Marvel’s mainstays aren’t the only ones reaching the #600-issue mark this year. Over at Archie Comics, the eponymous book joins the 600+ club. Not to be outdone by whatever Marvel is doing passing that hurdle (Is #600 really that big of a deal?), Archie himself is finally forced to make arguably the most difficult decision in all of comic books: Betty or Veronica. The book’s title Archie Marries Veronica: “The Proposal” might give it away.
This first of a six-part story explores the future of Archibald Andrews where he pops the question to Miss Veronica Lodge. So how does the eternal high schooler make the leap to marriage? Instead of taking a trip down Memory Lane, he goes up it. Of course, the road is diverged in a yellow wood (yep), so Archie takes one path and here we are. I must admit, I love this. Taking the phrase “a trip down memory lane” literally and then turning it around is inspired. Then tacking on Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is the most logical next step in Archie’s journey. The whole thing is so obvious that it’s brilliant.
The down side is because to this, the forthcoming events will likely be brushed off as a dream at the story’s end. This will make the supposed marriage as simply a big event to get the Archie name back out in the news. People know who Archie is and the choice between Betty and Veronica, but how many people actually read the book regularly? Probably not a lot. People may check this out just to see how Archie makes his decision and then stop again after the arc, if not after this issue. Maybe fan reaction will be favorable (the Veronica half at least) and it’ll stick, or maybe it’ll spin off to its own series.
While the proposal is the cover, the meat of the issue is Archie trying to figure out his future. What college? What after college? His family’s expectations and his friends moving on. Archie faces the natural problems in the transition to adulthood. It’s handled quite well. His uncertainty and his rush to find a path in life feel natural. Archie is supposed to be the everyman as a teen, and now he’s the everyman struggling to become a young adult.
Just be careful reading this. The pacing is fast and may cause whiplash. A lot is happening in this book, from concerts to parties to meaningful discussions and thoughtful introspectives. The plentiful dialog and thoughts may keep your speed in check, but there’s so much that it seems like you’re taking forever to read through everything that’s happening. I’m curious to see if the book will maintain this pacing throughout all six issues.
It’s a good issue, and I love the inventiveness, but I doubt the permanence of what happens here, which some may or may not like. It has the stink of “doing an event just to do an event” all over it, but at least Archie doesn’t abuse events like his superhero colleagues. It could use a slow down though. Of course, you can’t celebrate just a momentous occasion alone, so Archie gets some musical guest stars show up for a bit.
It’s average Archie art. The issue is drawn by longtime Archie artist Stan Goldberg, so if you’ve looked at an Archie book recently, it’s more of the same. Archie isn’t one of those titles that will have a very wide variety of different art styles like some superhero books do. It tends to try and stay consistently the same, and this is no exception.
This art is cluttered with word bubbles. Dialog and thought bubbles litter the pages so much that it’s almost intimidating. With its fast pace, the story has a lot of movement through the dialog and thoughts, so they’re all over the place. Not helping the case is the large text, bigger than in other comics.
Art inconsistencies are scattered about. Veronica’s midriff seems to appear and disappear, or perhaps she has a fancy shirt that grows a few inches longer. Faces are especially problematic, with some appearing too large, too wide, too plump and so on.
On the good side, the characters actually look a little older in the time jump. Archie himself seems a little broader and fills his clothes better. It’s so subtle that it could be one’s imagination. With this offsetting the cons, the art is pretty average. Average Archie art.
Archie’s marriage is probably the biggest thing to happen in Archie’s life since he met the Punisher. The vehicle to explore this is a neat idea. If you’re a Betty fan, check it out anyway. She’ll be a big character, and we still don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five issues.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10