Relationship Drama Reaches New Levels In Archie #26

by James Ferguson

Betty Cooper may be on the path to recovery after a car accident put her in a wheelchair, but the opposite can be said for the relationships around her. When Veronica overhears a conversation between her boyfriend Archie and his life long pal–and ex-girlfriend–Betty, she takes it out of context and goes on the offensive. Amidst all of this drama, Dilton makes a move for Betty’s hand. If you thought love triangles were tough, just wait until you see what Archie #26 has in store.

Although the drama between Veronica, Betty, and Archie is riveting, it’s Dilton’s story that proves more compelling. He’s a minor character in this world and he knows it. Despite how much he cares about Betty, he’ll never be the one she wants to be with…or will she? With some help from some friends, Dilton finally gets the courage to put his feelings out there in an emotional and heartfelt scene.
What’s encouraging about Dilton’s perspective is how it’s not one of entitlement. Toni chastises him before he can use the term “friend zone,” pointing out the flaw in that logic. Dilton clarifies his meaning and shows how he really feels about the quintessential girl next door.

This happens at the same time as Archie and Veronica have a deep talk about their relationship. Writer Mark Waid bounces between the two conversations as if they’re the same one. It makes for a tension-filled read as we have no idea what could happen next. The issue ends in a cliffhanger with both conversations in the lurch.
The drama is high in Archie #26 but there is still a healthy dose of comedy. This comes through in many sight gags from artist Audrey Mok. For example, while Dilton and Toni are having their talk, Moose is in the background whizzing around on a moped. He’s doing some crazy stunts including a backflip. We don’t know how he can accomplish these things, but it doesn’t matter. That’s part of the charm of this book.

It wouldn’t be an Archie comic if it didn’t have the signature “HOW?” moment showing Archie in a ridiculous situation. This one is pretty great and equally puzzling. How is this guy so accident prone? And how does he get into these crazy positions?
While Mok excels at the comedic moments, it’s the personal beats that raise Archie to new heights. There are some panels featuring just a glance between two characters that carries such weight. You can feel the chemistry at work as old loves are rekindled and new ones blossom.

There is so much emotion at work in Archie. It’s no wonder there’s a hit TV show based on this franchise. The comic is just as compelling, if not more so. I’m so pulled into these characters’ lives.
Archie #26 is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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