Rating: 3.5/5 – An Underwhelming Celebration for these Iconic Characters
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.
Even as Archie Comics prepares to reboot its flagship title Archie after 666 issues, it commemorates Betty and Veronica’s “milestone 275th issue” this month with the promise of a “double-sized issue featuring plenty of bonus content and multiple collector covers.” I was very excited for this even amongst a myriad of new Archie releases because I love these two girls. Indeed, it lived up to part of that promise with beautiful covers from such giants as Ramona Fradon and Adam Hughes. The issue was also thick, with two stories featuring these frenemies getting into all sorts of hijinks over school, boys, and doppelgangers–you know, the usual.
The main story written by Michael Uslan and illustrated by Dan Parent is a continuation of the current story arc, which finds our titular characters overseas as part of a foreign exchange student program. They’re currently running an “experiment” that was cooked up last issue and we see the results play out. We also see the boys and girls back in Riverdale deal with the new students in town, which at first appear to be foreign versions of Betty and Veronica. Not content to be pigeonholed, though, these two new beauties surprise everyone. Overall, I felt this part of the story arc wasn’t the strongest. It didn’t have the charm, humor, and real surprises that I found in previous chapters and it lacked the witty dialogue and comical moments that have underscored this story arc thus far. The ending was meant to be a cliffhanger, but the dialogue was a bit muddy and it felt largely unimportant.
What I think is the real gem of this issue is the backup story. Written by Fernando Ruiz, we follow Betty and Veronica as they take a trip down Memory Lane. Like so many of their friends before them, they quickly discover that this inconspicuous Riverdale street is quite extraordinary. If you’ve spent any amount of time reading Archie Comics, then you’ll have an idea of what happens to them. I know Ruiz primarily for his artwork on Archie Comics, but if he’s not doing so already, he needs to be writing more stories. Jeff Shultz tackles art duties and his timeless style definitely adds to this particular story. His rendering of classic Betty, Veronica, and Archie could easily feel at home in an Archie comic published 60 years ago.
Where my expectations were a bit let down were in the “commemorating” and “featuring plenty of bonus content” part of the issue. Rounding out the issue were a short essay by HitFix.com Managing Editor Donna Dickens and a couple pin-ups by the legendary Dan DeCarlo. They were nice additions, but I would have loved to see more of this type of material. It seemed like an underwhelming way to celebrate these two icons that have been part of the most famous love triangle in pop culture history.
The current storyline running through Betty and Veronica examines these two bombshells to discover what exactly makes a “Betty” and what makes a “Veronica.” The backup story this issue also looks to the past to see how Betty and Veronica have changed over the years and how very much they’ve remained the same. These themes are a perfect fit for an issue that commemorates their long running series. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like it was enough given the nearly 75 year history of these characters and I was hoping for a more robust celebration. That being said, there are plenty of other milestone numbers yet to be reached and if it takes another 275 issues to throw them a proper party, I’ll be there to join in the festivity.
Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
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