Wedding Bells and Register Tolls for Archie


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Archie is giving us a promotional stunt worthy of the big two. It isn’t any more permanent than other recent news making events, but is getting as much attention.

If you go into a comic book store looking for any of the titles that Archie Comics publishes, you’ll find them, if they carry them at all, segregated with the kids books. You won’t find Archie between Amazing Spider-Man and Astro City or Jughead between Jack of Fables and Justice League of America. If you ask for Archie back issues, you’d probably be directed to the fifty-cent bins or greeted with a shrug.

Archie Comics titles don’t get a lot of respect from the direct market. That’s okay, it still gets a lot of attention from the newsstand distribution, where up to a quarter of shelf space is taken by Archie Comics titles and where Archie Digests can be found on many supermarket checkout lines.

But there is an event on the horizon that might cause comic shops to stock up on issues of Archie. It is an event that puts Archie on the level, at least for a little bit, with books put out by Marvel and DC.  It’s an event that has received mainstream news coverage all over the world. I am talking about Archie Andrews’ wedding to Veronica Lodge, which storyline kicks off this week in Archie #600.  

Of course this would be big news in the mainstream. Archie, with all apologies to Dick Clark, is the world’s only eternal teenager. He has been attending Riverdale High for almost 68 years. Sure, he has gone from listening to records on a phonograph to listening to MP3s on his iPod, but he has remained a teen throughout those seven decades.

And throughout that time, Archie has been the rope in a tug of war between Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper, two girls who have been constantly fighting a battle for Archie’s affection. They fall into many different opposing archetypes—sophisticated vs. girl next door, brunette vs. blond, rich vs. modest means, spoiled vs. generous. This triangle has become part of Americana. People usually try to find out a man’s personality by asking him who he prefers—Betty or Veronica (usually followed by who they’d pick between Ginger and Mary Ann).

Now, it appears that the eternal teen has grown up, smashing his previous status quo to pieces. And the triangle is finally going to become a straight line. This is news that is exciting and controversial. It is a shake-up that might irritate long-time fans so much they would sell their copy of Archie #1 just because Archie chose Veronica over Betty.

So, in essence, this is a brilliant move by Archie Comics. They have found out what the big two have long known. If you give the public the illusion of a big change to one of their beloved icons, they will come to buy your book. However, Archie is handling it a bit differently than the big two.

Marvel didn’t tell the mainstream press during the coverage of Captain America’s death that the character would be coming back to life months later. DC refused to acknowledge when Batman would be returning to life either. But Archie Comics has been pretty up front about this story being a possible future for the character.

As a matter of fact, rumor has it that the Archie/Veronica wedding story will take up only three issues of the six issue arc, the rest dedicated to what an Archie/Betty union would be like (I wonder if that guy will want his copy of Archie #1 back). After that, Archie will be back roaming the halls of Riverdale High and Betty and Veronica will be back to competing to be Archie’s main paramour.

But the mainstream press either didn’t get this or didn’t care, because they made this out to be the wedding of the year. Whether this translates into sales in anybody’s guess, but comic stores would do well to stock up on copies of this issue.

 Also out this week:

Daredevil #500:
Comics’ greatest redhead is not the only character celebrating a milestone anniversary this week. Comic’s greatest “Hornhead” is celebrating one, too.

This is, if you count all the issues of his various series, Daredevil’s 500th issue (Possibly. Marvel’s math has been called into question a number of times). Marvel is making it a busy one. Not only is it the end of the most recent story arc, but also is the end of Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark’s run on the series.

Don’t be too sad, though. Next issue, the new team of Andy Diggle and Roberto De La Torre take over. If you are not familiar with them, they are creators certainly worthy of getting excited over.

Various (W/A), Marvel Comics, $4.99. Ongoing Series.

Batgirl #1:
DC has had so much mystery in its solicitations for its Batman family of books that you’d think they were written by Agatha Christie. That trend continues this week as a new Batgirl series begins.

But who is Batgirl? Barbara Gordon, healed by some mystic force? Cassandra Cain, who has decided to alter her costume to make it easier for her to breathe? Stephanie Brown, who has traded her purple Spoiler costume in for the black of the Bat? Or someone completely new? That is what DC wants us to be willing to pick up this series to find out.

What is known is that this series will be written by Smallville scribe Bryan Q. Miller, fresh from his arc on Teen Titans. Think of it as a twisted version of the World’s Finest team. 

Bryan Q. Miller (W), Lee Garbett (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Punisher Noir #1:
The first round of Marvel’s “Noir” line seemed kind of a stretch for the narrative style. I mean, you didn’t see many Humphrey Bogart films where he shot laser beams from his eyes or Dashiell Hammett writing stories about kids who could stick to walls. But this latest batch of books seems to be a better fit in the noir genre.

Look at it this way, what does the Punisher do? Kill mobsters. When did organized crime really take a powerful hold on the country? It became strong during the prohibition period where most noir stories are set. So, Frank Castle seems to be a perfect fit for noir and vice versa. Add to that the fact that he runs into notorious gangster Dutch Schultz and politician Thomas Dewey in this story, and you have an intriguing addition to the Noir line. 

Frank Tieri (W), Paul Azaceta (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Swordsmith Assassin #1:
The swordsmen of Feudal Japan have inspired a number of comic books over the years. From the classic manga Lone Wolf and Cub to Frank Miller’s futuristic Ronin to Stan Sakai’s anthropomorphic Usagi Yojimbo, the samurais and sword wielders of ancient Asia seem to provide no end of ideas to comic creators. That trend continues this week, with the focus on a sword maker rather than a sword swinger.

Like most of these kind of tales, it is a tale of honor and revenge. A renowned swordsmith finds his family has been slaughtered by one of his weapons. This inspires him to hunt down those responsible, and make sure that the last person to kill using one of his swords will be him.

Andrew Cosby & Michael Alan Nelson (W), Ayhan Hayrula (A), BOOM! Studios, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.


William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com

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  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Aug 18, 2009 at 8:58pm

    My prediction on the Archie wedding: He will reconsider at the last minute and realize that he wants Betty. People will likely be rooting for the sweet, girl-next-door type so chances are starting this with Veronica is a fake-out to add drama. But I could be wrong. As for Batgirl #1, who is in the mask will determine if I'm interested or not. DC has run Cassandra Cain through the wringer lately and I don't want to see them abandon her as a character.

  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Aug 19, 2009 at 8:03pm

    Well. Guess I'm not reading Batgirl. That was not what I was hoping for at all.

  • CA3

    CA3 Aug 23, 2009 at 1:40pm

    I haven't picked up an Archie comic in years, but I doubt this'll motivate me to start anytime soon.

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