Life with Archie: The Married Life #4

A comic review article by: Penny Kenny
In Archie Loves Veronica Archie's business trip to Las Vegas leads him to a possible solution to Pop Tate's troubles, Moose's campaign for mayor continues with a few hiccups, Veronica makes a decision, and Betty makes a new friend. Meanwhile over in the Archie Loves Betty segment of the magazine, Betty loses her job, Archie and Ambrose encounter difficulties in opening their club, a depressed Veronica tries to find love,and Midge questions her decision to marry Jughead.

Though writer Paul Kupperberg is departing in some aspects from the original Will You Marry Me? mini-series' timeline and characterization, this is still a fascinating storyline. For the most part, Kupperberg has matured the characters, while still keeping their core personalities intact. For instance, Archie is still impulsive and clumsy, two traits that work to his favor in making the new business contact in Las Vegas. Veronica's very much the haughty princess who is still treating Archie as her inferior, not her equal. That, as much as Mr. Lodge's machinations, is the cause of her marriage problems. In both stories, Betty's open, friendly nature, even in the face of disappointment, leads her to new opportunities.

This issue, some of the best character moments go to the supporting cast. Kupperberg is really working with Reggie to move him past his practical joker past. In the Archie Loves Veronica section, his attempts to comfort Veronica and his questioning of his motives come across as believable. In the Betty section, he's the "Golden Boy" who peaked in high school and can't quite accept that fact. He's looking for something, anything, to make him feel like he's valuable. That too is a reasonable outgrowth of his high school character.

Midge and Jughead in the Betty story have my favorite moment of the entire issue. After a talk with Ms. Grundy and Mrs. Beazly about love and the responsibilities of marriage, Midge questions if she's made the right decision. Her scene with Jughead and his response is absolutely perfect. It's totally in keeping with his character and is light and moving at the same time.

Kupperberg injects a lot of emotion into the story without getting overwrought. The Midge and Jughead, Moose and his new girlfriend Ilana, and Chuck and Nancy scenes show couples supporting one another and trying to protect and help one another without going overboard on the emotional dialog. Any scene with Archie and Betty shows a young couple very much in love.

Going back to Mr. Lodge, I'm still not sure why Kupperberg felt he had to make the financier a villain. As I said, Veronica's unconscious attitude toward Archie causes just as many problems as her father's heavy-handed, strongarm tactics. Of course, over in the Archie Loves Betty, Mr. Lodge is even worse. Again, for no necessary story purpose. People lose their jobs all the time and run into difficulties opening their own businesses. The storyline really didn't need Mr. Lodge orchestrating all this in the background.

My complaints about Mr. Lodge's characterization aside, the stories are good. Kupperberg juggles the large cast expertly. All the storylines are moving at about the right pace. There are a few happy coincidences, but those do happen and Kupperberg doesn't abuse the concept. The dialogue comes across as fairly realistic, filling readers in on what's happened before, showing character, and pushing the story forward.

I like Norm Breyfogle's art here more than I did in the Archie: Goodbye Forever storyline. It's not quite as stylized as in that previous work. The characters look cartoonish, but they also look like young adults. Inkers Joe Rubinstein and Andrew Pepoy keep things looking consistent between the two stories. Glenn Whitmore uses a very subdued palate for the Veronica storyline and a brighter one for the Betty one. It's a interesting way to define the difference between the two storylines.

Also included in the magazine are a double-sided poster reprinting two beautiful Dan Parent covers, a two page feature highlighting young celebrities and the charities they support, a humorous selection of New Year's wishes from the Archie gang, and a section listing Archie Comics' 2010 projects. This latter is a handy puff piece for those of us keeping track of all the new things Archie has tried this past year--and they've done a lot.

Life with Archie: The Married Life #4 is an attractive, entertaining package. It's the perfect read for those holiday car trips and also makes a nice conversation starter for the younger and older generations.

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