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Betty #176

Posted: Monday, October 27, 2008
By: Penny Kenny

Various
Stan Goldberg, John Lowe (i), Barry Grossman (c)
Archie Comics
With the help of writers George Gladir, Bill Golliher, and Mike Pellowski, perennially perky Betty offers her take on good luck charms, cheese dip, her mother’s fitness routine, and married bliss.

In “The Many Charms of Luck” Betty ruminates on her personal lucky charms and those of her friends. There’s no plot to speak of, but Gladir subtly makes the point that it’s better to trust in hard work than luck. The idea of having a lucky bracelet or pair of shoes will resonate with young readers, as will the seemingly contradictory one of not being superstitious. It’s a snapshot of the human condition most readers will instinctively get.

In the second story, Betty’s new cheese dip has Archie and Moose all excited – as well as Veronica and Midge! But for different reasons. While the boys love it, it has a nasty side effect: Halitosis. Or as Moose says, “Duh…and bad breath too!” “Breathless” creates a few chuckles primarily because of the comic overreactions of Veronica and Midge. The story doesn’t ever devolve into farce, but artist Stan Goldberg does make the most of the girls’ expressions, and writer Bill Golliher has them exclaiming with gusto.

Mike Pellowski’s “Fitness Quiz” is a strong entry that focuses on Betty’s mother. After a workout at the gym, Betty wonders how her stay at home Mom keeps her slender figure. The clever script shows readers how Mrs. Cooper’s everyday routine is the ultimate workout and ends with a sweet adult (in the positive sense) moment. There’s a nice play on ideas and expectations here and a real sense of family warmth. The gentle humor comes for the most part from the contrast between words and thoughts, rather than from exaggerated body language or situations. Goldberg obviously has a fondness for Mrs. Cooper as some of the best art of the issue is on display here. This slice of life story would hands down be the issue’s best tale if not for the superior following one.

Pellowski’s “Wedding Blistered,” is a clear-eyed examination of marriage. Starry-eyed Betty is caught up in the romance of marrying young until she overhears some young couples at a wedding reception. Without being negative, the script points out that marriage is more than just a fancy party and that compromises and sacrifices have to be made to make it work. While young readers probably won’t pick “Wedding Blistered” as their favorite story -- it takes some of the glamour out of marriage -- if they absorb the lesson of it, they’ll be more ready for a mature relationship later on. On the art front, Goldberg gives readers the single best Betty illustration in the issue here. The second to the last panel has her posed in the middle of the scene, her red gown clinging to her curves. Her thoughtful expression adds an unusual maturity to her appearance. John Lowe’s inks emphasize the smooth flow of her uplifted arms, the fit of her dress, and the weight of her bracelets. It’s an image that’s both wholesome and sexy, like a '40s screen siren.

While Betty #176 isn’t a must have issue, it’s still worth picking up. And if you know a tween/teen who thinks marriage the day after high school graduation is a good idea, make sure they read “Wedding Blistered.”



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