When the Life with Archie series began, I made the assumption it would be following Michael Uslan’s miniseries from Archie #600-605. That writer Paul Kupperberg would be giving readers a more detailed examination of the two realities. So even though Archie and Veronica were separating, I could look forward to their getting back together and having twins some day.
There were some differences right out of the gate, but I decided not to be one of those fans who let minor continuity issues ruin a good story — even though I am that kind of fan. With this issue, however, Kupperberg blows my assumption out of the water. He establishes the mini-series as a dream. A dream that inspired scientist Dilton Doiley to work on a project that crosses alternate universes.
So the miniseries happened, but not really, so Kupperberg can ignore the events he wants to. You know what this means? Life with Archie is like Spider-Man’s “One More Day,” only without Mephisto and handled in a way more palatable to readers.
Kupperberg knows how to write a dramatic story. He juggles dozens of plots between the two universes and keeps deepening the mystery of what’s going on with Dilton, Mr. Lodge, and the slimy Fred Mirth. Where he really shines though, is in the quiet human moments. Jughead and Archie discuss Archie’s failing marriage and Veronica’s character.
Reggie looks for an angle even as he and Betty celebrate their burgeoning careers. Ethel and Jughead share a moment of reflection and ice cream. Mr. Weatherbee encourages Moose after the fire that destroyed the school. Chuck lets his jealousy over Nancy’s success get the better of him. And in the scene of the issue, Betty tries to comfort Mrs. Lodge after the crash of Veronica’s plane.
These are moments that fill in plot details and move the story forward, yet they feel natural, not like forced exposition.
Fernando Ruiz, who handles the “Archie Marries Veronica” chapter, gives the characters a more caricatured look than Norm Breyfogle did, which makes them look younger than they have been.
Also, I’m not sure if it’s Al Milgrom’s inks or the way the panel’s laid out, but sometimes the characters have a very flat look to them.
Pat and Tim Kennedy share the penciling duties in “Archie Marries Betty.” I don’t know who did what, but I know that Mrs. Lodge looks absolutely stunning in her first appearance:
Then there’s a panel of Betty going out a door that’s striking:
The characters lean toward a more realistic appearance here and the bodies are drawn in very naturalistic poses. They lean and slump. Bob Smith’s inks have weight without overpowering the figures. That’s not to say everything is perfect. There are a few heads that don’t seem to be attached correctly to necks, faces change shapes between panels, and characters change size.
Jack Morelli and Janice Chiang do their usual fantastic lettering job in the respective stories, while Glenn Whitmore’s colors heighten emotional moments and give depth to the scenes.
It’s format may have changed from its original magazine/comic inception to comic, but entering its second year Life with Archie remains a fascinating read.
For the past thirteen years, Penny Kenny has been an elementary library paraprofessional in a rural school district. For the seven years prior to that, she headed a reading-math program designed to help first grade students with learning difficulties. Her book reviews regularly appeared in Starlog from 1993 to the magazine’s unfortunate demise in 2009 and she has published several e-novellas under a pen name. She has been a reviewer with Comics Bulletin since 2007.