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THE IMPENDING NUPTIALS OF ARCHIE ANDREWS AND ?

You can’t, by now — given the topic’s recent worldwide ballyhoo on all sides, front and center included — be ignorant of the impending nuptials of Archie Andrews. “The eternal love triangle” that has been “the cornerstone of Archie comic books for over 65 years will, apparently — if we are to believe the publisher’s press releases (always a dubious proposition) — be dissolved sometime this summer. The management has waited for one of those Significant Numbers that all of fandom dotes on: issue No. 600, shipping August 12, will, it seems, carry a story the title of which is “Archie Gets Married, Part 1: The Proposal.” The press release fairly bubbles with seductive come-ons: “Could it be true? Has Archie finally decided to take the plunge and propose to one of comics' favorite girls? It sure looks that way!” Well, maybe. But I think there’s a subversive twist embedded in the plot.

Archie_betty_veronica The story, drawn by Archie veteran Stan Goldberg, was written by Michael Uslan, who took a break from his usual obsession, Batman (and all other costumed heroes of yore), to pursue his other favorite subject, Archie Comics’ defining essence, the Archie/Betty/Veronica relationship. In promoting the “Archie Story of the Century,” the press release reminds us of another story, published earlier this year, in which “readers got a chance to relive ‘Freshman Year’ with the famous teens of Riverdale High. Now,” the release goes on breathlessly, “make way for this special story that takes a look at Archie and his friends after they graduate college! [My emphases.] What careers will they seek? Will the friends stay in Riverdale or disperse? What would lead Archie to have marriage on his mind? And who would he choose, Veronica or Betty? How will Betty react? How will Veronica react? Can Archie shake off his klutzy past and hold down a steady job for more than a month?” A “special story.” Yup, it’s one of those “imaginary” stories, an “elseworld” yarn: what happens in it will have absolutely no effect on future issues of Archie titles or the fates of the Riverdale gang. Moreover, the press release is coyly silent about whether there will be a Part 2: “The Wedding.” Probably not. But it won’t matter: whatever happens in Elseworld, stays in Elseworld. In all once and future issues of Archie comics, the eternal triangle will continue, prolonged, presumably, forever, frozen in time and aspic.

But isn’t it fun to think about Archie choosing one or the other of his paramours? And it is exactly that provocation the publisher has in mind in condoning the sacrilege: our overwhelming curiosity will drag us, wild with anticipation, to the newsstand to buy No. 600 and whatever other issues cling to the marriage proposition.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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