The End of the Archie Marriage Storyline
Archie #605 completes the Archie marriage storyline that began in Archie #600. For 3 issues, we read the imaginary story of how Archie and Veronica got married and had twins. Then, it was Betty’s turn.
This last issue of the story gives Betty and Archie twins (just like Archie and Veronica had) and catches up with many of their Riverdale friends, as they also move on with their adult lives. As you might expect, given the relatively short three-issue story length, the events are pretty rushed. After all, getting engaged, holding a wedding, finding a career, and starting a family are significant events with huge emotional impact. But exploring realistic feelings isn’t the point — instead, this story plays “what if?” with many favorite fictional friends. It’s a shared imagination game among the readers and the creators.
Given that we have seen much of this story before, only with the other girl, I appreciated the way that this issue gave plenty of attention to other characters. That’s where the true surprises came. For instance (and given that this is revealed on page one, I don’t consider it a spoiler), Jughead marries Midge. That’s a clever pairing that makes a lot of sense, once you consider the personalities.
There are still some missteps in the storytelling — I understand that writer Michael Uslan wants to put in some classic Archie slapstick, but having Archie and Betty spend two pages trying to hide Jughead and Midge from Moose is idiotic. It assumes a lack of faith in their friends being able to manage their own romantic lives and an insulting view of Moose that goes beyond any of his angry rages of the past. The way he’s moved on is hit a bit too hard, but it’s a refreshing take on the former dumb jock.
Since there’s not much space to explore reactions, I found Betty getting jealous of Veronica once again another false note. It’s too abrupt and not in keeping with the idea of the series that we’d see how Archie and his girlfriends get happy endings. At least it’s patched over quickly. I did get a kick out of the idea that teacher Betty, as homework, would assign the class to “research Andy Hardy and his influence on pop culture”. It doesn’t make any sense and is a reference that most readers won’t get, but he is one of Archie’s forebears.
Even Veronica gets a sort of happy ending — although there are notes that she’s settling because she missed out on Archie, instead of finding her own way — and everyone makes a cameo with hints of how they’re all pairing off and moving on. It’s not exactly a story, more a collection of “and X should be with Y” mentions, but as I said, that’s the intention. It’s as though, instead of telling us a story, someone was telling us an outline for a longer piece. The art, by Stan Goldberg and Bob Smith, is similarly comfortable in evoking the familiar.
Archie #606 provides an unexpected epilogue with the message “the future’s up to us, let’s live in the present”. I think that somewhat undercuts the importance of the previous six issues, but they were just a successful sales stunt anyway. It makes sense that the publisher would want to put attention back on the ongoing stories of the younger characters, since that’s their bread and butter.
Once again, the equilibrium is restored — Archie appreciates Betty’s girl-next-door qualities and skills, and he provides emotional support to Veronica, and he winds up having a date with each on the same night. Such is his life. Nothing surprising, just the hijinks we expect. Archie has at least learned one thing by heart: he can now recite Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” with great passion.
The rest of the issue contains two more stories, one in which Archie does wacky things because it’s career week, and whichever profession he’s just heard about is what he wants to be. The other shows Archie trying to annoy Veronica so she’ll break their date so he can go out with a new girl. Only she’s on to him and won’t let him off the hook. I don’t think we’re supposed to think too hard about what kind of guy would make a new date when he’s already got one with his steady.
Out this month is the book collection of Archie #600-605, plus the epilogue from #606, in case you’d like to read them all at once.