Comics – Woman Scorned

Archie-156.jpg
Writer: Frank Doyle*
Pencils: Harry Lucey*
Inking: Mario Acquaviva*
Colors: ?*
Letters: Mario Acquaviva*
Original Publication: Archie, No. 156
Cover Date: July, 1965
Length: 6 pages

*The original story had no credits. These credits come from Grand Comics Database.

I’m sorry that this is late.

Archie and Jughead are walking along a sidewalk. Archie’s explaining how he had to cancel a date with Betty. As he contrasts Betty’s calm attitude regarding it with what he thinks Veronica’s reaction to a broken date would be, he fails to see a tree falling behind him, a toy wagon full of rocks speeding toward him, and a flower pot falling from the sky right behind him. Jughead sees them, excuses himself, and runs off.

Jughead confronts Betty over her slapstick attempts to murder Archie. Well, not really. He confronts her over putting “an innocent bystander” (namely, himself) in harm’s way. Betty calls it “the fortunes of war”. She then gives this awesome line: “If you bystand in the target area, you’re bound to collect a few shell fragments!”

Jughead wonders why Betty’s suddenly this angry over a broken date, since Archie’s pulled this shit before. Betty is fucking enraged, lifting Jughead off his feet by the shirt. She says tonight’s broken date was the last straw. He tells her to take it easy. She lets him go but keeps screaming. He climbs a pole to get away from her. Warning Jughead of Archie’s impending death, Betty sends him off to pay his “last respects”.

Jughead finds Archie and warns him, but Archie doesn’t believe him, saying Betty “always comes around” after his bullshit. Jughead suggests Archie try to pacify her. Archie says he has a date with Veronica, but Jughead gives him a mental image of a gruesome death. Still not taking it seriously, Archie runs off to find Betty and “happy her up a bit”.

At home, Betty is ironing…in the kitchen. Fun detail: the Coopers don’t have chairs at their kitchen table; they have a restaurant-style booth. Oh, and there’s a goldfish bowl on the table.

Yeah, I don’t know either.

Anyway, Betty laments to herself that she’s a “born loser” for failing to get Archie and failing to kill him. Yeah, because nothing says “loser” like not being able to murder someone.

Anyway, Betty is swearing revenge to herself when Archie bursts in, excited. Betty tries to smash his face with her hot iron, but he tells her that their date’s back on.

Figuring he ditched Veronica (although I doubt it), Betty is suddenly elated and forgives Archie. So excited is she that she accidentally hits him in the face with her hot iron. Then she lifts him to his feet and makes him spin in circles with her in some kind of weird happy dance. During all of this, Betty fully admits to wanting to kill Archie.

She accidentally releases him, sending him crashing into the kitchen table. His head gets stuck in the goldfish bowl. The two goldfish somehow survive.

Later, Archie is recovering from his injuries in bed. Reasoning Betty is more dangerous when she’s happy, Archie reveals he called off their date again. He calls Betty a screwball. Jughead leaves to get out of the “target area”, confusing Archie.

Just then, Betty throws a boomerang into Archie’s bedroom in her latest attempt on his life.

What the fuck did I just read? This story blatantly portrays Betty as a murderous teen that can’t handle rejection. Yeah, I realize that’s an actual thing these days, but it’s surprising to find it in an Archie comic, particularly from over fifty years ago. One thing, though: what’s with all of the Wile E. Coyote traps? If Betty was at all competent, she’d lure Archie to a secluded spot with the promise of sex, get him drunk, and then stab him to death.

Tune in next Wednesday!

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Author: markmooreauthor

I love watching anime and superhero movies, and I love playing video games. I also write fan fiction and original fiction.

8 thoughts on “Comics – Woman Scorned”

  1. I wonder why Betty became so softened over the years?

    This is like learning Mario kidnapepd Apes in the Jumpman years!

