Previously in Archie #16
As the second arc of the reimagined series comes to an end, our titular character is but a minor player in the ongoing battle of the trust fund babies. Thanks to Hiram Lodge’s acquisition of the Blossoms’ media conglomerate, Cheryl and her brother Jason now reside in Riverdale and are eager to seek revenge against Lodge by destroying the town Veronica calls home. Like the masterful tactician Sun Tzu (or to a lesser extent, any of the PLLs), Cheryl has all the intel she needs to turn her friends and, most especially, her beloved Archibald Andrews against her. Rather than crank her vindictiveness up to eleven, Ms. Blossom decides to kill them with kindness.
For most of issue seventeen Archie greedily accepts Cheryl’s gifts, never once showing interest in discovering the identity of his secret admirer. It’s obvious that Riverdale is supposed to be a fairly laid back, peaceful hamlet where everyone knows your name… but you’re not going to wonder who is dropping off an expensive guitar inside your garage? Does anyone lock their front doors in this universe? Shouldn’t this be a concern? Personally, if someone mailed me tickets for a ball game and paid for my meals knowing which diner I frequent, you best believe a security system will be installed on my property the next day. And if some random number texted me repeatedly, I’m screencapping everything and doing a reverse number look-up!
While Arch is having the time of his life thanks to Cheryl, Ronnie attempts to complete her semester at the Lycee early to fly back to Riverdale and save her pals from the Blossom twins. Of course her best laid plans had to suffer a snag in the form of Mr. Collier, the battleaxe of a teacher who was shamed during Riverdale’s mayoral race. In case you forgot, he’s also Betty’s uncle. Yeah. Awkward. Quite aware of Veronica’s desire to return to the States, Collier throws a wrench in Lodge’s plans by giving her a seemingly impossible assignment. It’s slightly understandable that Collier would still be salty after the controversy in issue 10; Ronnie did record the video Hiram’s campaign manager used to besmirch Collier’s character. Nevertheless, he’s an old man and should know better. She’s a teenager who recently learned that friendship and trust matter more than ‘likes’ and brand recognition.
It’s funny how Veronica Lodge had become the most dynamic personality in Archie. It’s a refreshing turn for a character who was always portrayed as indignant and spendthrift rather than intrepid and self-effacing. True, the old Ronnie has popped up every now and then however it’s not her entire being. Money doesn’t make her entire world go ’round. After every damaging mistake she’s made either to herself or others, Veronica has come back stronger and more capable to accept any challenge. At this moment it’s Cheryl, who comes off as a pale imitation of Lodge’s former self.
By issue’s end, one almost wonders if Veronica has grown beyond dopey Archie. Granted, he taught her the value of companionship and making the most out of every moment. On the other hand, Andrews was easily swayed by Cheryl’s lures. Veronica does appreciate Archie for helping her open her eyes to the beauty of the world yet he hasn’t exactly grown much since Ronnie’s unexpected departure to Switzerland.
In any case, Veronica is back and ready to take on Cheryl and Jason! For all their petulance and terrible acts of vandalism, their frustrations are entirely misguided: The Lodges aren’t directly responsible for their current predicament by their own father, who cut off their inheritance. Things are going to become more complicated than ever with the terrible twosome in Riverdale. Ironically, the former outsider who once abhorred her pals’ provincial lifestyles will likely be the one who saves them.