Writer: Jamie Lee Rotante
Art: Sanya Anwar
Colors: Elaina Unger
Letters: Rachel Deering
Original Publication: Betty & Veronica: Vixens, No. 10
Cover Date: November, 2018
On-Sale Date: September 26, 2018
Length: 18 pages
Before the story, there’s a recap of the previous issue on the credits page.
Sanya Anwar is back on art for the final issue.
Let’s get into it:
A crowd of people (probably mostly females) gather on a street in downtown Riverdale, hold signs, and chant in support of the Vixens. Of note, I can clearly recognize Ginger Lopez and Harper Lodge (Veronica’s wheelchair-bound cousin), who otherwise hadn’t appeared in this series until now. That might or might not be Josie McCoy standing behind Ginger.
People watch a news report on a TV in the window of a store (side note: LOL at the small, old-fashioned TV on sale for $50). RTV reporter Bobbi Suarez reports live just outside Riverdale, where a devastating explosion has decimated the abandoned Pickens Civil War Cabin on Crystal Lake, which was set to become a historical landmark. Doc’s been arrested. All of the captured women have been found and returned to safety. An anonymous source (who provided video footage) reveals the Vixens’ involvement and their identities; Betty, Midge, Ethel, Toni, Veronica (the leader), and Cheryl are outed as Vixens. Cheryl isn’t on the video, but she’s represented on the newscast through the use of an autographed photo of her in her cheerleading outfit. The girls’ whereabouts are currently unknown. Before we move on, a side note: Riverdale’s local station is usually called WRIV.
The ladies are hanging out in a field somewhere, watching the sunset or sunrise. Eve, bored, asks the “babes” if they’re done sight-seeing yet. She, Betty, Veronica, Ethel, Midge, and Toni are the only clearly-identifiable people in this scene. There’s no sign of Cheryl.
There’s a boom, which gets their attention. Is it thunder? Who knows? Toni asks Ethel if she still wants to sleep. Ethel refuses. The girls mount their bikes and ride off.
On the road, they come across another all-girl biker gang, and it turns out that they’re friendly to the Vixens.
One month later, at Riverdale High School, on the last day of school, Reggie asks the “suckers” about their summer plans. Archie doesn’t have much planned. Reggie guesses Archie’s still moping over Betty and Veronica, but Reggie’s moved on. Nancy misses them and tells Reggie to shut the fuck up. Archie and Reggie talk a bit more, and Reggie’s glad that Betty and Veronica didn’t get Nancy all caught up in their mess. Oh, yeah, Chuck has a silent cameo in this scene.
Later, Nancy is walking around downtown. A white guy in a car harasses her, and she takes a camera out of her bag and takes an old-fashioned Polaroid of him, temporarily blinding him. Do they even make those kind of cameras anymore? And why does Nancy have one?
She goes to Ambrose Mechanics. Ambrose lets her in and says “They’re upstairs.” Nancy goes upstairs and into a room. Harper says she knew Nancy would show up eventually.
It turns out that she, Ginger, Harper, and Brigitte Reilly are keeping a watch on the neighborhood watch. Nancy hands over the photo of a guy that’s been on a power trip, and Ginger adds it onto the “Wall of Shame”.
Harper is basically the Oracle of the group, handling their Internet operations. She sends out mass e-mails. Brigitte checks their message board. Ambrose comes in with drinks and offers to help, but they’ve got it covered. This is their safe space. He misses Bubbles, and he’s offering his services because of her. Ginger tries to assure him that she’s fine. She wonders where the Vixens are.
One month later, the Vixens are riding through Milwaukee. Through Betty’s narration, we learn they were surprised to meet so many like-minded individuals. She also immediately contradicts the one month later time placement, since it’s been only one month since they left Riverdale, and there had already been a time jump of one month just a few pages earlier. Anyway, the ladies love every minute of their summer on the open road.
A map shows the girls’ cross-country journey (without going through Milkwaukee). Riverdale seems to be on the New York – New Jersey border. Anyway, they do various charitable things along the way: building houses, putting up puppies and kittens for adoption (this seems to be the only appearance of Cheryl), running a toy drive, and lecturing bullies. They wanted their message to be one of positive change.
