- Posted by Johanna on June 22, 2010 at 7:10 am
- Category: Archie Comics
- CREDITS: story by Melanie J. Morgan; pencils by Rod Whigham; inks by Al Milgrom
- PUBLISHER: Archie Comics; $3.99 US
The latest “New Look” project (with more soap opera and a different art style) is the first with a plot I’ve found worthy of a lengthy four-part story and the tendency to wallow in exaggerated emotion that comes along with it. Betty has decided to try out for the boys’ baseball team instead of sticking with softball.
The girls on the softball team are upset, because they had an award-winning season last year and want to repeat. The boys are upset, because they don’t want to play with a girl. Veronica is upset because she thinks it’s all a ploy for Betty to spend more time with Archie. (She often projects on Betty her own motivations and schemes.) All these different motivations allow for lots of reactions and character interaction.
The biggest flaw in the story is inadequately explaining Betty’s motivation. She mentions how much she really misses playing baseball, but as a non-athetic person, I didn’t understand … aren’t softball and baseball basically the same thing, except for the size of the ball? What’s the big appeal to her? We see lots about how others react to choice, but not enough about why she made it. She’s treated as a plot device at times, and I wanted to see more of her as a character.
Also, I understand that everyone’s responses have to be outsized to go along with the style of the story, but I found it implausible that all of Betty’s friends become so vicious so quickly. Are Midge and Nancy really so eager for sports glory that they turn on her for deserting them? Betty keeps saying “all you guys are great players, you can win without me,” but no one else seems to believe that, which contradicts the message of teamwork sports are supposed to instill. Are the guys really so misogynist that they ignore Betty’s abilities and shun her? (I found it interesting that, when we’re shown in one scene boys telling her they don’t want her on the team, we see the word balloons coming from off-screen, so we don’t know whether it’s our familiar friends yelling at her or “utility player” walk-on characters.) Is Archie so conservative that he won’t date her if she tries out? No one seems to want to ask her what she’s doing and why before jumping to conclusions, and it makes all the characters look unpleasant.
Still, I’m eager to see how this story plays out, and if we learn more about Betty’s choices in the following three parts.
Among the reprints, one of the oddest is one in which Veronica tries to outright buy the yearbook contest for Most Popular. She’s giving away cars and $100 bills on a scale that we don’t often see in the current comics. Even weirder are her outfits, which appear to have come from a light bondage-themed costume party. There’s a fitted minidress with a buckled collar around the neck, a cleavage-baring tight black minidress, and a short purple off-the-shoulder number with cutout lacing up the sleeves. Most are accompanied by knee-high black boots. It must have been the eighties, because in part two, she’s wearing a spaghetti strap tank top with pants with laces up the side and a dropped-waist wrap belt.
We’re starting to see more credits in the reprint stories, but only on the relatively modern ones. I’d like to see a brief note (nothing too obvious, nothing to scare off younger readers) on all the stories that included the original publication locations and dates as well as the artists responsible. That might require a good deal of research in some cases, I’m guessing.
I was quite touched by the older story where Betty digs up a paint-can time capsule in her backyard, then finds the woman who put it there in 1968. It’s sweet and gets the character away from Archie and Veronica for a while, a pleasant change.