Though the characters starring in Archie comics have been pop cultural icons for nearly 80 years, Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica are going through something of a renaissance thanks the CW’s Riverdale series and Archie Comics’ catalog of ongoing comic books.
But while the Riverdale gang’s been busy introducing a new generation to the joys of Lynchian episodic television, Archie Comics has been thoughtfully reimagining its mainstays in ways that explore new parts of their identities. Archie’s survived a zombie apocalypse, Jughead’s become a werewolf, and Riverdale itself has been rocked by the arrival of DC’s Poison Ivy & Harley Quinn. With each of these stories and their discrete continuities, Archie Comics has widened the definition of what kind of narratives it wants to deal in and, in doing so, demonstrated just how versatile and dynamic its characters are.
The publisher’s continuing in this new tradition of revamping classic characters with Betty & Veronica: Vixens, a new series written by Jamie L. Rotante with illustrations from artist Eva Cabrera, colorist Elaina Unger letterer Rachel Deering. Though Betty & Veronica have been dealing with demons and super villains lately, Vixens brings them face to face with their longtime enemies the Southside Serpents and follows as the girls decide to form a biker gang of their own.
In its own way, Vixens’ premise is a wild break in form for both of Riverdale’s queen bees, but when io9 recently spoke with Rotante via e-mail, she explained how the series is really a celebration of aspects of Betty and Veronica’s identities that have always been there in one way or another. It’s just that with Vixens, they’re being brought to the fore. Check out our full interview with Rotante below, alongside a preview of the issue!
io9: Where do these takes on Betty and Veronica fall on the spectrum between the classic characters we’ve seen in Archie comics and the versions of them we see on Riverdale?
Jamie L. Rotante: I’d say this is a solid halfway point between the two. In terms of personality, these characters are very reminiscent of their classic selves, but they’re treading into territory more akin to Riverdale and even the Archie Horror books. You’ll also see a lot of familiar classic Archie Comics characters that have appeared in Riverdale, but their roles in Vixens will be very different.
Talk to me about this Betty’s interior self. There’s this part of her that’s revealed towards the end of the first issue that suggests there’s a lot about herself that she’s kept hidden from her friends and family. Aside from restoring her father’s motorcycle, what other sort of elements of her personality’s she been hiding?
Rotante: Betty’s everyone’s favorite girl-next-door, she’s always been. And that’s still very true in Vixens, but there’s so much more to her personality. We know she has an affinity for cars and restoring older models—the same is true for motorcycles. She also has a desire to be more of a leader and prove that she can take charge—that’s going to be an ongoing battle for her. And as you can see in issue #1, she also wants to explore her more dangerous side instead of being left out of the fun stuff in favor of only being asked for help with homework.
Betty and Veronica’s relationship has always been at its most interesting when it arcs a little more towards frienemy territory, but the two of them seem fairly chill with one another when we first meet them in Vixens. How would you describe their friendship?
Rotante: Vixens is definitely more about them being more of friends than frenemies. It focuses on the dichotomy of their personalities, and how their differences balance each other out. Of course conflicts will arise—as they do for any teenage friendships—but they’ll be on more ideological levels. No fighting over Archie here!
There’s an interesting contrast between the old-fashioned trappings and culture of a town like Riverdale and a decidedly modern story that Betty & Veronica’s Vixens is trying to tell. How did you go about striking that balance?
Rotante: I think the contrast is key—much like in Riverdale, it’s all about the darkness brewing below the surface. Also, some of the old-fashioned trappings that people associate with Archie provide the perfect framework for the growth of these characters.
How would you describe the book’s feminism?
Rotante: It has a very modern sensibility. It’s about young women using the tools they have to succeed to join forces and work together—and what they don’t know they learn from each other. It also deals with many of them refusing to be defined by where they come from, their significant others or their social status.
Ultimately, what do you want readers to take away from Betty & Veronica’s Vixens?
Rotante: When women join forces, they’re unstoppable!
Betty & Veronica: Vixens #1 is in stores from today.