Betty and Veronica who?
It takes quite a romance to make a love triangle that’s more than 70 years old seem irrelevant. But that’s precisely what happened when Archie and Josie and the Pussycats guitarist Valerie rocked each other’s world in 2010, making headlines as Archie Comics’ first interracial romance, ever. This was no bland nod to progress, either. Writer/artist Dan Parent made their courtship sweet, believable and, dare I say it, pretty hot. After years of being a card-carrying member of Team Betty, I’m all about this new direction.
Valerie and Archie parted ways when the Pussycats hit the road, but she’s back in town and the sparks resume flying. While Veronica hates from the sidelines, Betty faces reality. “I’m not sure he’s our Archie anymore.” But wait! There’s more. As Valerie’s family settles into their new Riverdale digs, we’re introduced to her cute brother Trev, whose presence sets off a nifty chain of events I sure didn’t see coming. Real surprises in an Archie book? Believe it.
Archie Comics seems to be genuinely invested in these two. In issue #633, we’ll see a possible future in which Valerie and Archie marry and have a daughter. But for now, Parent simply allows the two to pick up where they left off. Cartoon hearts abound, and the characters are so permanently snuggled on a park bench that Jughead quips, “I thought a new statue had gone up.” Valerie’s touring lifestyle could make for some good storylines as she and Archie deal with occasionally being apart. It will also be interesting to see how Trev’s character figures in future issues, especially in light of the aforementioned plot development.
As an illustrator, Parent has a style that’s simple, clean and classically “Archie.” I really appreciate the fact that Valerie isn’t a photocopy of Betty and Veronica, colored brown. Parent took the time to give her slightly different features and hair, and a style that’s a little bit edgier than theirs. He definitely has a way with character expressions. I’m thinking of one panel in particular where Valerie fixes Archie with the Icy Glare of Death after he talks about Betty too fondly. Digikore Studios provides bright, cheerful colors that pop.
Teenage romances aren’t known for their permanence, but some of Parent’s dialogue suggests that this one has legs. Archie #631 is a sugary good time.
— A version of this review appeared previously on Newsarama.com.