Veronica #204

A comic review article by: Penny Kenny
Veronica's quest to discover the identity of the new rich kid at Riverdale High continues in the conclusion to the "New Kids Off the Wall" storyline.

You have to admire Veronica's dogged determination this issue. When trying to lure the hidden heir or heiress out with ostentatious displays of wealth doesn't work and when her covert observation team fails to get the goods, Veronica starts snooping herself. These scenes are pure Veronica, showcasing her cleverness, snobbishness, and vanity. Yet it's done with a light touch. Alex Simmons keeps her likable. In some ways, Veronica is the modern equivalent of Jane Austen's Emma.

In general, Simmons does a good job of layering in necessary explanations into the dialog without bringing the story to a grinding halt. The way the issue of Cheryl Blossom, another rich girl, is handled is beautiful. When Veronica declares there can be only one super rich kid at Riverdale High, Betty naturally brings up Cheryl, who is summarily dismissed as nouveau riche and a former student of their school. This is a nice nod of acknowledgement for long time readers of the Archieverse who know the wealthy Cheryl as a thorn in Veronica's side. The way the scene is written, however, makes it easy for new readers to follow, as well as revealing something about Veronica's character. It's not there just to show how familiar Simmons is with Archie Comics' history. Later dialog where Betty reminds Veronica that fifty new kids have enrolled at Riverdale is slightly less successful in its exposition, but it still gives a casual reader necessary background in an almost natural way.

Although Archie has a nice scene with Veronica, it's the heiress's interaction with new boy Sayid that really sparkles. There's nothing romantic between them, but he definitely has her number and enjoys needling her. There's one scene where they look to be about an inch from kissing. Something about the way it's staged reminds me of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly's scenes in To Catch a Thief. In fact, Veronica and Sayid's scenes are so good when the real rich kid shows up it's something of a let down.

Dan Parent and the rest of the art team do their usual great job of creating an accessible, easy to follow visual story. There's never any confusion as to who is saying what or what's going on. The characters' expressions and body language add depth to the dialog. The last four pages of the book are especially well-done. Veronica goes from the heights of snobbishness to utter despair to a realization of what's really important and her face reveals her every thought. On a side note, I don't think I've ever seen Betty scowl as much as she does this issue, but it's always story appropriate.

"All That and a Bag of Chips" brings the "New Kids off the Wall" storyline to a gentle, open-ended conclusion. Simmons has brought an interesting new set of characters to life and left them in place for future storylines. Here's hoping they'll make frequent appearances.

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