    I sent a email, think you can check it out?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Q: “I wonder why Betty became so softened over the years?”
    A: BETTY AND ME #1 (April 1966)

    When Betty became the star of her own series, she had to become a more sympathetic character to readers. As a mere supporting character in ARCHIE, she could get away with bizarre behavior that wouldn’t fly when she became the main protagonist in her own series. Gradually incidences of the “psycho-Betty” type of story plot diminished and by five years or so after her series began, had virtually disappeared.

    The same is true of Veronica, whose outrageous behavior in 1970s and early 1980s stories is sometimes beyond the pale. That was okay in BETTY AND VERONICA, because the two contrasting characters balanced each other out, and neither one needed to carry the readers’ sympathies exclusively. But when Veronica became the star of her own series (April 1989), that began the process of softening her character to become more sympathetic. Presumably those readers who bought the comics were doing so because they *liked* the character who was the star of the book, so if the stories presented the star’s personality as unsympathetic to the readers, sales would drop and the title would be cancelled.

    Mark, you hit the nail on the head with the comparison of Betty in this story to Wile E. Coyote. Cartoon violence and mayhem is perceived differently than the same actions when placed within a realistic context. The Comics Code of 1954 specifically prohibits some of the things in this story. It reads, in part:

    CODE FOR EDITORIAL MATTER

    General standards—Part A

    (1) Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
    (2) No comics shall explicitly present the unique details and methods of a crime.
    (3) Policemen, judges, Government officials and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.
    (4) If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
    (5) Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.
    (6) In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished (sic) for his misdeeds.

    If the very same story were stripped of its slapstick comedy context and illustrated in a realistic style, it never would have passed the CCA censors. Archie Comics stories were probably not even read by the CCA censors, however — they probably just glanced over the artwork quickly for any obvious violations in the art (mainly cleavage or anything deemed too sexually suggestive) and then rubber-stamped an approval on the back of the pages. In this story, Betty’s attempted murder of Archie is NOT treated as “a sordid and unpleasant activity” nor is “the criminal punished for (her) misdeeds”. The real truth here is that the CCA review of Archie Comics’ stories was a mere formality — John Goldwater (publisher of ACP) was the one who led the crusade for the establishment of the CCA, and when the Comics Magazine Association of America Inc. was established in 1954, he became its first President, retaining that title for 25 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes sense.

      If Betty is the sole protagonist so she needs to be sympathetic to the audience, same with Veronica. Though then again Reggie’s softening never entirely stuck and he remained an entire hero/Wile E Coyote villain. I do know Archie is usually consistent on their being lines Reggie won’t cross though.

      I read quite a bit on the Comic’s code, I remember Catwoman and Joker were almost cut from the Silverage due to it, but they got retooled to fit the Silver Age, which was where Joker’s sense of humor originated!

      I didn’t know about that connection between the publisher and the Comic’s code thanks for that bit of info.

      By the way, do you have any thoughts on Jughead’s orientation? Though perhaps Mark might make a whole post on it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Q: By the way, do you have any thoughts on Jughead’s orientation? Though perhaps Mark might make a whole post on it?

        I have some thoughts, but his orientation is really relative to the particular time period of whatever Jughead story you’re examining. If Mark ever chooses to review one of the Trula Twyst stories from the late ’90s/early ’00s Craig Boldman/Rex Lindsey era of Jughead, I’ve given quite a bit of thought to what’s going on between those two.

        If you go back to the Jughead of 1987 to 1992, there’s a different orientation in effect for Jughead, and if you go even further back to the really early stories (circa early 1960s or earlier), there’s yet another orientation in effect for Jughead. It’s not really as simple as applying a standard label like “gay”, “straight”, or “asexual”.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I guess what I mean to say, is your personal preferred version of Jughead’s view on romance/the opposite sex.

        I like the Jughead who isn’t interested in dating girls, preferring other activities to romance like food and video games. After all, not every teenage boy is girl crazy. I preferred those actities myself as a teenager.

