Sunday, November 8, 2015

BETTY & VERONICA #278: Saying Goodbye For Now!!

I'm two or three weeks late when it comes to writing about BETTY & VERONICA #278. Part of this is related to fatigue. I'm exhausted most of the time these days. And part of this is due to sadness because this is the final issue of this comic book! Supposedly, this isn't for long. Someday in the unspecified future, Archie Comics will be publishing a new BETTY & VERONICA series featuring stories and art by Adam Hughes. In the meantime, the book is going away.

I have been actively reading Archie Comics comic books as an adult for the past five years (more or less). During that time, I've never felt like the publisher knew what to do with the book. They published Disney-inspired fairy princess stories for more than a year. They then had a series of bland one-off stories, before moving into the "Farewell Riverdale" story line, which was interesting but dragged on for way too long in the beginning.

The problem with this book is that it always seems to be playing down to younger readers. I wonder if BETTY & VERONICA would have been more successful in recent years -- or at least be better received by Archie Comics fans -- if its creators were less careful with the stories and more over-the-top with the humor?

I've mentioned my love of UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL. I've also shared my love of the "Reversedale" story in ARCHIE. Either of those examples are certainly suitable for young readers. But they are also sharp and dynamic and snappy with the humor and visual gags. Why couldn't we get some of that spirit with BETTY & VERONICA?

Anyway, BETTY & VERONICA #278 leads with the revelation that Riverdale High School will be getting a new gym. This leads to a series of precious memory moments between the girls -- most of which have to do with Archie and his propensity for taking both of them to school dances! The girls remember that the Halloween Masquerade Ball will be happening soon and this will be their last dance in the old gym!

How better to close out this era? Both girls agree to ask Archie to the dance and then make him squirm!!

Archie takes the bait and then immediately regrets it! He comes up with an elaborate scheme that will allow him to date both girls without them knowing about each other. Of course, both Betty and Veronica know what's going on so they keep sabotaging his efforts to painlessly date both of them.

After toying around with the philandering red-head, the girls finally reveal their game and put Archie out of his misery. We realize that this date isn't about the dance or frustration over Archie's date-juggling. This evening -- this comic book -- is about friendship. The gym may change. The comic book and the creative team might change. But this is all about Betty, Veronica, and their best friendship adventures!

Before I head out, I wanted to point out two extras that really got me excited about BETTY & VERONICA #278:

1. Wear Can I Get That Mask??: Archie found this wonderful reversible mask for the dance. One side -- for his Betty date -- featured the image of Cosmo the Merry Martian and the reverse side -- for his Veronica date -- featuring Super Duck! I love it and I want it so bad!!

2. Devon Who?: Kevin Keller has the reputation for being a goody-goody. But you really don't ever want to get on his bad side. He asked some guy named Ted to the Halloween Masquerade Ball. Look at Kevin's face when Veronica asks about Devon! I really want to read the story that inspired that cold reply!!

Meanwhile, check out Kevin Keller's costume for the dance! He wants to be an angel, but he's always attracted to the dark side!! Check this out:

"Last Dance" was written and penciled by Dan Parent, inked by Bob Smith, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Glenn Whitmore.

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