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Look Back: Archie Comics Shocks the World With a Wedding!
Brian Cronin
2021-07-06T08:57:34
This is "Look Back," a brand-new feature that I plan to do for at least all of 2019 and possibly beyond that (and possibly forget about in a week, who knows?). The concept is that every week (I'll probably be skipping the four fifth weeks in the year, but maybe not) of a month, I will spotlight a single issue of a comic book that came out in the past and talk about that issue in terms of a larger scale (like the series overall, etc.). Each week will be a look at a comic book from a different year that came out the same month X amount of years ago. The first week of the month looks at a book that came out this month ten years ago. The second week looks at a book that came out this month 25 years ago. The third week looks at a book that came out this month 50 years ago. The fourth week looks at a book that came out this month 75 years ago.
Let's get all of our Augusts done quickly!
We start with August 2009's Archie #600, by Michael Uslan, Stan Goldberg and Bob Smith, featuring Archie getting engaged to Veronica!
I've written in the past that so-called "anniversary issues" are a surprisingly modern invention. Don't get me wrong, in the 1940s, comic books would often mark on the cover when a comic hit 100 issues, but the stories inside did not have anything to do with the "anniversary" within. And even there, not all comic books even ACKNOWLEDGED the anniversary aspect of their issues. Archie, for instance, didn't acknowledge it for their 100th issue...
or their 200th issue...
Archie Comics (later just Archie from #114 on) was also a sort of bi-monthly title for MANY years (they would skip a few months a year,so they weren't always PRECISELY a bi-monthly book), so there is a large gap between #100 (somewhere in the late 1950s) and #200 (1970). By the time #300 rolled around in 1981, Frank Doyle, Dan DeCarlo Jr. (the son of the great Archie artist) and Rudy Lapick did, in fact, do an anniversary issue...
The concept is that everyone is planning an anniversary for Archie, but to pull off the surprise element, they have to hide it from him and he just thinks that everyone hates him all of a sudden...
1992 saw Archie #400, which also celebrated the anniversary aspect of the issue...
The great Bob Bolling wrote a really clever story for Stan Goldberg and Henry Scarpelli (the first of three straight anniversary issues drawn by Goldberg) that sort of went through the entire history of Archie's relationship with Betty and Veronica, going all the way back to his Little Archie days (Bolling, of course, was the famed creator of the Little Archie concept).
A more regular shipping schedule led to Archie #500 occurring just a little more than eight years later in 2000, with a script by Angelo Decesare and with Bob Smith now inking Goldberg.
This issue opens with the cast going on the Oprah Winfrey Show (well, a stand-in for Oprah) to celebrate the anniversary. Archie is late, since he is bringing 500 Archie comics to the show, and while they wait for him, all his friends and family remember how irritating he is and they all decide to storm out rather than celebrate Archie. However, when he crashes outside the studio and sends all of the comics flying all over his friends and family, they can't help but flip through the books and remember all the GOOD stuff that Archie has done over the years and how much of his irritating qualities come just from his haplessness and not from any ill intent. So they end up celebrating Archie anyways!
The second story also plays into the anniversary theme by having Veronica inform Archie that they're about to have their 500th date. However, Betty then tries to get him to go out with her on THEIR 500th date together. Archie, naturally, is in a jam for the 500th time. All throughout the issue, we get reminded that every instance is the 500th time it happened (Reggie's 500th dirty trick, Jughead's 500th free burger, Weatherbee's 500th detention slip, etc.) until Jughead comes up with a plan to save Archie from heartache (he just has to take a punch from Moose to do so)...
So that brings us to 2009 and the 600th issue of Archie.
Michael Uslan, the famed producer who brought Batman to the silver screen in 1989 (and has been credited on every Batman film ever since), is not someone that you normally associate with Archie Comics, but he explained to CBR back in 2009 that his connection to Archie had gone back to the early 1980s...
That same interview saw Uslan explain how he got the gig for this major issue...
In an interview at Comics Continuum, Uslan also explained his pitch for the storyline....
While I featured the actual wedding as the featured image, the 600th issue was really all about the PROPOSAL from Archie to Veronica...
The set-up for the storyline is that Archie walks UP Memory Lane and ends up walking into his future...
Something that Uslan makes a big point of in the storyline is to stress just how stressful this period is in Archie's life and how economics can't help but play a factor in it all...
It's when Archie's parents give him a financial gift that things change for Archie...
He proposes to Veronica, but sadly Betty just happened to be walking by at the time!
Jughead expresses what many people were thinking, that this really messed up Betty's life...
Here's the wedding issue, #601...
and here's the actual wedding...
Uslan stays true to the whole "Serious issues of relationships" by showing how much Archie is dedicated to proving Veronica's father wasn't wrong to give Archie a major job in the Lodge organization...
He's all stressed out and then he finds out that Veronica is pregnant!
The next issue deals with the birth of the kids and they all celebrate Christmas together (that issue came out a little before the Christmas season, which was an inspired bit by Uslan) and Archie decides to take a walk on Memory Lane again, only this time, he goes a different route...
And yes, sure enough, that leads to ANOTHER three issues where it is BETTY that Archie proposes to...
and Betty that he marries...
and Betty that he has kids with.
Reflecting on the event recently, Dan Parent and Uslan (who just came out with a 10th anniversary miniseries tying into the original event) discussed the importance of having Archie marry Veronica first...
Uslan, Goldberg and Smith then wrapped everything up with a story back in the present where Archie freaks out over the two futures that he saw and inadvertently makes dates with Betty and Veronica on the same night and we see that looking to the future too much can cause problems for your present...
Of course, Archie Comics would later capitalize on the popularity of this story by doing a new ongoing series that showed Archie's life in the two respective alternate universes and now, 10 years later, they're revisiting the concept in this anniversary miniseries by Uslan and Parent.
It really had a lasting impact. This storyline was also the last one that Stan Goldberg ever did in Archie. He continued to work for Archie Comics in other titles until his retirement circa 2012, but this was his last story in the main series. He passed away in 2014.
If you have any suggestions for September (or any other later months) 2009, 1994, 1969 and 1944 comic books for me to spotlight, drop me a line at [email protected]! Here is the guide, though, for the cover dates of books so that you can make suggestions for books that actually came out in the correct month. Generally speaking, the traditional amount of time between the cover date and the release date of a comic book throughout most of comic history has been two months (it was three months at times, but not during the times we're discussing here). So the comic books will have a cover date that is two months ahead of the actual release date (so October for a book that came out in August). Obviously, it is easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago was released, since there was internet coverage of books back then.
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