Betty & Veronica Double Digest #198

An Archie digest is a mixed bag, given its nature of reprints from all throughout the characters’ history. This one, though, I found particularly entertaining.

Betty & Veronica Double Digest #198 cover

It was the eighth story, “Topic of Discussion!”, that really stood out for me. It reminded me of how much I miss Kathleen Webb’s writing on Betty and Veronica. She has a wonderful voice that sounds like a real teenager. Nothing much happens in this five-pager, but that’s the point. It’s about how many things the girls can find to talk about and how lively a good conversation can be. Their wide-ranging interests make them seem like interesting and three-dimensional personalities. It’s a welcome portrait of just how involving these long-running characters can be with the right touch.

The digest begins with another example of the diversity of Betty and Veronica. They’re viewing a classic silent monster movie. Archie promises he’ll keep them from being too scared, but he’s the one that winds up surprised by how affecting an old film, even a silent one, can be.

A more disturbing thread in a couple of the stories is the acknowledgement that dating these days can be risky. One story has Veronica being hassled by a stranger who won’t let her say no to him. She’s rescued by Jughead, which has her upset at being in his debt. The topic is handled lightly, with snowball throwing, but it could have turned unpleasant. A later tale is even more disturbing, as the girls are followed around the mall by two cute guys. Betty’s concerned, but Veronica’s flattered. It all turns out to be a mistake, but I hope that the “we were silly” ending doesn’t tell kids not to worry in such situations.

They’ll learn better lessons from “Friendship Wrecked”, which conveys the seven steps to a perfect friendship, demonstrating how Betty and Veronica’s relationship fit the criteria. Another Betty story illustrated by Stan Goldberg plays with the visuals, showing us Betty’s awareness of how different people see her in different ways, from Daddy’s little girl to Archie’s “second fiddle”. Also in this digest are some Ginger, Sabrina, and Katy Keene stories.

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