Written by: Paul Kupperburg (Veronica/Betty), J. Torres (Jinx)
Art by: Norm Breyfogle (Veronica), Tim Levins (Betty), Rick Burchett (Jinx)
The first surprise I had at opening this issue was seeing that they’ve switched the comic stories from glossy paper to regular comic newsprint; the special features are still on glossy paper, though. I assume they did this to save money, given the addition of the Jinx feature?
Speaking of the special features, they’re also the first thing seen upon opening this issue, not the first comic story. Fillers about Oscars-related celebs and a “Wizards of Waverly Place” one-page gag are seen. The end of the magazine also has more special features, including prom tips for girls, two pages of puzzles (presumably recycled from some Archie digests; the art on the girls looks like they date from the 80s or 90s), “Big Ethel’s Riverdale Horoscopes,” and Jughead “reviewing” some new Donkey Kong video game. Not much else to say about the fillers, besides my being surprised they’re the opening and closing features, and that a modern Archie comic actually used the phrase “Big Ethel.” Lately, Archie’s been shying away from calling Ethel such, to the point of whiting-out the word “Big” in digest reprints of older stories.
Ah yes, the actual stories (the reason I bought this magazine)…
In the “Veronica” story, more of Reggie and Betty’s budding relationship is seen, along with Reggie’s legal problems (caused by Mr. Lodge). There’s also more of Moose’s early days as mayor, and the tabloids spreading rumors about Reggie being seen with Veronica. Chuck and Nancy also make a brief appearance.
Nice to see Reggie getting development beyond just being a smart-aleck, though I suppose being an adult’s forced him to become something other than the G-rated “Eric Cartman” of the Archie gang.
The “Jinx” story focuses on Jinx getting used to dealing with high school cliques, plus the lack of fall/winter term team sports for girls at her high school, which sets up the cliffhanger for this story. Nice that Jinx resists others suggesting she “try out for cheerleading,” but I wonder how big this high school is supposed to be—they don’t have a girls’ basketball team? Or a girls’ field hockey (or even ice hockey) team? It also seems a bit reminiscent of the “Betty tries out for boys’ baseball” “New Look” story from the digests a year or two ago. Still, I’m enjoying reading about the teenaged Jinx, and look forward to the next issue’s installment.
Finally, in the “Betty” story, we see Archie and Betty (plus the traditional Riverdale High staff) prepare for the start of the first school year without Miss Grundy, as well as Archie and Betty’s first year as teachers. We’re also introduced to a few new members of the student body, including a now-teenaged version of Leroy, Veronica’s bratty grade-school-aged cousin in the regular Archie books. There’s also brief asides with Jughead and Midge trying to franchise the Chocklit Shoppe, Reggie’s new newspaper job, and Mr. Lodge continues his slide toward Mr. Burns-territory.
Nice to see Betty show some toughness, though I’m guessing Archie will have a “learning” moment as an educator in future installments. The identity of Mr. Lodge’s “mole” at Riverdale High seems a bit obvious, though I’ll wait to see how that turns out. I also look forward to seeing how Archie and Betty will get along with their “new” coworkers, considering they were once Archie and Betty’s own teachers. Apparently Coach Kleats, Coach Clayton, and Professor Flutesnoot are still working at Riverdale High, along with Mr. Weatherbee…
Next issue: A special feature about Lady Gaga (as mentioned above), complete with a meat-dress photo on the cover.