Betty & Veronica #5: A Stunning Conclusion

Betty and Veronica #5 Cover B, drawn by Derek Charm. Written by Jamie Lee Rotante and drawn by Sandra Lanz. Published by Archie Comics. 8 May, 2019.

Betty & Veronica #5

Kelly Fitzpatrick (colours), Sandra Lanz (artist), Jack Morelli (letters), Jamie Lee Rotante (writer)
Archie Comics
8 May, 2019

Betty and Veronica’s newly found friendship has had its ups and downs—mainly due to a lack of communication—but that is all in the past come graduation day. As Betty takes the mic as Riverdale High’s valedictorian, she shares her hopes and dreams for her classmates and the bonds that tie them to each other. But first, how did Betty and Veronica save the prom?

Betty and Veronica #5 Cover A, drawn by Derek Charm. Written by Jamie Lee Rotante and drawn by Sandra Lanz. Published by Archie Comics. 8 May, 2019. - Betty and Veronica, wearing graduation caps and casual clothes, hold hands while looking over their shoulders at the viewer

Betty & Veronica #5 caught me by surprise. I genuinely loved this issue, much more than I expected to, especially as the previous issues have sometimes felt lacking with regards to Betty and Veronica’s strained relationship, and particularly when dealing with the romances in their lives. But this issue was completely different! It felt so well put-together, so thoughtful, and extremely mature, a reflection of how the protagonists themselves have evolved over the course of the series.

The disastrous prom was dealt with quite quickly. I don’t think many readers will appreciate the swiftness with which the troubles at prom were cleared away, but the series did not have room to tackle that plot point further. I liked how it was handled in Betty & Veronica #5 because the rest of the issue made for far more interesting reading.

I am a little disturbed by the ease with which Midge and Moose’s relationship is patched up. Though they aren’t together as a couple exactly, Midge displayed a great deal of hostility—dare I say fear?—in the previous issue, which is not addressed in Betty & Veronica #5. Moose was veering on being a possessive ex but here he’s shown as someone desperate to make Midge proud. The way events play out in this issue are incongruous to what we’ve seen before and I do wish some time had been taken to explain this, as it has the potential to leave young readers with a dangerous understanding of what a healthy break-up should look like.

I like that this instalment stepped away from its central protagonists to let Toni Topaz take the spotlight for a bit. Toni had mentioned in a previous issue that she was working on getting teens interested in STEM subjects and we see her hard work being recognised in issue #5. We know the privileges that Veronica enjoys, but even woebegone Betty has some advantages over her classmates, especially people of colour. It was good to see a character of colour have her work acknowledged and rewarded.

I must admit I did not expect Betty and Veronica’s choices for the future to play out the way they did in Betty & Veronica #5. Veronica has always been interested in fashion, and she has even got into a prestigious university that offers a great fashion course, so it is surprising that she instead plans to take a course that will help people around her. Betty’s influence has rubbed off on her, and that’s brilliant.

Betty’s decision was even more unexpected. We see her interviewing at an excellent college, then realising partway through the interview that the elitist attitude of the college would make her feel like an outsider. Not only is this incredibly mature of Betty, but her decision to continue to help people—the way we’ve seen her do throughout this series—shows how selfless Betty really is.

And nothing encapsulates how Betty has grown than her valedictorian speech. Her plea to her fellow students to follow their hearts and find the spark within them was one of the most moving moments of this issue and, in fact, the whole series. Jamie Lee Rotante’s writing in this issue is gorgeous.

More than anything else, I love that this series ends with Betty and Veronica vowing to remain friends, and even making solid plans on how to continue their friendship while they’re apart. For two characters who have historically been enemies, it is wonderful to see a beautiful female friendship slowly but surely blossom between them.

I cannot go on without mentioning how much Sandra Lanz’s art has grown on me. It is very different from the Archie Comics style that I’m used to, but Lanz’s visual language for this series has worked brilliantly to capture the personalities of the characters and that awkward stage that Betty and Veronica find themselves in—not children but not adults—which I perhaps have taken too long to appreciate. I definitely am going to miss Lanz’s art now that this series is over.

I will never tire of championing Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colours. Her vibrant and joyous colour palette made this series a delight to look at and I particularly loved her background colours in this issue, which perfectly conveyed emotions without being obvious about it. Rest assured, I will be keeping my eye out for Fitzpatrick’s next project!

For the last issue of a series that has been enjoyable, powerful, and sometimes annoying, Betty & Veronica #5 has one of the strongest conclusions to a miniseries that I have read in a while. Not only is it uplifting, but it leaves the characters in a position to grow well after the book is concluded. I was deeply moved by the power of the words within this issue and felt the kind of hopefulness that it has promised from the start. This is a truly delightful conclusion to a wonderful story.

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. E always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media. Louis' podcast, Stereo Geeks, is available on all major platforms. Pronouns: E/ Er/ Eir