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Archie #606 [Review]

Yesterday Today Tomorrow / Career Weak / Unflappable

Scripts: Michael Uslan, Angelo Decesare, Craig Boldman
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inking: Bob Smith
Lettering: Jack Morelli
Coloring: Glenn Whitmore
Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito
Editor/Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick
Cover: Dan Parent
Published by: Archie Comics

Archie is one of those comics that seems to stick to a status quo far moreso than any other comics I can think of offhand–even more than super-heroes such as Superman or Batman, which can seem to at least take a year or two to deviate from status quo now and again.

I picked up Archie #600 not solely because of being a legitimate milestone (no reboots, restarts, disassemblings, etc en route), but because it was the first of a 6-issue story. Unlike the digests the publisher puts on regulalry, this wasn’t just some “theme” for a bunch of gag shorts and whatnot–it was six issues of full-issue-length ongoing story featuring the Archie mainstays. Archie of course, Betty, Veronica, their families, Jughead, Reggie, Moose, Midge, Pop Tate, Principal Weatherbee, and the other usuals. We’re familiar with them, we know who they are and what they’re about, and they can carry full-length stories.

This issue bills itself as an Epilogue, as a “Part 7,” whereas the Archie Marries Veronica/Archie Marries Betty/Will You Marry Me? story was for six issues billed as __ of 6. So rather than jump off as intended with #605, I picked this up, because I thoroughly enjoyed the 6-issue arc, I figured one more issue of follow-up couldn’t hurt.

Boy, was I wrong on that. This issue returns to the multiple stories per issue, with the stories more gag-oriented and predictable than being solid character-drivin stories.

The main feature is the follow-up to Will You Marry Me, as the guys give Archie a hard time for his notion of having seen a future where he married each of the girls, and sees him booking a date with each for the same night, and the fallout from that when the girls bump into each other on their way to meet up with Archie. The next short sees a bunch of gags as Archie supposedly embraces different potential careers, to the distress of his parents. Being a diver, or a painter, a mechanic, or a zoologist are all things that would be interesting to see Archie embrace–I’d gladly read a series of issues where each one sees the kid attempt to get into these career paths–but they have no real depth as given here with just a page or two per idea. And the final short sees Archie going ga-ga over a new girl, and tries to do everything he can to annoy Veronica so that she’ll break their date, freeing him to go with the new girl guilt-free.

The art isn’t bad in this issue–it’s “standard Archie,” the visual style we’re all used to for the various characters…no complaint there. It’s the lack of serious, deep story combined with a cover that led me to expect another issue like the previous six that makes this issue quite a stinker. If you’ve been following this title solely for the “big story,” there’s no need to get this issue–it adds NOTHING to the previous six issues. If you prefer your Archie with short gag-driven stories, though…this one’s for you, and you can freely ignore the huge “Part 7” displayed on the cover. As for me, I’ll wait for the next longform “special” arc.

Story: 3/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 4/10

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Archie #605 [Review]

Will You Marry Me? part 6 of 6 – Archie Marries Betty: “Happily Ever After”

Script: Michael Uslan
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inks: Bob Smith
Letters: Jack Morelli
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Managing Editor: Mike Pellerito
Editor/Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics

I bought into the hype from two angles. One…it was Archie #600…and the title had gotten there legitimately. No reboots or restarts and funky number-playing across multiple series that were intentionally made distinct for the purposes of renumbering, mistake or otherwise. Two…it was the story of Archie FINALLY choosing one of the girls, and doing the right thing by her. He was choosing Veronica, for better or worse (I’ve always rooted for Betty). So imagine my surprise when the story swerved at the end of Chapter 3, showing that instead of 6 issues of Archie marrying/being married to Veronica, we were actually getting two 3-parters under the banner of “__ of 6.”

Also of note is the title of the story. I’d initially thought it was “Archie Marries Veronica” based on the cover; but as said above, obviously that changed halfway through. This issue states on the cover “Archie Marries Betty” and the chapter title, as well as the “Part 6 of 6.” Inside the issue, however, we find an ad for the graphic novel Archie in “Will You Marry Me?” billed as “The complete 6-issue story arc!” at the top of the page. There’s also the fact of that ad existing–here, in the final issue of the story, the company is trying to get the reader to order the collected volume of the story they’re holding. Sure, I expected this–I bought these single issues despite knowing full well there’d be a collected edition–I had to wait for that edition on the recent Freshman Year arc, and if they collected that I knew they’d collect this. Still…the Archie books being what they are, chances are that many people buy just a random issue here and there, and so would not have all 6 chapters.

“Gripey” as that may sound, it’s not much of a gripe. This is a decent conclusion to a decent story. Why it’s not “great” is that it’s something that can’t truly matter long-term in the Archie comics without radically altering the status quo and the nature of the series. This puts me in mind of the silver-age Superman stories focusing on one of many alternate Earths; such as the one with the “Super Sons” or any where Superman actually married Lois. So, this is an “imaginary story” within the Archie universe. And as has been said of these “imaginary stories”… “Aren’t they all?”

Archie and Betty have returned to Riverdale after their year away…both to teach at the high school. They reunite with old friends, and discover a number of other changes. Jughead and Midge are married (and Jughead bought Pop’s as Pop was retiring); Moose is calm and mature…and Reggie and Veronica just got engaged. The story follows the young couple dealing with these events, and then the birth of their twins, Veronica and Reggie’s wedding, as well as life afterward–dealing with “grown-up stuff” in the form of juggling work, the kids, and some sort of social life. And then the story ends on the reverse note the 6-parter opened with…perfectly fitting.

The story is fairly simplistic and formulaic, of course. There’s some drama, but nothing that’s really drawn-out (if it were, I could imagine this one issue getting stretched to 6 issues itself!). There’s a lot of character stuff and forward momentum, and even time for that ending. While hardly complex–and certainly not apologetic about the means by which the story was achieved and then left behind–I really don’t feel cheated nor let down. Heck, this story is one that would make a great tv mini-series of sorts…basically do a pair of movies that make the one big movie. One movie for each of the girls as the bride of Archie. It’d be great if the story was “timeless,” but there are some elements thrown in that date the story–including a reference to “stimulus money,” which firmly roots this in the present. Aside from those references, though, the story is fairly timeless, not actually giving any hard dates for things…just a walk on Memory Lane.

The art is standard Archie style; none of the “New Look” stuff (good as those stories are). The only real complaint I have with the art is the cover–something about Archie’s proportions seems “off” a bit, and overall, he doesn’t look quite right, and I’m not sure why.

I don’t recommend specifically seeking this issue out if you haven’t either been following since #600, or #603. However, if you’re at all a fan of Archie, Betty, and/or Veronica…I highly recommend considering the graphic novel.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

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