Betty and Veronica Vixens Volume 1
Jamie L. Rotante (Writer), Eva Cabrera (Art), Rachel Deering (Letters), Elaina Unger (Colours)
July 24, 2018
The premise of this comic couldn’t be simpler. Craving some excitement and danger, Betty and Veronica decide to start a biker gang. They round up a few of their friends—Midge, Ethel and Toni—and with the help of Veronica’s credit card and Bubbles, the local mechanic, they’re in business. At first, it’s just for fun, but soon they find themselves tangled up with the gang from the other side of the tracks, the Southside Serpents, and they’re forced to rise to the challenge to defend their town and show the Serpents who’s boss.
The initial promise of a biker gang version of Betty and Veronica convinced me to pick this up. But when I actually started reading, I was surprised to find this takes place in a normal Archie universe. Which meant that in only a few issues they had to explain why these fairly normal high school students would start a biker gang when none of them even knew how to ride a motorcycle. And in only a few issues they went from barely being able to keep their bikes upright to taking on the toughest gang in town. It felt far-fetched to say the least.
I personally think this would have worked better if it was just an alternate version of Riverdale, where their gang, the Vixens, just existed with no origin story. This would have made it easier to reconcile their original characters with their new hobby and allowed them to start off with a bit more experience before taking on more dangerous situations, like a face-off with the Serpents. This kind of alternate reality isn’t unprecedented, Afterlife with Archie and the TV show, Riverdale, being too good examples, so it’s unclear why they didn’t go that route with Vixens.
The focus on the female characters was a refreshing change though. The woman of Riverdale are the primary focus of this series. Archie and Reggie make a few brief cameos, but for the most part, the ladies are left to their own devices. There’s no unnecessary scene where the boys teach them to ride a bike or throw a punch. These are skills they develop together as a group. And it’s not just Betty and Veronica. Classic characters, Midge, Ethel, Cheryl, and Toni all play a much bigger role in this comic than they usually do. They even bring in (and reimagine) some characters from the original Little Archie comics that some readers may not be as familiar with, like Evelyn Evernever and Penny Peabody.
What really worked for me about this comic though was the aesthetic, especially the fashion. There was clearly a lot of thought and creativity put into their outfits and appearance, with a lot of little details that you should definitely take the time to admire. I also appreciated the colours. They could have easily gone dark with the palette, but almost all of the panels are done in bright colours that really pop off the page. Even the scenes are night have a great purple background for the sky/lightning that keep up the energetic feel of the whole collection.
I still really like this concept, even if the execution of the story was a little weak. Volume 2 is also due out later this year, and I’m planning to give it a chance, primarily for the artwork, but also to see if some of the weaker elements of the story are tightened up. I’m relieved this wasn’t limited to a five-issue mini-series and that this new take on these classic characters has a chance to develop some more nuance.