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Betty & Veronica (Archie Comics, 2016; #1-3)

Betty and Veronica.jpeg

When a national coffee chain called Kweekwegs buys Pop’s, Betty Cooper leads the charge to raise the $60,000 necessary to keep the diner’s doors open.  She rallies all of her friends to her cause—except Veronica, whose father owns Kweekwegs and who is behind the buyout.  Now Betty and Veronica are headed for a showdown on Halloween—Riverdale High’s Harvest Dance and Pop’s deadline.

While I’m used to seeing and enjoying Adam Hughes’s art*, Betty & Veronica is the first time I’ve read his writing.  And it’s good.  He fills the whole mini-series with humor and wit—from Hot Dog’s professorial narration to Pop’s scorn for clowns to easy-to-miss moments.  My favorite example of that kind of blink-and-you-miss-it humor in the first issue comes in an exchange where Archie gets cut off while calling Jughead, “wimpy,” for his whining and making Betty carry his bag and, in the interruption, unintentionally evokes another famous lover of burgers.

Of course, Hughes is a fantastic artist, and this book is absolutely beautiful.  Every character has physicality, motion, and expression.  And, by and large, he avoids the cheesecake that some fans expect from him.  The only exception is a page of meta-narrative that calls out the people who bought Betty & Veronica expecting gratuitous cheesecake.  José Villarrubia’s muted, low-contrast colors are a departure from a lot of the more recent Archie Comics titles, but they’re fitting for the story’s fall setting and help to keep Betty and Veronica’s over-the-top feud from feeling cartoonish.

Betty & Veronica is a high-water mark for Archie Comics’s updated line of books.  It is laugh-out-loud funny, its art is stunning, and its resolution is satisfying.  If you’re looking for a taste of what the publisher’s efforts to release a more contemporary take on its comics without the angst of Riverdale**, this is the best possible place to start.

* His poster of John Hodgman standing among the cairns greets me every morning when I emerge from my bedroom and welcomes me back to sleep’s sweet embrace when I retire again in the evening.

** That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with Riverdale; I love that bonkers show, in fact.

Collected in

  • Betty & Veronica (#1-3, Jughead #12)

Credits

Writer: Adam Hughes | Artist: Adam Hughes | Colorist: José Villarrubia | Letterer: Jack Morelli | Graphic Designer: Kari McLaughlan | Assistant Editor: Jamie Lee Rotante | Associate Editor: Stephen Oswald | Editor: Mike Pellerito

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