Betty says a few of them even decided to stick around some of the states that they visited, and Betty can’t blame them, but she admits they get a little homesick. At the Port of San Francisco, she, Veronica, Midge, Ethel, and Toni hang out. A little girl comes up to them, knowing Veronica and Betty’s names. The Vixens are “kind of” her heroes.
She brings up a video on her tablet. In the interview for RTV, Ginger says they want to continue the work that the Vixens started. They’ve started a collective to connect young women “and those who identify as such”. They offer advice, helpful tips, and safe spaces. They meet up every Wednesday at Pop’s to brainstorm. The town has been incredibly supportive of their efforts. Even Mr. Weatherbee is involved. Ginger concludes by saying this wouldn’t have happened without the Vixens.
The video continues with a message of support for Betty from Hal and Alice Cooper. The unnamed mayor (possibly Elena Martinez from 2012’s “Occupy Riverdale” story in Archie, No. 635) says Hiram Lodge announced the dismantling of the neighborhood watch committee. Hiram announces Hermione is forming a new committee to fulfill the needs of everyone. Hermione briefly talks about it but then addresses Veronica, saying she and Hiram miss her terribly. Hiram says they’re glad that Veronica is their daughter, admits he was wrong, and says the Vixens are welcome back in Riverdale any time.
Once the video ends, the girl asks the Vixens where they’re going next. Betty and Midge look at each other. Veronica says “Home.”
During sunset or sunrise, as the girls ride, Midge asks what comes next. Toni suggests summer school like she’s not sure, but I’m pretty sure they flunked all of their classes, and summer school ain’t gonna help them. Anyway, Veronica asks what then. Betty says “Senior year.” The Vixens ride into Riverdale. The end.
Before I get into the story, here’s the extras. After the story is a one-page cover gallery for this issue and another Riverdale Gazette article (dated September of 2018); this one features two roller derby teams, Southern Harm Derby Dames of South Atlanta, GA, and Coal Miners’ Daughters of Gillette, WY. Jamie Lee Rotante thanks the readers and looks forward to “next time” (meaning her new Betty & Veronica series, which will apparently be a five-issue miniseries). Finally, there’s an ad for the Vixens Volume Two trade paperback.
I think this issue felt way too rushed. Then again, it was doomed to be that way, considering it had to wrap everything up. Being only 18 pages long certainly didn’t help, and there were a few pages where not much happened, so better use of space could have been made. Cheryl got lost somewhere along the way (did she stay behind in one of those states?), despite being prominently featured on the front cover. So did Eve. Bubbles didn’t even appear.
I think this series would have worked better in an episodic, rather than serial, format. We basically got two storylines over ten issues, which took ten months to come out. Rather than dragging things out, have each issue be mostly self-contained; simply let the overall threat and stakes escalate from issue to issue without being tied to one storyline.
Another approach would be been to do a series of pulp novels, released cheaply as e-books and a bit more expensive for POD physical copies. Even one novel would have been able to go into more depth than this comic series, which totals 192 comic pages.
There seem to have been problems behind the scenes after issue #5. Jen Vaughn replaced Eva Cabrera on art for #6 and #7. Then Vaughn was replaced by Sanya Anwar for #8; Anwar was already credited in the solicitation for #9, except Eva Cabrera returned to do the interior art. Then Anwar came back for the final issue. Also, Elaina Unger needed help from Matt Herms coloring the art on issues #7 and #9. Add to all of that the occasional issue (even before #6) that began with a page that seemingly had nothing to do with the story (suggesting the script ran short, so some unused cover art was stuck in to boost the page count), and everything feels kind of clunky.
Still, overall, I enjoyed the series. It seems to be in continuity with the upcoming Betty & Veronica miniseries (which, being explicitly set during senior year and dealing with graduation, is perhaps set outside “normal” continuity, not that it really matters). I look forward to seeing what the girls do next!