unique. And his tales make for humorous exaggerated images, too. The ending was unexpected but a perfect capper.

The next piece is a Jughead/Ethel story that thankfully relies more on Jughead’s egotism than making fun of Ethel. She gets him ugly but extremely comfy sandals, which he hates at first sight, only to find himself hoist on his own petard when he can’t admit he was wrong. The story makes great visuals of Jughead’s new love of motion. I’m not sure how many readers will get the keep on truckin’ gag, but it made me smile.

Last, there’s an amusing piece from Hot Dog’s point of view, where he’s an extremely loyal partner to getting Jughead out of bed and to a new bakery opening. The panel where Hot Dog is dragging the sheet — with boy still on it — down the stairs is worth the attention all by itself.

Betty & Veronica Double Digest #169

Betty Veronica Double Digest #169

I know they’re trying to do something different by playing around with Cheryl and her Pembrooke snob pals. I thought those characters were useful because they can be mean and evil, unlike the title girls, but after seeing Betty and Veronica’s behavior in the lead story here, I’m stunned.

The two girls are sitting around complaining how bored they are, since Archie’s visiting Pembrooke. I’m supposed to believe these two active young women (based on all the stories told about them) can’t think of anything to do without a boy? Cheryl’s friend Becky is pursuing Archie while making him over. B&V don’t want to appear to be as desperate as they are, so they enlist Veronica’s cousin Marcy to spy for them. Once they find out what’s going on, they decide the best plan is to lure him out alone and then attack him. As Veronica says, “We’ll jump out and hold him down.” What weird alternate universe have I wandered into, where B&V get physical when they get jealous? What kind of message is this sending about relationships?

But wait, it gets worse! How does the gang finally get Archie out of the rich kids’ clutches? Jughead goes over and hits him with his hat. The slap brings Archie back to his senses — but why would he think that these people are his “real friends”, given the way they’re acting?

I just realized that Veronica’s stories should be much more interesting than they are — she’s a bored but good-hearted socialite with near-infinite resources. She should be as entertaining as Serena van der Woodsen, but instead, even when a writer tries to put some emotion into these stories, it winds up going terribly wrong.


4 Responses to “Archie Comics for April 2009”

  1. Captain Spaulding Says:

    In the Betty & Veronica Double Digest, there was a reprint of a story where Betty is convinced to call Archie rather than wait for him to call her. She invites him over and Mr. Cooper fumes throughout the date. “What’s that kind of behavior going to get her?” he demands. The punchline is Mrs. Cooper saying “In my case, it got me a husband.”

    The thing is the punchline was clearly re-lettered (lettering style was different and there was extra space in the balloon). So what the heck was the original punchline?

  2. Johanna Says:

    I noticed that too — great question! I don’t know how to get it answered, though, unless someone happens to remember reading that story in its original form.

    I can think of two reasons it might have been relettered: 1. it used really outdated slang or expressions; or 2. it expressed an attitude that’s no longer acceptable about women. But I have no idea which it might be.

  3. Captain Spaulding Says:

    Via MightyGodKing.com, here’s the answer.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Woo hoo! Mom says “A lot more fun than I ever had!” Must have been the 70s. :)




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