Sir Jon Reviews – Betty and Veronica #1-3
Icons come in many forms, more so when it comes to comic books. The basic imagery of the chest symbols of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are easily recognizable across nations, as are color schemes and costumes. Some icons are known more regionally and some become forgotten over time. When it comes to the characters of Archie Comics, iconic imagery stands at a level all its own.
The past few years have been good to Archie, with direct market sales well beyond their usual levels, critically acclaimed series, experimental stories, and an influx of known and new creators injecting excitement into the entire line of titles. They’ve had their share of gaffes, which have certainly made for interesting headlines and keeping the name of the company in the eyes of the uninitiated. There has otherwise been quite a bit of excitement at a venerable outfit, including the focus of this review, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge.
Much has been said of the ever waffling Archie Andrews and his indecision when it came to the female of the species. The age-old fanboy argument of Betty or Veronica is just as ridiculously geek-oriented as is whether or not the Hulk is stronger than Superman. It’s probably a much more fun argument (and even more interesting once you add Cheryl Blossom) than most of the others, but readers will find themselves rethinking the whole thing with the recent Betty and Veronica issues by popular artist Adam Hughes.
Adam Hughes is known for many series, characters and companies across the spectrum of comic books. His images of female characters are particularly popular, and he’s been on more than one series in which a female character is the lead. Having him both write and draw the best known female leads at Riverdale High was certainly an inspired idea, one that fans, creators and retailers alike were anticipating.
Adam Hughes being, well, Adam Hughes, publication of the three issues of Betty and Veronica was irregular. Patience persevered as Hughes delivered three gorgeous issues of fun that is much more than Betty vs. Veronica for Archie’s affections. Taking a very trite and overused plot device – Pop’s Choklit Shoppe is closing and needs to be saved –- Hughes is able to bend the horribly aged idea to suit his strengths, forging a very good tale that is nothing more than a love letter to everything Archie.
Hughes does this by working his minimal story to his and the readers’ benefit, putting all his artistic ability behind the thin sheen of it. Panel layout is fun and exciting, character design, while obviously not going to make them unrecognizable, is likewise fun. In some cases, the art is daring and sexy, in a chaste way, as these comics have been for years. It’s Adam Hughes doing what he does best and you won’t be sorry. And if, some day, you notice that his Jughead Jones looks slightly similar to a guy named Gaiman, you didn’t hear it here.
There will be no details of the story here; no spoilers for the lazy. The first issue feels as though it’s more of a “Tales from Riverdale”, with almost all major teen characters making an appearance, not just Betty and Veronica. As the first issue ends and the second begins, more of the Betty and Veronica combination encompasses the reader, with even more at the conclusion of the story in issue three. Archie, Jughead, Moose, Midge and even Reggie flow through the three issues, pushing the story forward without interfering in what concludes as a very heartfelt, well-written exaltation as to the makeup of the Betty and Veronica friendship.
On the six-pack scale, these three issues get the full six. You’ll be sucked into the art and love the story while it’s happening.
Betty and Veronica #1-3 are available now from Archie Comics. A collection of these three issues is planned for November. Look for it.