Oct 292011
 

Veronica #209 (Kevin Keller #3)Veronica #209 (Kevin Keller #3)

Written by: Dan Parent
Art by: Dan Parent

The third issue of Kevin Keller’s four-issue miniseries shifts focus to Kevin’s new life at Riverdale High, where he’s been tapped by Dilton to represent the school on a high school TV quiz show. Unfortunately for Kevin, there’s one problem: he’s nervous about speaking in public… not helped by his memories (told in flashback) of being teased constantly by a bully in junior high and a disastrous school speech. The issue ends on a bit of a cliffhanger involving the (former?) bully appearing in the present.

Another enjoyable installment. We learn that Kevin’s got an interest in history, and some interest in politics as well (he mentions having read the book “Game Change“). Also liked the references to “Jeopardy!” (the Watson computer appearing, called “Webster” here), as well as a reference to rival comic company DC (Jonah Hex).

Per my earlier remark about possibly using some of the “new kids” for Kevin’s solo series (or using one of them as Kevin’s possible date), a few of them appear in this issue—long-haired Danny and school newspaper photographer Chloe. *Not* appearing in this issue however, despite appearing on the cover (the alternate cover to the one I used for this post) is Chuck Clayton, though to be fair, Reggie also doesn’t appear in this issue.

The next and final issue will feature Kevin running for class president… and presumably this issue’s cliffhanger being resolved.

Aug 202011
 

Veronica #208 (Kevin Keller #2)Veronica #208 (Kevin Keller #2)

Written by: Dan Parent
Art by: Dan Parent

The second issue of Kevin’s miniseries sees more revealed about the Keller family’s past. While planning a surprise birthday party for Kevin’s father, Veronica (and the readers) learn about several of the places the Keller family previously lived, including England, France, and several other towns in the US (that, as I noted in the previous review, are real-world towns along the east coast, near New York). Kevin is shown dealing with life as an “army brat,” with his father being away for months at a time. Part of how he deals with the long stretches is cute: writing stories where Little Kevin imagines himself as Superboy, protecting his family from various threats while Dad’s away. (Well, Superboy or whoever the Archie “celebrity stand-in” would be—though I’ve read one “Little Archie” story where young Arch becomes “Little Captain Pureheart”…)

The story also touches on Kevin’s high school years pre-Riverdale, with scenes showing Kevin dealing with bullying/teasing classmates (something I experienced too often in school, unfortunately), and helping another student who’s being bullied. No indication if the other student (named Sidney) is gay as well, though I noticed the line “it gets better” is used by Kevin (possible reference to the anti-bullying-of-gay youth campaign?). How Kevin deals with Sidney’s bullies at one point involves the sort of stunt that Reggie would pull. There’s also another scene showing more of Kevin’s writing goals, as he’s attempting to write a book about his father.

Unrelated to Kevin, but we get one amusing visual gag involving Jughead’s nose. Heh. On an also-odd note: the entertainment trope of somebody taking a photograph of someone in an embarrassing state is seen here (Veronica finds an old photo of Kevin with a black eye, of all the odd times to photograph someone). Apparently fictional characters are shutterbug-crazy, though given the rise of cell phone cameras taking photos/videos of real-world embarrassing incidents, maybe it isn’t so far-fetched anymore…

I look forward to the third issue of this storyline, where it sounds like we’ll get to see more of Kevin’s modern-day life in Riverdale.

Mar 222011
 

LGBT media watchdog group GLAAD’s announced its winners in this year’s award show. For the category of “outstanding comic,” the winner this year is Peter David’s “X-Factor,” one of the (875) monthly X-Men-related titles.

I was hoping for “Veronica” to win, given it’s broken ground by being a comic mainly aimed at children/preteens with a positive gay character introduced. Still, it’s nice (if unusual) to see an Archie title just get nominated nominated…

Nov 222010
 

Veronica and Betty magazine coverArchie’s “turning it up to 11″ in 2011! (Yeah, I know, but I need something to replace the soon-to-end 2010 “year we make contact” puns/bide time until I can make “end of the world in 2012″ jokes) Or in this case, Archie Comics is coming out with a second magazine next year to go along with its successful “Life With Archie” magazine, a new title called “Veronica and Betty.”

In the new title, Betty and Veronica are both enlisted as foreign exchange students, and set off on a travel adventure away from Riverdale. Meanwhile, Riverdale High gets in turn two foreign exchange students, who get Archie’s attention (and vice-versa).

I can see the advantage of expanding to a second magazine. While the Archie digests are pretty widespread in supermarkets and newsstands, magazines would allow Archie an even bigger presence in stores. I’ve seen “Life With Archie” carried at my neighborhood Walgreens (which normally doesn’t carry any comics), as well as the supermarket. It’d also allow Archie to publish a magazine set in the “mainstream” Archie universe, and thus more closely tie into the rest of their books, versus “Life”‘s future settings.

One observation about the magazine’s title: “Veronica and Betty?” I wonder why they decided to give Veronica top-billing, given for decades it’s always been “Betty and Veronica” (akin to how you wouldn’t find “The Brain and Pinky,” or “Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone”). Johanna at Comics Worth Reading suggests it’s to differentiate the magazine from the various comics/digests named “Betty and Veronica.” Perhaps so, though still seems a bit unusual to see the two’s names reversed. On the other hand, it did make for this amusing gag-cover.

Apr 232010
 
From the looks of the article, it’s not a hoax, not a dream, and not an imaginary story… an actual gay character will be appearing in an upcoming Archie comic, specifically Veronica #202 (released September 21). The story sounds like it treats his sexuality respectfully (plot basically being he’s a handsome guy who’s new to Riverdale that Veronica hits on, but doesn’t know he’s gay—but his new friend Jughead does…).

Given that American children’s media seems to be the “final frontier” for any type of gay characters (since non-hetero characters are apparently deemed as “not suitable for children” for American media, per the flap over Postcards From Buster some years ago), and given Archie’s conservatism by modern media standards, this comes as quite a surprise. I’ll note that those us at Archie’s panel at C2E2 last weekend were given zero inkling of this; the announced upcoming projects included more of the Archie marries Betty/Veronica alternate-futures, Jersey Shore and Twilight parodies, and revivals of 60s stalwarts Pureheart the Powerful (Archie’s superhero identity) and The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. (Archie as a spy).

Archie characters have made a mark before in the diversity side of things—1970′s Josie and the Pussycat‘s Valerie was American TV’s first non-stereotyped Black female animated character, as far as I can tell…

Of course, note I said gays seem to be personas non grata in American children’s media. Far as I can tell, Canadian children’s media, judging from 6Teen, seem fine with showing or making reference to gays (to the point that Cartoon Network in the US crudely dubs over any use of the word “gay” in the episodes it airs here)…

More info on this comic:
Jughead Ditches Archie For a Gay BFF | AfterElton.com