This Is Not My Beautiful House (And Other Concerns) – an Archie #8 review
Story by: Mark Waid
Art by: Veronica Fish
Colors by: Andre Szymanowicz & Jen Vaughn
Lettering by: Jack Morelli
The spotlight is back on Archie Andrews himself this month in Archie #8, specifically the continued navigation of his relationship with Veronica Lodge while her father hates his guts. It’s never easy being the subject of parental disapproval, especially a significant other’s parent and especially when they’re someone as powerful and stubborn as Mr. Lodge, so Archie and Veronica have been trying to continue dating in secret even as Mr. Lodge throws obstacle after obstacle in their way.
Family is a strong theme in this issue, both Veronica’s and Archie’s, the latter of which we finally “meet” in more depth; we see Mr. Lodge and Mr. Andrews compared and contrasted – though mostly contrasted – both as parents and as people, which makes for an interesting frame around a chapter that is very much about relationships. Mark Waid very seamlessly conveys the warm and supportive environment in the Andrews family against the ambitious and stubborn Lodges, which we of course see reflected and united in the romance between Archie and Veronica; they may be different but they offer each other something new and interesting, and they both barely seem to even have to make an effort to stay open-minded about the other. Veronica may be somewhat stuck-up and judgmental, but again and again we see her showing interest in relating to her classmates and boyfriend, talking to them about their hobbies and generally giving the impression of a sincere investment in learning more about them. Frankly, at least around other people, she’s been written as far less of a “mean girl” than some of the other semi-regular female members of the cast, which is not so much a fault or criticism on how Veronica is written – by any means – but a sign that we are really overdue for some more panel time, focus, and consistency for characters like Sheila Wu and Maria Rodriguez.
Hopefully once the narrative turns back a little bit to Betty and her new budding relationship with Sayid – about whom we also know almost nothing – we’ll get further insight into her friends, as well; given the way Betty and Sayid have been lurking in the background as an inscrutable but still visible presence, it seems like a story we should expect to hear more about very soon. Still, Betty and Sayid are included among the relationships that Archie #8 shows us, and then of course, there’s Archie and Jughead. Having just been on the outs a couple issues prior, we’re reminded this issue just how close and compatible Archie and Jughead are, how much they mean to and care about each other. They’re very understandably crushed by the prospect of being separated when Mr. Lodge gives Archie’s dad a job that requires a move to Singapore, and Jughead very maturely (or at the very least, respectfully) doesn’t blame Veronica this time.
My very favorite panel of the issue is a gorgeous wide-shot of Archie and Jughead sitting in a park, where they sit beside each other on a bench for the rest of the page, closely followed by Archie and Veronica’s kiss on the last page and the subtle pair of panels where Betty and Sayid briefly touch hands while Archie looks on. Veronica Fish has uncanny storytelling abilities and has stricken a perfect balance in visual tone that can truly elevate a moment, whether comedic or serious, based on expression, on body language, and/or panel and page composition. Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn similarly continue to add another breathtaking level to Fish’s strong lineart and layouts, flawlessly capturing and bringing to further life the mood of the page or the moment – the reason my aforementioned favorite panels stood out to me so strongly was thanks to how beautifully the colors married the lines.
This was a very sweet issue, and while the dilemma and resolution did seem a bit rushed, this issue reads more as a bridge between storylines rather than specifically the beginning to a new one, although I’m sure there’s hints as to what we might be able to expect next: personally, I’m hoping for Betty and Sayid. I did love seeing more development between Archie and Veronica, however, and am pretty interested in all the little plot hooks and dynamic shifts this issue gave us – here’s hoping Mr. Lodge has a little more nuance to him in future issues, now that at least one hurdle in Archie and Veronica’s way has been vaulted.