Sometimes I get the feeling from Archie Comics like there is some kind of great big inside joke, and that the people behind the comics are all kind of laughing at us. Archie and his friends are after all an anachronism on numerous levels, both inside their stories and in popular culture. They live inside of a world which is a mix of the modern with something from around the 1950s, and they are the last-romance-comic-standing from a time in comics when romance was big. Despite all of that they find a way to be relevant and pertinent in a way that few of us would suspect.
This trade paperback featuring Betty and Veronica is an excellent example. It is nothing more than a loosely tied together compendium of all the relevant stories from over the years about the two girls going to the mall (though focusing more on Veronica than on Betty, due to her in-story riches.) While the volume might be labeled shopping spree, its name does not really relate to the stories inside. Instead the stories deal with a variety of issues, some of them humorous, but others serious enough. For instance, in one story Veronica sees a down-on-their-luck family that wants to buy a dress for their daughter’s birthday, but cannot due to the price. After some surreptitious work with the clerk, Veronica manages to get the dress for the girl after. Or in another, Betty uses saved-up babysitting money to go shopping, only to buy clothes for a down-on-her-luck friend, just as Veronica did. So in a compendium where one might expect a series of goofball adventures fighting over deals and the last designer purse, instead we get a sequence of stories, half of them full of the morality of being generous and sharing, instead of being greedily interested in brand names.
The end result is a pretty fun experience. Of course, those people that are irritated by the antics of the Riverdale gang are not going to enjoy this, but for those that look a little farther past the hijinks associated with this series, they will find a deeper message here. And perhaps the inside joke of the Archie Comics comes out in the end in a different way after all, as a morality tale about shopping, highlighting friendship and generosity, comes out the same week as Black Friday, when we are told by corporations to act the opposite of what we see here.
Story: Dan Parent, Frank Doyle, George Gladir, Angelo DeCesare, Craig Boldman, Joe Edwards, Kathleen Webb, Mike Pellowski, Barbara Slate, Greg Cosby Art: Dan Parent, Dan DeCarlo, Tim Kennedy, Pat Kennedy, Jeff Shultz, Doug Crane
Story: 8.6 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy
Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.