        I have recently read some of the old strips where Jughead outright dislikes all girls, bar his mother, to the point of verging into Misogyny territory.

        Personally I find that too far, especially nowadays.

        Though I have read on the Trula Twist stories with a whole club of girls scheming against Jughead, Jughead’s childhood sweetheart coming back resulting in a Jughead love triangle. Personally I think it makes Jughead to much like Archie and hurts his role as a reader surrogate.

        My favorite version of Jughead would be one who isn’t interested in romance, isn’t actively chased by a club of girls, hasn’t had significant others in the past, yet has nothing against women and whilst not sharing Ethel’s attraction, considers her a friend. Similarly he would have friendships with Betty, Veronica, Nancy, and the others.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. My POV of Jughead’s view on romance/the opposite sex is based on what I observe of Jughead’s value system. Paramount in importance to Jughead is his own individuality and self-determinism. He likes to think of himself as his own man, and not subject to what he sees as the weakness of being influenced by what other people think of him, or what other people value. He sort of has this ability to look at someone and see their exact weakness, how they can be influenced or what their Achilles’ Heel is: ARCHIE: Girl-crazy. REGGIE: Ego. VERONICA: What other people think of her. BETTY: Archie.

        Basically Jughead considers himself invulnerable and superior, that he doesn’t have any of these weaknesses. It’s kind of like when Jughead looks at someone, he sees a junkie, someone who can be easily manipulated if they become an annoyance to him. You might ask how is that any different than Jughead’s well-known weakness of being influenced by the offer of food, but he doesn’t see it that way. HE’s the one who decided to place a supreme value on the consumption of tasty food. A hamburger won’t try to influence the way he acts or dresses, tell him to get a job, or what kind of social behavior is expected of him. He refuses the outside influence of other people on his self-determined lifestyle, and that especially includes girls, because he’s seen what Archie will do because of them, and its a source of revulsion to him. Like I said, he considers himself above all that, and thus has the sort of self-satisfaction of believing he’s without any weaknesses. In a battle of wits, he sees anyone’s weakness and can defeat them through utilizing it. Girls in general just aren’t worth bothering with, because as he sees it, they always want something from you, so romance ranks pretty much at the bottom of his value system.

        Until Trula Twyst came along to challenge his mental superiority and turn his world topsy-turvy. Trula does to Jughead exactly what Juggie has always taken for granted as his innate ability to manipulate anyone else who troubles him, but he’s finally met more than his match in that arena. As a result, she scares him shitless over his own loss of control and composure, and is sure that’s she some sort of Machiavellian demoness in female form.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, and despite what the UGAG (United Girls Against Jughead) fear, that Jughead’s lifestyle choices and value system represent a pernicious influence on all other boys, Jughead doesn’t waste his time trying to convert anyone to his way of thinking. He knows it’s just a waste of his time, so he doesn’t bother.

      He genuinely LIKES Betty, but that’s not based on her sexual or romantic appeal as a girl, merely on an honest assessment of her traits as a human being; but especially in contrast to his assessment of other girls Archie dates like Veronica or Cheryl. He once told Archie in a story, “If you MUST bother with girls, Betty is clearly the superior choice.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “the Coopers don’t have chairs at their kitchen table; they have a restaurant-style booth.”

    Yeah, that was an actual thing. The terminology that applies is “breakfast nook” – an informal seating area conveniently located within or directly adjacent to the kitchen, suitable for everyday family meals. There’s a huge variation in the way that term can be applied aesthetically, but essentially, a little corner of the kitchen resembling casual family-style restaurant seating is where the concept originates — as opposed to the concept of a separate, more formal “dining room” suitable for entertaining guests. In the 1950s and 60s, the aesthetic really did trend more towards resembling an actual table or booth in a family-style restaurant. As the concept evolved in practice, homeowners’ sensibilities over the decades tended to move further away from the original aesthetic.

    Liked by 1 person

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