The Archies and Josie and the Pussycats
By Koppy McFad
February 6, 2011 - 00:03
The Archies rock band meet Josie and the Pussycats, resulting in an interracial romance between Archie and Valerie that the rest of the cast are determined to break up.
Well no, it isn't exactly that bad. The Archies-- who in this story are depicted as a famous rock band-- despite the fact that they are made up of high school teenagers, are booked alongside Josie and the Pussycats in a concert tour. In the course of their collaboration, Archie Andrews, the titular leader of the Archies and Valerie, the resident smart (and did we mention that she is black) bass player of the Pussycats, fall in love. They try to keep their romance alive but the Pussycats' busy touring schedule makes this difficult.
Additionally, Betty and Veronica are naturally jealous about their Archiekins. Alexander Cabot, the manager of the Pussycats, doesn't want them sharing the stage (and the concert profits) with another band. Alexandra Cabot, at the urging of her brother, falls for Archie and Reggie naturally wants to upstage his red-haired rival. Can this relationship survive the plots of the Archie universe's greatest schemers?
On one hand, there is something genuinely touching (and even slightly erotic) about the way Archie and Valerie suddenly fall in love, from shared pizzas to a chaste peck on the lips to a passionate embrace. This Archie romance feels more real than his other relationships, maybe because we actually see it progress, in contrast to Betty and Veronica, whose relationshp with Archie has always been just.... there. For her part, Valerie has never had any big romance so this is a big thing for this character who has had her sex appeal played down for many years.
Seeing the way Archie and Valerie get along, a newcomer to ARCHIE comics might think that these two were the canonical couple who were made for each other. Of course, we know that this relationship will probably not make it into mainstream ARCHIE continuity (whatever that is, nowadays.)
The Archie-Valerie relationship is very politically correct. The racial differences between Archie and Valerie is not brought up, except indirectly, in Valerie's nickname for Archie, "Freckles." In fact, the entire story is probably too safe-- too politically correct. Although the other characters may initialy try to drive Archie and Valerie apart, in the end, they all seem to give in too easily, once they realize that they shouldn't stand in the way of true love, blah, blah, blah. That may be a more mature form of behaviour but this is a comic book and in the past, Betty, Veronica, Alexander et al., have gone after their goals with no holds barred and no concern for anything else. This has resulted in zany schemes, dirty tricks and massive humiliation-- all for the greater good and bigger laughs. But this time, they seem neutered, like the publishers were afraid of making any of the characters look too 'bad.'
The story could have been funnier-- and perhaps more dramatic if the obstacles to the romance were depicted as more than just nuisances. The racial issues could have at least been acknowledged and the concerns of the other characters could have been given more legitimacy. (Alexander for one, seems to be acting just like a real world music manager who would look out for his band's interests.)
The art also plays it too safe. Most characters are just shown standing in the middle of panel, making the story look rather static. Again, it is the scenes of Archie and Valerie falling in love that show more action and heart, as though the art team was only allowed to cut loose there.
Archie comics has been taking some risks in recent years, experimenting with new art styles, new formats and introducing a gay character. But by leaving out the sources of conflict that have spiced up the older comics, they could end up producing stories that are actually duller than the ones they were using in the 1960s. when Betty and Veronica went hammer and tongs at each other for the love of Archie.
Rating: 6 /10
Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00