We are here again with another volume of Archie The Married Life. Once more readers will be treated to more trials and hardships as Archie and the gang grow out of their Highschool lifestyle that we are all familiar with and grow up in the harsh and cruel world. Paul Kupperberg writes one heck of a storyline filled with surprises and re-introduces familiar characters into the Archie world while creating new ones as well. Norm Breyfogle is accompanied by numerous pencillers and inkers like Tim Levins, Andrew Pepoy, Fernando Ruiz, Pat & Tim Kennedy, Joe Rubinstein, Dan Davis, Al Milgrom and Bob Smith. The long list means that the art would be inconsistent, which can hinder the reading experience. I've also learned that this is not a 24-part limited series but an ongoing one. So the "soap opera" might be a little longer than one expected.
The story is divided into 2 realities, where either Archie is married to Veronica and one where he is married to Betty. A lot has happened on the 2 realities. Two simultaneous weddings, a dear teacher passed away, a businessman is shown his "grit" around dealing what he wants, a restaurant is saved from being closed, a humble man is declared Mayor of Riverdale, a dear friend is being accused of a crime and more. It can still get confusing as to what happened to who and all, so I highly recommend that you read each "reality" first before jumping into the other "reality". It can save you the head-scratching.
Once more I will be giving out some story bits and great moments while not giving everything away, with some images from the volume to make the reading worthwhile and may convince new readers. Man, I should be expecting a check from Archie Comics Publications in the future.
First we go to "Earth-Veronica" (A DC Comics nod) Click to enlarge picture.
The covers to the "Earth-Veronica" are kinda foresighted.
Reggie was convicted for a crime that he didn't commit.
The way he got bothered if he will be serving time kept on being bought
up on the succeeding chapters that it can be tiresome.
Veronica's dilemma here is pretty difficult. How
do you compensate two people that you care so deeply?
These are one of Ethel's few appearances in the volume.
Never really thought that she would be this desirable...
The return of Pop Tate to Riverdale is a welcome story bit.
Once again Reggie is bothered with his situation.
Ms. Jobanpotra is one of the new characters, despite having a funny name,
(She gave Reggie a job. Job=Jobanpotra *snicker*)
It seems the writer created her just to deliver a dialogue in the second panel.
Here we are treated how Reggie can be sincerely sweet.
Just like in real life. Someone's always
raining on your parade, so to speak.
This is a great moment for me.
Someone standing up to Mr. Lodge,
and it is her only daughter.
Another great moment. The way the
panels were fixed are beautifully executed.
Long-time Archie fans would
know who Polly is.
Jason Blossom looks like his dad now,
and has the makings of a villain in the storyline,
just like Mr. Lodge.
This is always the problem
with couples, really...
Another "Reggie bothered about serving time"
Archie, in this state, realizes that
he is just a boy-next-door who
wants something simple.
The Moose really shined in this "Universe"
as someone who is very smart despite what he
thinks of himself.
This is the first time that Dilton Doiley
is formally introduced in the story and
playing a as-of-now unknown role.
Just like in the last volume, Jughead seemed rather
cowardly and selfish, so readers would feel
alienated to him, and the last scene proved it.
This scene is too weird.
Parallel Universe traveling?
What's next? An Omnipresent being destroying the whole world?
One of the surprises done by the writer.
This is another great moment:
Mr. Lodge admitting his villainous actions.
Leave it to a girl to bring
Jughead's character even further down.
Fernando Ruiz's pencils is rather cartoony.
But leave it to the writer to add some weight to it.
Parents can still give sound advice even
when they no longer take care of you.
And now we go "Earth-Betty"
It was difficult finding a good cover, as some
of them can be uninteresting. Plus, Jughead's canine Hot Dog
makes his first appearance, although he is not shown on the volume.
Realizing that New York is not for them (among other factors)
Archie and Betty moved back to Riverdale.
One of the new characters introduced in the "Universe"
where they would pose a challenge to Archie.
Another penciler making the overall look
cartoony. This is one of Jughead's few great moments.
The two succeeding pages are so detailed that I welcomed it...
only to see it appearing only on this issue. Further research tells me it is a work of
an inker. As to who, I am unable to find that out yet.
This is a great moment.
The student becomes the teacher.
Sure I would like to check out my old school if
time would permit me, but I never saw
someone like Archie's gang this excited.
You think that Mr. Lodge would rest after his "messing with Archie" bit?
Bella Beazly is another new character, where she
resembles the hot redhead Cheryl Blossom.
Once more Mr. Lodge being villainous.
Betty as a teacher would have some challenges
thrown at her, and it would be in the form of
outcast student Georgia Wolff.
Reggie shines once more in this "Universe" ,
as a budding investigative reporter who
discovered Mr. Lodge's plan.
Leave it to someone like Archie to
talk someone off flirting with him.
.... And to cool off Betty's jealousy.
This scene saves Jughead's character.
Even I was impressed with what he said.
Chuck Clayton explains what a comic is to readers.
But he is just jealous of his spouse's newfound success.
In this scene we all sympathize with Chuck.
We all know how he really wants to work in the comic book
industry. It was a great moment.
Mr. Weatherbee giving light to a
tragedy. As to how the school was burned,
I won't spoil that.
Now as much as I don't want to spoil too much,
I wanted to show this scene. This is a major cliffhanger
and would make you anxiously wait for Volume 3.
So there. Archie The Married Life Volume 2 offers all the rollercoaster ride what one would expect from a daytime soap opera. While this volumes suffers from inconsistent art, readers can still enjoy what Archie and the gang is going through. It is a good read especially to those who read Volume 1 and longtime Archie fans. Even though there are a lot of characters introduced in either of the "Universe" as well, they are there mostly for making an established character ( like Reggie, f'instance) build their personality.
I've also learned that Fernando Ruiz and Pat & Tim Kennedy would be drawing the series from now on, so readers who got used to Norm Breyfogle would be disappointed. More known characters would be introduced, like Jughead's baby sister Jellybean, so one would think if the obscure ones like Cricket or Jinx Malloy would be presented as well. And all of the time-traveling, reality-bending gibberish? (What's next? Geraldine Grundy: Rebirth story arc?) They would still be there, even getting worse in the later issues. You've been warned.
But comic reviewer Caroline Albanese once said " a series that works with the dual continuity as tongue-in-cheek writing. The story’s use of melodrama is still a great way to mature the Archie universe without affecting any major Archie continuity, and the issue’s pace allows readers to flip through leisurely. It’s almost a guilty pleasure ... [It's] like potato chips, you know it’s not the best thing for you, but once you take that first crunch of a chip you know it’s only a matter of minutes before you eat the entire bag."
All images copyright Archie Comics Publications 2012
- "the king"