"The Fast Track To Success"
Writer: Mike Pellowski
Artists: Stan Goldberg (p), Bob Smith (i), Barry Grossman (colors)
Publisher: Archie Comics
Why is this story printed in an Archie (and not a Betty) issue? That was the question I was asking myself both while and after reading through this month’s installment of Archie Comics’ flagship character’s eponymous series. Despite minor niggles such as this, I enjoyed the story. The only reason I can come up with why this story is being published in Archie and not Betty is, well, because it doesn’t fall in the "aimed towards girls" category. (Girls are the main demographic which titles such as Betty, Veronica, Betty & Veronica and B&V Spectacular aim for.) This thought gains strength from a similar "sport" story (albeit a shorter one) that was published in Betty #162.
As to what this issue is all about, just take a gander at both the cover and the story title. Unlike Archie Comics' usual format of 3-4 stories per issue, this issue has only one long story with the breaks provided by splitting it into "parts." The first part kicks off with Archie and the gang hanging out at the Riverdale Speedway in order to root for the racing team owned by Veronica’s father, Hiram Lodge. With a new driver at the helm, team Lodge wins easily. However, just when the festivities are about to get underway, the driver informs Mr. Lodge that he won’t be racing under the Lodge banner anymore. Not only him but the entire pit crew bids adieu to team Lodge, all of them having been hired away by Lodge’s chief competitor, Charles Carlton Carp. That C.C.Carp has been winning the legendary Riverdale 500 (a race whose trophy is named after Hiram’s Great Grandfather Louis ‘Last Lap’ Lodge who also got the Speedway built) only adds salt to the wounds.
However, just when all appears to be over for team Lodge and its owner’s hopes of winning the coveted trophy, in steps an unlikely savior, Betty. As it turns out not only is our blonde beauty a budding car mechanic, she is also quite the Speedy Gonzales when it comes to the racetrack. Even though he is more than a little skeptical of the young woman’s claims (not to mention her utter lack of any actual competition racing experience), Hiram caves in not only to hiring Betty as the racer but to having Archie and the gang pitch in as the pit crew.
What follows next is the proverbial underdog ending in which the underdog (Betty, Archie and the others) pull off a win, helped in part by the foolish pride of their opponent, Dave Jones Lodge’s ex-driver.
The Archie universe (and its artwork) has always had a light, slightly retro look to it making for a throwback to times past. Not a big fan of the recently unveiled "modern" look, I for one am firmly in the corner of retaining the classic looks of the characters. The new one just doesn’t seem Archie to me, just another generic teen story, while the one here provided by penciller Stan Goldberg, inker Bob Smith and colorist Barry Grossman IS Archie.
Conclusion: Ideally aimed towards the younger crowd, I think even old farts, ahem, the more mature readers (like yours truly) will enjoy this full length story.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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