Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Archie Marries Veronica: "The Proposal" (Part 1 of 6)

Okay, let's just get it all out there. This is a dream sequence. Or a hallucination. This is not canon. This is not THE CHOICE. As soon as Archie #606 rolls around there will be no memory of the walk through a yellow wood. No twins. No weddings. No proposals. Archie will go back to being perpetually 17 and perpetually torn between Betty and Veronica.

That being said, I'm going to tear this bitch apart. I've been waiting my entire life for something like this. I'm excited that I'm alive to witness this ordeal, as fictional as it may be. As I've said in previous blogs, I think it is my duty as a fan to analyze this 6 issue story arc. So let's begin shall we?

(Note...This is the plot summary from the Wikipedia page. I didn't steal it. I wrote it...and created the page. No joke.)

The night before the gang’s graduation from Riverdale High, The Archies play their final concert and mourn the oncoming changes. Archie comes home and after getting heat from his father about picking a college, he takes a walk down Memory Lane…literally. Archie realizes he’s never walked up Memory Lane before and switches directions. After traveling through a yellow wood, Memory Lane splits into two dirt roads. He chooses the left one and "saves the right one for another day." Eventually Archie makes it back to his house no longer wearing his high school lettermen’s jacket but one that reads "State U" on the back. His mother (Mary) exclaims how excited she is for her son’s graduation and his father (Fred) states how he wishes Archie had majored in business instead of history and that he’s still excited he’s graduating from college. Archie dismisses this when Mary states that Veronica is waiting for him inside the house.

Archie is then, inexplicably, cast four years into the future on the eve of his college graduation. He and Veronica discuss the changes in their lives, but both accept growing up. After a successful graduation, Veronica hosts a party at her mansion with Josie and the Pussycats headlining. Archie then learns the future plans of all of his friends:

Veronica Lodge: Working for her father's company (surprise, surprise) in either London or Hong Kong.

Moose Mason: Managing his uncle's burger joint on Staten Island.

Midge Klump: Running her own nail salon in Bayonne, New Jersey. (I had to look up that Bayonne was in Jersey).

Dilton Doiley: Going to M.I.T. for a doctorate in "quantum mechanics."

Reggie Mantle: Working as a used car salesmen in Atlanta.

Jughead Jones: Sticking around Riverdale to figure things out and grilling burgers at Pop's.

Betty Cooper: Working as a buyer for Sacks Fifth Avenue in New York.

(Um, what about Ethel, Chuck, and all those various minority characters?)

Okay, here is my first major grievance with this futuristic Riverdale. Betty is a writer. She has always been a writer. (Okay, at least from the 80's on). This has been specifically evident in the Betty's Diary issues. And especially in the Lydia Wyndham stories. The movie even got this right, for christsakes! I understand the reasoning behind sending Betty to New York. But have her working on her writing career! Or at least working as a journalist! But a buyer for Sacks? Fashion is more of Veronica thing. WTF!!!!! ARG!!!!

Okay...back on track.

A few weeks after graduation, Archie is given a large sum of money by his parents. He then uses it for the down payment on an engagement ring for Veronica. (You gotta spend money to make money, huh Arch?) He proposes to her in "Spiffany's" just as Betty and Jughead happen to walk by and witness. Veronica accepts and Betty runs weeping in an unknown direction. Jughead later chastises Archie for not telling him his plan. Eventually, Archie and Veronica tell Mr. Lodge, who accepts Archie as his future son-in-law as long as he works for Lodge industries. Without any other jobs lined up, Archie goes along with it as his fiancee plans the biggest wedding Riverdale has ever seen.

Archie's proposal to Veronica in a jewelry store is so lame. Don't get me wrong, I think we're supposed to have this reaction. It's so cliche (for those of us who've seen Sweet Home Alabama). However, Archie does know Veronica well enough to know that the chances of her saying "yes" greatly improve if she's asked in a room full of diamonds. It's corny, but it's good news Archie really knows the woman he plans spending the rest of his life with.

One thing I will say for Veronica: she's no gold digger. All of her life, she's been surrounded by men of wealth and affluence, many of which her father has probably pushed at her. But Veronica always comes back to middle class Archie. Now, it's possible she assumes that Archie now has money since he can afford a Spiffany's engagement ring. It's also possible that Veronica knows her father will make sure Archie has a steady job at Lodge Industries and she will be kept in the lap of luxury. But I'm choosing to give Veronica the benefit of the doubt.

Now, you all know I'm on Team Betty, and my sympathies are with her. But these first three issues are about Archie marrying Veronica and I, just like her, have to wrap my mind around it. Archie's done a lot of crappy, thoughtless things in his life, but it's not his fault Betty just so happened to witness his proposal to Veronica. It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even though the panel is practically identical to the cover, I still cried.

It's unfortunate and dramatic, certainly, and makes for great fiction. But my big issue is that Archie didn't discuss it with Jughead. His best friend, who's witnessed every single Betty and Veronica endeavor. The one guy who's always been there for him, who's listened to his bitching and moaning. Archie didn't even think to mention to him because "he might not go through with it." The real reason Archie doesn't tell Jughead is because he knows Jughead will try to talk him out of it. And he knows Jughead would be right. But when one is love, specifically with a Veronica, warnings always fall on deaf ears.

The residents of Riverdale are overwhelmed with shock that Archie finally chose between his two favorite gals, but also concerned with Betty's well being. In the end, Veronica calls Betty and asks her to be her maid of honor. Instead of answering, Betty simply leaves the phone on her bed, leaving readers to guess what she will do.

We all know she's going to say yes. (Even those of us who haven't seen the cover of Archie #601 with a tearful Betty standing beside the happy couple in a hideous dress know it.) I found it touching the way the whole town was concerned about Betty. Most of the Riverdale residents probably always assumed Archie would settle for Betty when it came down to it. (Just like all us readers). I can't help but wonder what the reaction will be when Veronica is the one left in the dust.

Overall, my biggest issue with Part 1 is Betty's job. She should be an aspiring writer. And then there's also Archie's job. He graduated as a history major and he thinks he'll be doing something history related at Lodge Industries (fat chance, Arch). I hoped (before I read the next two issues) that Archie's lack of passion in his work would be a legitimate argument within his and Veronica's marriage. But you'll just have to wait until the next log to find out if it makes a difference.

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