Betty & Veronica #2: The Best Things in Life Aren’t Free

Betty and Veronica #2 Cover C, drawn by Ryan Sook. Written by Jamie Lee Rotante and drawn by Sandra Lanz. Published by Archie Comics. 30 December, 2019

Betty & Veronica #2

Jamie Lee Rotante (Writer), Sandra Lanz (Artist), Kelly Fitzpatrick (Colours), Jack Morelli (Letters)
Archie Comics
30 January, 2019

Veronica is flourishing at her fashion magazine internship, so much so that she is being offered her very own advice column. The idea is appealing—Veronica loves sharing her opinion—but she wants to write about fashion, not give advice on life. Still, it’s an amazing opportunity, and will help with her application to Hitchens U, which she is coming around to. Not that she needs to work too hard for her application. Her dad has connections that can get her in.

Betty and Veronica #2 Cover A, drawn by Sandra Lanz. Written by Jamie Lee Rotante and drawn by Sandra Lanz. Published by Archie Comics. 30 December, 2019

Meanwhile, Betty is far too busy to even think. Alongside college applications, tutoring Moose, being Ethel’s campaign manager, and building homes for the less fortunate, Betty is run off her feet. On top of everything, Betty’s dad loses his job. While he searches for a new one, Betty tries to help her mom with finances by taking on more work.

Both girls have so much playing on their minds and when their hectic schedules get to be too much, Betty and Veronica turn to the only person who will understand—each other.

The first issue of this new Betty & Veronica series left me wanting. The focus was too much on their romances, instead of on their academic and professional achievements. Betty & Veronica #2 rectifies this error by showcasing the girls’ work and the obstacles, or lack thereof, in their path to success. I am so relieved!

Veronica is offered her own advice column in Betty and Veronica #2 page 4. Written by Jamie Lee Rotante and drawn by Sandra Lanz. Published by Archie Comics. 30 December, 2019I particularly like how well this issue highlights the privilege afforded to some students over others. Veronica is practically assured a place at a prestigious college without having to do any work, and is lauded at her workplace for the simplest of tasks, while her less privileged friend Betty is working herself half to death, and has to deal with her father losing his job.

And Betty is still more privileged than her fellow classmates. When she meets up with Toni, she realises that the $60 she’s paying per college application is a luxury that her friend Toni can’t afford. Meanwhile, Moose is in depression because he’s missed school and hasn’t managed to get a football scholarship. Without it, his future is bleak.

For the young adults picking up Betty & Veronica #2, the sentiments in this book will resonate on a deep level. Insecurities about the future, worries about parents losing their jobs in the current volatile economic climate, and the difficulties of hanging on to friendships while still trying to make it to the top…these are all issues that plague young (and older) people trying to navigate a more hostile existence.

There’s a lot less romance in Betty & Veronica #2, which is perfect because books with female protagonists far too often relegate them to love interests in their own stories. Rather, this issue takes an almost cynical approach to romance. Betty and Archie seemed to be on their way towards a new relationship in the previous issue, but here, Archie is shown preening about and being fairly useless, a bad match for the hard-working and dedicated Betty. Meanwhile, Veronica has zero interest in romantic entanglements, focusing her efforts on being a good friend to Betty.

Unfortunately, this is the Archie-verse, which means no good deed can go unpunished. I’m intrigued to see where the misunderstanding that Betty & Veronica #2 ends on will lead. In the history of Archie Comics, Betty and Veronica have very rarely remained friends for long. Their brief alliances have usually fizzled out, likely because of some boy or other. Though this series is meant to show the two becoming friends, one has to wonder if two such different people can ever see eye to eye.

The art by Sandra Lanz has really grown on me. It took some time to get used to it in the first issue of Betty & Veronica, but I have to agree with her stylistic choices. The almost cutesy look of early Archie Comics isn’t the way to go with a story that deals with mature subject matter. What I also like about Lanz’s work is that all the characters are easily identifiable once you have an idea of who they are. In essence, Lanz has created her own visual vocabulary within the larger Archie-verse.

Betty works to better other's lives in Betty and Veronica #2 page 6. Written by Jamie Lee Rotante and drawn by Sandra Lanz. Published by Archie Comics. 30 December, 2019I have been an ardent fan of Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colours since I first encountered her work in the Archie Meets Batman ‘66 series, and she continues to wow me here. Yes, Betty & Veronica has a far more muted tone, but that doesn’t stop Fitzpatrick from creating a vibrant landscape and uber-colourful characters.

Betty & Veronica #2 has restored my faith in this series. It looks like Betty & Veronica isn’t going to shy away from examining the more troubling issues that face young people today. One hopes that readers will see themselves in the pages and realise that they are not alone. That, more than anything else, has the potential to be this series’ legacy.

Louis Skye

Louis Skye

A writer at heart with a fondness for well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comic books, films, television, books or video games. She always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media.