Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Multiversal Archie

I was never a big reader of Archie Comics. Somehow, when I was a kid, the high school hijinks just didn't appeal to me. Oh sure, I thought Betty and Veronica (as portrayed by Dan Decarlo and Stan Goldberg) were cute, but my interests in comics ran pretty much to super heroes. The things I did enjoy from Archie tended to be the weird, almost parallel universe stuff. The kid versions of the Riverdale cast in Little Archie. Archie as super spy The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. Archie as Superhero Pureheart the Powerful. Jughead as Time Police agent. Stuff that didn't fit into the regular continuity of the teenage adventures of Archie Andrews. Or did it?
The new Archie:The Married Life Magazine features two Parallel Universe stories in each issue. In one story, Archie is married to Betty Cooper and in the other he's married to Veronica Lodge. The magazine is a follow up to two very successful mini-series, Archie Marries Betty and Archie Marries Veronica. Both stories are set sometime in the future when Archie has graduated high school and both feature the future lives of the gang from Riverdale. Some elements are the same in both stories. Jughead is preparing to buy Pop's diner. Big Moose has anger management issues and has broken up with longtime girlfriend Midge. Other elements vary. Betty's Archie is trying to make it as a singer. Veronica's Archie has taken job with father in-law Mr. Lodge's company. In both universes, Mr. Lodge is something of a villain.
But the most interesting aspect of the first issue of the new magazine for me was the disappearance of Dilton Doiley. A newspaper headline in the Archie/Betty story announces that scientist Dilton (once the resident nerd at Riverdale High) has disappeared shortly after claiming that parallel universes exist. A full page collage shows Dilton in the middle of images of the various incarnations of Archie Andrews. Pureheart, Little Archie, The New Look Archie, and more. The implication seems to be that all these versions of Archie are valid in alternate realities. Pretty heady SF stuff for an Archie comic, eh?
Anyway, toward the end of the story, Archie ends up in an out of the way diner where he runs into the grown up version of 'Little Ambrose", a character who only appeared in the Little Archie comic and hasn't been a part of the Archie teenage continuity. A few panels later we see Professor Dilton Doiley is outside the diner, observing the meeting. So what's going on here? Are the various Archie universes merging? Is Dilton traveling between dimensions and is that why he vanished? I dunno, but I think it will be fun to find out. I'm glad that Cliff pointed this magazine out to me, because otherwise I'd have passed up on some fun comics reading.


Brett Brooks said...

Yeah, I was very pleasantly surprised by this series. I didn't get it right away, either, until Cliff mentioned to me that it was new material and not a reprint of the older story. I've been waiting for the second issue for too long now. :)

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Yep, nice to know even long time fans like us can find something new and fun.