Who should Archie Andrews marry – Betty Cooper or Veronica Lodge? For readers who’ve grown tired of Archie’s indecisiveness, Archie: The Married Life #1 could sound like a nightmare – a comic that doesn’t decide but shows you both options, in the spirit of its leading man. The first half of the issue is Archie married to Veronica, the second half is him married to Betty, but here’s why this works. In fact, it’s a cracking first issue, and if I’d read the original Archie: The Married Life series (this one is a tenth anniversary miniseries that checks in on the newlyweds, ten years later), maybe I’d have been prepared for how wonderfully writer, Michael Uslan, handles alternate timelines.
Regardless of whether Archie is married to Betty or Veronica, the wishy washy-ness is gone. Both realities show Archie making his choice and sticking to it, and while you see Betty or Veronica upset, when they first hear the news, they’re not still pining over him when this story picks up.
Instead, what you get to see is how marriage influences other choices, and how the goals and priorities you have in life change when you’re making them with a partner. In seeing two possible outcomes for Archie’s life, it’s not that one is ostensibly better than the other but that they’re different, and different in terms of big picture, not the superficial stuff.
With Veronica, Archie has a stable job working for her father but barely any time to spend with his family. With Betty, he’s trying to follow his dreams as a musician, but at the price of not having a stable income. Betty and Veronica aren’t just arm candy either – their lives look different depending on whether they marry Archie, too. Veronica wants to join the workforce, and Betty’s her family’s primary provider.
They’re adults, and not just in the sense that they’ve gotten older but still act like teenagers. Letterer, Jack Morelli, has to make sure they whisper at night, so they don’t wake the kids. The Riverdale crew has grown-up and that’s the other great part about this series – it’s not exclusively focused on Archie and his chosen spouse. All of their friends from Riverdale (and one, in Little Ambrose, who could’ve stayed in Little Archie) are back, and while their lives aren’t completely altered by who Archie marries, there are small changes in how their lives turned out.
Visually, though, outside of what they’re wearing (Lodge Archie wears suits, Cooper Archie wears jeans), artist, Dan Parent (with inks by J. Bone), keeps the characters looking relatively the same across both halves of the issue. Thus avoiding accusations of bias, it’s also a way of remembering competition isn’t the point. The love triangle is over and without it, Archie: The Married Life can finally move on and explore storylines that the ‘will they or won’t they’ got in the way of before. Glenn Whitmore’s colors are warm and toasty because that’s how it feels to be in Riverdale with these characters. That’s the same no matter who Archie’s in love with at the time.
Archie: The Married Life #1 goes on sale August 7th from Archie Comics.