I have always been a Betty person. Every Archie story I have ever enjoyed has me cheering for them to finally get together and leave Veronica pouting. My long standing wish has been partially granted in the past few years with the newest incarnation of these beloved characters. And I am totally and completely hooked.
The drama all started when the new CEO of Archie came into the 70 plus year old company and wanted to shake the universe up. This desire led to a six part storyline wherein Archie took a walk one night down Memory Lane in Riverdale and saw visions of two different futures. In one, he wed Veronica, in the other, Betty.
Fans lapped up this idea en masse, and Archie launched a new magazine to continue the saga. Life With Archie: The Married Life premiered just over a year ago and in the first half of each issue the Veronica storyline is told, while in the second half the Betty journey is explored. This new magazine take place between parts two and three of the original series, before the babies came along.
To say this is a riveting reinvention and realization of the Archie mythos is an understatement. In each reality our favourite perpetual teenagers are now adults who have to find love, keep love, pay bills, get jobs, keep jobs, discover who they really are, and survive the wrath of Mr. Lodge. You will be shocked and surprised to discover the possible destinies of the Riverdale gang. Some of the ideas played with include couples breaking up, someone running for public office, another going on trial, a fortune being made, an old friend located, several weddings occur, and a death torments everyone. Whew! And that is only in the first year of this fascinating series.
Mixed amidst all this excitement and turmoil is the constant thread of friendship Archie and his gang still treasure and cherish. Even if arguments happen, the true life long love they have for each other wins out. Throughout the series, get togethers and reunions are featured prominently, and talking their individual problems out with each other is the norm here. And I find this story element quite touching and natural.
Propelling the dramatic thrust throughout all this is the evil (?), rich, and manipulate Mr. Lodge. But is his erratic driven behavior the result of some secret plan masterminded by the now mysterious Dilton Doiley? A scheme that harkens back to the original Memory Lane story that our hero Archie experienced? The tension is building with a conclusion promised soon to this development.
Dilton’s involvement highlights the destiny versus chance theme Archie The Married Life plays with quite effectively. Each reality has similarities, constants, which reinforce the notion of an idea being meant to happen. The recent Kevin Keller wedding story illustrates this perfectly, with the backstory of the meeting with his future husband being the same in each universe. It was meant to be this way. You will get a kick out of noticing fate converging in both timelines. I may need a scorecard soon to keep up. Is their an App for that?
All this greatness is brought to us by veteran comics scribe Paul Kupperberg, whom, with the artist on the first year, Norm Breyfogle, make each issue flow and sing. Page by page, thought by thought, these two created an entirely new world for Archie and Riverdale, with the new artists continuing and enhancing this wonderful experience. This success allowed Archie Comics to re-imagine another classic character which I would be remiss for not mentioning. Li’l Jinx is now a teenager called, well, Jinx, and she is simply wonderful. Previews of Jinx was featured in three issues of Life With Archie and the new series is now only available digitally. My Luddite ways must stop so I can catch up with her adventures and misadventures.
You can start dipping into the lives of Archie and his friends at your local comic shop (mine is Excalibur Comics, plug, plug) and you will not be disappointed. My anticipation of each new issue puts it on the top of my reading stack. Where it rightly belongs. Because, as the old saying goes:
People will change. People will not change. And the Archie Universes will never be the same.
And I am still a Betty person.
P.S. All characters and covers are copyright 2012 to Archie Comics.