Betty Cooper is in a wheelchair after a car accident. Her father holds Archie responsible and has forbid her from seeing him which is driving the guy crazy. This is beginning to drive a wedge between Archie and Veronica. Meanwhile, everyone hates Reggie, but not just because he’s a jerk. Riverdale blames him for Betty’s current situation.
I didn’t really “get” Archie until this series. Up until the publisher relaunched its flagship title, the only real reference I’d make was to the struggle to choose between Betty and Veronica when faced with a difficult decision. Archie #25 shows how this is a tough call. Mr. Andrews is currently in a relationship with Veronica, but Betty has been his best friend forever. He wants nothing more than to comfort her in her time of need and he’s unable to do so. He laments to Veronica who is starting to get tired of her boyfriend talking non-stop about another woman.
This dramatic scene is peppered with gags about Archie’s clumsiness, brilliantly illustrated by artist Audrey Mok. The panels alternate between stoic looks of contemplation and outright hilarity. You’ve got a shot of Veronica thinking about who her boyfriend loves more and then there’s another of Archie holding a mangled golf club. The recurring joke of Archie’s epic screw-ups with the caption “HOW?” will never get old. They require no further explanation other than the fact that Archie was somehow involved.
As with the rest of the town, Betty holds a special place in Jughead’s heart. This is only a little surprising as Forsythe Pendleton Jones III is not known for any other emotion aside from hunger. Wait, that’s not an emotion, is it? There’s a really touching flashback to Hot Dog getting hit by a car and how Betty helped Jughead deal with the pain. It reinforces just how sweet of a person she is that she can even get through to Jughead. There is not a mean bone in her body.
This scene is given a lighter shade by colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick, as if you’re pulling this memory from the recesses of your mind. The images are like old photographs in his regard. This is contrasted to the otherwise vibrant world of present day Riverdale that’s full of life, despite the dire straights its favorite daughter is in.
Archie #25 gave me a newfound respect for Jughead. I’ve always had a soft spot for him due to our mutual love of cheeseburgers, but this issue shows not just how smart the character is, but how far he’s willing to go for his friends Archie and Betty mean a lot to him so he’s going to pull out all the stops to make them happy. He drops some knowledge on Betty’s parents that ends in a perfect, wordless sequence of panels that say so much.
Jughead puts a plan together that will eventually see Betty and Archie reunited. It builds to such a pitch perfect emotional moment that can bring a tear to your eye. Of course, this is quickly turned into more drama that I cannot wait to see unfold. I think it’s clearly a case of misunderstanding, but that’s not how teenage angst works out, nor will it do so quickly.
Writer Mark Waid is spinning many plates with Archie, keeping a variety of plot threads moving. Each is given enough time and space to grow and further the overall story, while maintaining the high level of quality and humor that has come to define the title. It is a consistently great comic and this issue is no different. If you are not reading Archie, you are missing out.