Editor’s Note: This review was published on Aug. 3 and covered only vol. 2 of The Married Life. After the reviewer was able to read vol. 1 of The Married Life and Archie: In Will You Marry Me?, the decision was made to update the review to encompass the entire storyline of Archie getting married. The review is being reposted to allow readers who may have missed it the first time to enjoy the updated version.
Archie: In Will You Marry Me?
In the early 70s, my sister and I found a box of old Archie comics that were being thrown away. This was a treasure trove to us and we quickly read them all. Because I started reading Archie so long ago, because the comics I read were quite old in and of themselves, and because of Archie Comics’s habit of re-running stories, I feel I can safely say that I have been reading Archie from its beginnings. And for all that time, I wondered, would Archie end up with Betty or Veronica?
In Archie: In Will You Marry Me? writer Michael Uslan has finally answered that question. And since there was no way to give one answer to that question, he has given us two. This graphic novel compiles the four issues Uslan wrote to address Archie’s wedding(s).
Uslan uses the convention of two roads converging in a wood to act as our time machine, each time conveying Archie along a different future path following him about ten years into the future.
The art in this felt a little rushed. While I appreciate that styles change over the years and that characters evolve, especially with different artists drawing them, there were moments where the characters’s looks deviated so much from the original that it would have been hard to tell who they were if they were not addressed by name.
I like Uslan’s little inside jokes in each version. When Archie is marrying Veronica Reggies toasts “It seems like its taken 70 years for this day to arrive,” and when Archie is marrying Betty, Reggie jokes “You even own a tie? And a 1941 bow tie does not count!” Of course, the first Archie comic appeared in 1941, 70 years ago, and he was wearing a bow tie.
Archie: The Married Life, vol. 1-2
This series was started based on the success of Archie: In Will You Marry Me? There are a few plot inconsistencies from that volume and the beginning of this one. Archie: The Married Life backs the reader up and begins right after the wedding and honeymoon have taken place as Archie settles down and begins to figure out married life.
In one world, Archie has married Veronica and is working for Mr. Lodge and living in Riverdale. Mr. Lodge seems fairly evil, working only to make Riverdale a metropolis, with Veronica and Archie trying to keep Riverdale quaint. In the other world, Archie has married Betty and the two of them have recently moved back to Riverdale after failing to make it in the big city and have accepted jobs teaching at Riverdale high..
I like the subplots almost more than the main plot. I like the ways Uslan makes small but significant changes to the plot. So in one version, Midge and Moose break up and she marries Jughead. In the other version, Midge and Moose break up, Midge starts dating Jughead, and he has trouble committing. In one version Chuck and Nancy are becoming successful cartoonists. In the other version, only Nancy is getting the success and Chuck is struggling to deal with his jealousy and be supportive. And Uslan has hinted at something mysterious with the geeky Dilton Doiley, who seems to have disappeared, running through both timelines.
As a long time reader, I appreciate that these books have the same artistic feel as other Archie comics. As a known brand, this is not a place where I am looking for creative or novel art work. These are the characters I know and love, updated a little but still completely recognizable.
My personal preference would have been to lay out the book with all the Archie Marries Betty issues together and all the Archie Marries Veronica issues together, rather than switching back and forth as the two volumes of Archie: The Married Life do. I found it a little jarring to have to jump back and forth between story lines and remember the slight differences in sub-plots each time. And in fact, I didn’t. I ended up reading one storyline straight through, skipping the other, and then started over again from the beginning with the other plot line.
But that is a small stylistic quibble. In general, these are a strong edition to the Archie world, satisfying readers who have been waiting a long time to see what would happen when these characters finally grew up.
Recommended for 13 and up (mature situations but no sex or violence)
Publisher Age Rating: teen to adult