Archie Comics is releasing a new series building out their universe with three titles and this week it includes the famed female flings of Archie. The creative team behind it is something else, but is it good?
Betty and Veronica #1 (Archie Comics)
So what’s it about? The official Archie synopsis reads:
IT’S BETTY VS. VERONICA! The most highly-anticipated debut in comics history is here! Betty and Veronica are America’s sweethearts… until they turn on each other! “Pops’ Chocklit Shoppe is being taken over by a huge coffee company. When Betty and Veronica go head-to-head over the issue, all bets are off! Friendships will shatter. Cities will burn. Nails will be broken. Betty and Veronica are back in this ALL-NEW #1 from comics legend Adam Hughes (Wonder Woman, Catwoman)!
You can check out all the variant covers of this book over on our official preview.
Why does this book matter?
With art and writing by Adam Hughes you know you’re going to be in for one of those Woody Allen-like experiences where his voice is incredibly clear. If you’re at all interested in high school drama this is a must read of 2016.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A perfectly reasonable conversation.
There are quite a few things Hughes does well with this issue and the biggest win is the dialogue. Good thing too, because there is a lot of it in this issue. The characters speak in such a way that I often wondered if I was peering in on real teenager banter. Whether or not this is how kids talk is beyond me, but it certainly sounds fluid and realistic. Throughout the issue the characters use fun nicknames, silly voices, and slang which makes the dialogue read in a fun and modern way.
We open on Jughead and Archie discussing who would win in a fight, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. It’s the nonsensical sort of conversation we’ve all heard when we were younger, but it’s also fun to see what sort of explanations they have for the winner of the multiple duels they suggest. It’s also a fitting conversation considering what this comic book is about: Betty vs. Veronica!
It also opens and closes (with a check in or two too) with Jughead’s dog Hot Dog which surprisingly works. It gives the read a fun and somewhat lighter feel right off the bat which helps even out the realistic sounding dialogue. This dog explains what’s going on by breaking the fourth wall in more ways than one, which allows for a bit of cheeky commentary.
The best element of the book–and what people will be talking about most I’m sure–is the art. Set during the fall, the crisp leaves are nearly constantly falling from the trees giving the story a whimsical feel, and Hughes does an exceptional job rendering the surroundings of the characters. There are quite a few ways he tells the story via layouts, mixing things up and keeping us on our toes (and, at one point, the characters off them!). This is the type of art you can easily linger on a single panel for much longer than needed just soaking in the detail. Case in point, Veronica is reaching up on a window sill to speak to her Mee-Maw and by doing so we can see the muscularity of her legs. In the same panel we see the other characters reacting to her conversation and of course a few leaves floating in the wind too.
Hughes’ customary photorealistic faces are on full display, which gives this a very TV show feel. Every shout, scream, and concerned face is quite something and it’s the sort of thing you need to take in slowly to truly appreciate.
How is she so strong?
The colors by José Villarrubia do a lot for the art, giving it a flashback sort of feel that’s somewhat whimsical. Maybe it’s because fall is my favorite season, but damn do these leaves look good. There’s a bit of warmth in the cheeks of the characters, which helps imbue a sense of chill just right or the time this story takes place.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Ultimately there’s a lot said in this issue, but not a lot happens. While the dialogue is good, there isn’t quite enough going on to keep your interest up throughout the issue. More than once I wished the story would get on with it, but maybe that’s not the point at all with a comic book like this. We’re getting a slice of teenager life after all. That being said, when you finish this issue you’ll realize not a lot happened.
Is It Good?
If you ever wanted to read a comic that made you feel like you were a fly on the wall of a group of teenagers this is for you. The dialogue is natural, interesting, and most importantly great at revealing character. The art is fantastic too, nailing every emotion on these bright characters.