I got a lot of good presents this holiday season (mostly from myself, but hey, that still counts!), but I think the one that takes the cake is the six-issue comic book series "Archie Marries Veronica."
For those of you who don't know (and why would you, since I never talk about it?), I was a huge comic book nerd when I was around eight or nine years old. There was a store only about six or seven blocks from my house that had everything from pristine first editions in thin plastic envelopes to action figures still in their original boxes to the newest issues of everything Marvel...and Archie. And because it was still "reading," my mother never had a problem letting me grab as many Double Digests as my little arms could hold every couple of weeks that we headed up there.
It has been years since I thought about Archie and his gang, despite the occasional reference to them in some other part of pop culture that I was currently into (such as a throwaway line on an episode of Friends). Earlier this year, though, I was thrilled to see them push aside the superheroes who have been immortalized in book, doll, and film, and hit mainstream again by announcing some "Very Special Issues." After years of having him go back and forth between two girls, Archie was finally ready to settle down and pick one. My little eight year-old heart soared with hope that he'd finally make it official with "girl next door" Betty.
Blonde and bubbly, Betty was smart, sweet, and down-to-Earth. She liked Archie despite his broken down jalopy, despite his barely passing grade point average, despite the fact that he would often blow her off for the richer, more sophisticated Veronica. Betty was in the "best friend" role to Veronica's lead, it often seemed, in Archie (and often times the reader)'s eyes. Though she had comics dedicated to her own exploits, she always seemed simple and somewhat underdeveloped by comparison. And everyone knows the best friend never gets the guy in romantic comedies! But it was 2009 when this announcement was made, and those stereotypical rules and formulas were being broken by the dozen, so...
Well, nothing. The media reported that Archie would pick Veronica. They showed the cover of the first book in the series: he was down on one knee putting a ring on the brunette b*tch's finger. He chose flash and style over substance. With a tearful Betty looking on in the background, too! He didn't even have the common sense to do it in private where he couldn't hurt a good friend and sometimes girlfriend. But that was just a proposal; nothing would be set in stone, so to speak, until they're standing at an alter. Somehow, years after I thought I lost her forever, a little bit of my eight year-old eternal optimist managed to eek out. I found myself still thinking (and hoping) Betty had a shot.
But then I thought about it a little more. Does Archie even deserve Betty? I always related to her as a kid (we were both aspiring writers after all), and I like to think I'm better than someone like Archie. He may mean well, but intentions are often like words: they don't mean much when compared to actions. How many times is she going to let him push her aside, tear a little bit more of her heart, and still wait for him? I know I would never allow myself to go through such nonsense, and if Betty is supposed to be the smart one, the "role model," she shouldn't either!
I admit I haven't received those special six comics just yet. A friend ordered them for me from the website, but I believe there was a short wait before they could be mailed. So I don't know for sure how it turns out for Archie and his harem. But now, even if Archie "comes to his senses" about who is a better fit for him (despite the title of the series), the strong, somewhat cynical woman I have become wants to see him get rejected. Because it's time to break down even more stereotypes for love triangles and relationship dramas/genres: little girls need to learn that it's okay to be single, to set the bar a bit higher, and to never settle!