Sunday, December 6, 2015

Betty Cooper: Girl Wonder

The second issue of the new (and possibly improved) 21st Century Archie focuses on Betty Cooper. The hopeless underdog of the classic comics is reinvented and made to be a tomboy, mechanic, complete badass. No wonder she was always my favourite – I always knew she had it in her. Mark Waid and Fiona Staples take the idea of Betty as Archie’s pal and confidant from the classic comic, and transform her into the ultimate ”friend-zoned” character. They illustrate her as the polar opposite of who Veronica Lodge is, and use various types of narration to help in building exactly who Betty Cooper is, and who she has the ability to be.

21st Century feminists will be happy to see Betty stand up for herself when Trevor assumes a sexual relationship with her; we read this in the exclamations overtop Betty’s head, with the emenada steam coming out of her ears, and her eventual toss-out of Trevor with the spiked word-bubble indicating anger.

The illustrations of Betty, with her body language, and grunginess is one way of monstrating her totally casual persona; however, her casualness may have been the indicator for Trevor that she was only in the mood for a fling. Unfortunately, much of the time easy-going people are seen as the open relationship type but Betty is not a force to be reckoned with.

Even the strongest of girls can fall, and Betty succumbs to traditional female standards at the hands of her friend Sheila. Betty’s actions are crucial in understanding the next series of panels, and Fiona Staples more than delivers with her close-up panel shots of Betty’s transformation along with her full-body image, illustrating the pain of wearing heels.

The images that stuck out to me are the 3 that seem to parallel each other. At the end of Betty’s transformation, I noticed that we get a headshot of her looking in a glared mirror; this picture is glared, glossy, and seems as altered as she is.   
We do get two other framed pictures of Betty, and those are the ones where she is enclosed in the windowpane. Both times where she is found in the frame, she is her truest self.

Even in the second one, when she is covered in makeup, she is also covered in oil after fixing Archie’s beat-up car (some things just never change – I think it’s time for a new car, Arch). The windowpane panel offers the reader a direct look at Betty, unedited, not shiny but raw and real.


Now if only they’d tell us what this damn #LipstickIncident is that broke up my favourite couple!

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