Almost two years ago, Archie Comics gave Betty & Veronica "realistic" makeovers that got them lots of media attention and elicited much commentary amongst the blogosphere, mostly consisting of varying opinions concerning whether or not one would, in fact, "hit that".
Amidst the manufactured outrage concerning the destruction of Dan DeCarlo's legacy and questioning the wisdom of teenage girls wearing such extreme amounts of eye makeup, we were promised an exciting all new story that would match the "realism" of the artwork. And as the bad boy Nick St. Clair moves to Riverdale, causing trouble in a juvenile-delinquinty fashion and catching the eye of the ever-fickle Veronica, Archie Comics readers settled in to enjoy this all-new experience.
But.... how "new" was this "Bad Boy Trouble"? Could there be evidence of a pre-"New Look" Nick St. Clair causing trouble as only a bad boy can? In a recent archeo-bibliographical dig somewhere in the Great Lakes region, we uncovered startling evidence of "Bad Boy Trouble"... before there WAS "Bad Boy Trouble"!
Exhibit A: BAD NEWS BOYFRIEND, part of the ARCHIE RIVERDALE HIGH series, written by Michael J. Pellowski, published by Hollywood Books, a division of Walt Disney Book Publishing Group (!!) in 1991, ISBN 1-56282-108-3. Wow, check out that cover. Sure looks like it might be similar to "Bad Boy Trouble", doesn't it? But no! Surely Archie Comics wouldn't stoop to re-using a fifteen year old novel as the springboard for their exciting new look! Would they? Let's find out.
Here on page one we find out that Betty is not the kind of girl who blows her cool easily (always a plus) and she doesn't mind that her pal Veronica has a staff of hired domestics to wait on her hand and foot.
And if we flash forward to 2007, "Bad Boy Trouble" features Betty thinking she's not jealous of the fact that her pal Veronica.. has a staff of hired domestics... to wait on her... hand and foot. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
The 1991 novel is helpfully illustrated, so we get a good long look at Nick St. Clair (great soap opera name, BTW) showing off his high-top fade mullet and introducing himself to Midge, Betty, and Veronica at the movie theater.
However, in "Bad Boy Trouble", the 1991 douchebag-signifying mullet has been replaced by its 2007 equivalent, the soul patch. I suppose it works to pick up spoiled rich girls at the movie theater - but ONLY in conjunction with the motorcycle. Soul patch + Mom's station wagon, not so much.
If you read all 4 issues of "Betty & Veronica Double Digest" - and I know you did, be honest - you know that Veronica begins a shameful downward behavioral spiral under the influence of Nick St. Clair. He's turned Riverdale High upside down with his sullen bad-boy antics! Betty takes it upon herself to use her feminine wiles against Nick and show Veronica what a two-timing heel that bad boy really is. In 1991 this is indicated by kneesocks and the casually knotted sweater, but 2007 is a different story.
Seduction, Archie Comics style, circa 2007: the come-hither look, lots of hand gestures, and a tight t-shirt with the letter "B" prominently displayed. And bling. This is a side of Betty we don't normally see, usually thanks to aggressive legal action on the part of Archie Comics. Will Betty's plan work, or will she be forced to spend an evening with Nick St. Clair and his soul patch?
Luckily Betty's devious scheme succeeds, and in 1991 this means an illustration of what appears to be a particularly emotional PTA meeting. Seriously, there are no visible teenagers on this page.
And in 2007 this means more tearful computer colored embraces. And detention. But nowhere a mention of Michael J. Pellowski or his original novel on which this "all new" story was based. Well, you can't hide the truth, Archie Comics! Your "new look" characters couldn't disguise this re-purposed "Bad Boy" storyline. But hey, recycling is all the rage these days, who are we to say that they shouldn't dust off an old script and give it a new airing? After all, the intended audience wasn't even born when it was published. It's only arrested-developmental goofballs such as ourselves who even bother to take notice. And seriously, I have no problem with the "new look", just as long as they don't turn Jughead into some kind of creepy looking ....
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