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Review: ‘Betty and Veronica: The Bond of Friendship’

Betty and Veronica: The Bond of Friendship
Writer: Jamie Lee Rotante
Artist: Brittney Williams
Archie Comics; $14.99

This short and sweet original graphic novel uses career day at Riverdale High as a sort of prism through which to shine the friendship of Betty and Veronica, creating four possible futures for the pair as they embark on different careers in different fields.

The studious Betty Cooper is excited about the possibilities of the day, which she calls the best day of the year, while the already wealthy and well-connected Veronica is significantly cooler to it. After hearing an inspiring speech from a local politician, though, she is far more open, and she convinces Betty to abandon her detailed list and go with the flow.

They hear the stories of four accomplished women, each of whom give a brief talk, which is then followed by an extended imagined future for the girls. Most of the presenters are extant Archie characters: Katy Keene, the latest version of superhero The Shield and even the politician Elena Martinez, who had a brief role in a weird 2012 “Occupy Riverdale” issue of Archie. They inspire the girls to imagine lives as celebrities, superheroes, and even running for president together someday…not as president and vice-president, mind you, but as co-presidents (“It’s just not feasible for one person to act in the best interest of various groups,” a future Betty explains).

The fourth is an astronaut, inspiring a sequence in which Betty and some fellow Riverdale brains grow up to become astronauts, eventually carrying out a daring space mission in which they discover alien life. In that fantasy Veronica, wanting to help make her friend’s dream come true, handles PR for NASA, but accidentally ends up on the launching shuttle and accompanies them into space.

There’s a subplot involving Kevin Keller, who is not entirely sure he wants to carry on the Keller family tradition of serving in the military but is afraid to break it to his father, that plays out between the speeches and daydreams. The other more familiar faces from Riverdale’s student body make brief appearances throughout, sometimes in the halls of the high school, sometimes in the fantasy futures, sometimes in both (Reggie Mantle’s appearance as the prime minister of the newly sovereign island nation of New Reginwald probably being my favorite).

Notably, Archie Andrews plays a relatively small role in the book and doesn’t come into play in any of the possible futures as a potential husband or boyfriend, which comes as something of a relief. Not only have we already seen stories of possible futures in which Archie marries either Betty or Veronica, but it’s refreshing to see that things don’t always have to revolve around Archie, even if the publisher is named after him, especially when we’re talking about Betty and Veronica’s careers and futures.

Artist Brittney Williams, whose sharp, simple and expressive style will be familiar from her Goldie Vance and Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat comics, was apparently born to draw Betty and Veronica comics, as is apparent on every panel of every page of the book. She seemingly effortlessly ages and de-ages the various characters as she tells stories of their pasts, presents and possible futures, and is equally comfortable in every genre that writer Jamie Lee Rotante’s  light dramedy takes a detour into. It’s almost a shame the girls don’t visit more speakers, as it’s fun watching Williams mastering whatever Rotante’s script throws at her.

Ultimately, it will come as no surprise what the girls will be when they grow up, as it’s the same thing they’ve been for decades now: Friends. Not that they ever will grow up, of course, as doing so would jeopardize their real careers as comic book characters.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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