Updated on December 10, 2021
Life With Archie #18
Written by: Paul Kupperberg (both stories)
Art by: Fernando Ruiz (Veronica), Pat and Tim Kennedy (Betty)
Should post “SPOILERS” right off the bat, as this one finally wraps up the multiverse side of this series’ storyline that’s been ongoing since issue #1.
Basic plot (spanning across both “Veronica” and “Betty”), best as I can sum it up: Ambrose, both Archies, and Reggie (from last issue) find inside a mine one of the Diltons (from the Veronica universe), who turns out to be A) evil (though ultimately realizes the error of his ways) and B) in cahoots with Fred Mirth on trying to turn Memory Lane’s multiverse-spanning abilities into some money-making scheme that’d ultimately destroy both worlds—hence the reason for both Mr. Lodges’ tyrannical behavior since issue #1 (the Lodges are trying to stop Veronica-Dilton and Fred).
Also, apparently my guess was right—there really is only one Fred Mirth among both worlds (apparently he’s from “Earth-Veronica”), but the oddity that he does have a counterpart, Ambrose (apparently native to “Earth-Betty”). On top of that, Ambrose has the ability to hop dimensions on his own (as a way to explain away the more outlandish Little Archie stories—more on that below). The multiverse is ultimately saved (of course), with most of the cast apparently forgetting about its existence (save, presumably, the US military, Fred, Ambrose, both Diltons, and Mr. Lodges). Plus, the secret room under Riverdale High? Command headquarters for the “good” Dilton, made use of here. And on top of all this, the “missing” Veronica from “Earth-Betty” is found (on “Earth-Veronica”) and is sent home. (Think that sums it up… *whew*.)
Quite a lot to cram into one issue, but I assume they finally wanted to wrap up and play down in the future the “multiverse” side of things in this title, as they probably don’t really need the science-fiction elements. The “soap opera” elements are the main draw of this title, and future issue descriptions (however vague) imply they’ll be focusing mainly on that. Still, was amusing to see the referenced alternate realities (including Pureheart the Powerful, etc.) of the Archie multiverse, and since Ambrose and Fred are still around, this aspect won’t be completely going away, of course.
I’ve always just accepted the outlandish “Little Archie” stories (including meeting space aliens, etc.) as having happened as-is to “our” world’s Archie, even if they engage in more “serious” storylines sometimes (like “Life With Archie”), just as I accept that he coexists with/gets occasional visits from Sabrina Spellman. Not to mention the spate of odd things that’s happened without Ambrose/the Little Archie setting (Adam the alien, Jughead’s Time Police, knowing Santa exists, etc.), though I suppose all of those could be set on parallel Earths, as well.
No sign of Chuck in this issue (too bad; as a comic fan, explaining multiple Earths would be right up his alley), but we do get to see Kevin and Clay—they’re spending their honeymoon driving down Route 66 in what looks like a classic car. (Sounds like the plot for an LGBT movie on Logo…)
Next issue will probably return to being focused on the characters’ lives, including the promised upcoming plot about Cheryl Blossom.