May 19, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 814: Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #253, January 1977

Betty does construction. Veronica shuns her rich relatives. And Reggie gets schooled in the errors of his dominant male ways.

This one's a little more egalitarian than most the Betty and Veronica comics I've read this week. The only one that falls slightly short is the first story, in which the Archie and Jug are planning a fishing trip, and the girls are obviously too delicate to handle the rigours (?!) of camping.

Having camped with a number of women, I have to say that they're often far better at it and far better prepared than I ever am.

The stories in the latter bits of the Seventies might be less sexist (slightly), but they're also slightly less entertaining. The punchlines just seem a little....meh. Like the one on the cover there. While it might be hearkening back to The Archies' heyday with "Sugar Sugar," the punch line on the cover is forced. I had to read it a couple of times to understand he was talking about the sweetness of the girls, though that doesn't ring true for at least one of "Archie's Girls." Sweetness is not exactly a character trait we associate with Veronica. Indeed, in this issue, when Betty tries to construct a play area in a local park for some children, Veronica has it stopped purely out of her own self-interest. Even in the final story, in which Reggie demonstrates some remarkably troubling male behaviours, Veronica teaches him a lesson that is not sweet at all.

I'm sure people who've thought about it much longer and harder than I can identify the golden ages of the Archie comics. I think the late Seventies is a bit of a downswing. The Eighties stuff I remember growing up on was quite good, but then in the later Eighties and early Nineties, things flounder again. Once I've finally read all of my Archie comics, in 37 years or so, I'll be in a better position to judge.

To be continued.

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