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Bizarro Back Issues: Betty, Veronica, And the Dark Sorcery That Is Love! (1994) [Love & Sex Week]

Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics
Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics

 

It’s Valentine’s Day, and that means that our thoughts here at ComicsAlliance are turning inevitably to our favorite romances from comics. Well. Maybe that’s not the right word, since I’m not sure that a high school love triangle between an indecisive klutz and two girls who would be better off without him really qualifies as romance, but you get the idea. Love is in the air, and when Betty and Veronica are involved, that’s naturally going to include a little bit of competition.

That’s certainly to be expected, but sometimes, it gets a little too intense. Like, say, that one time back in the ’90s when Veronica turned to the darkest sorcery in order to win Archie‘s heart, and Archie wound up in the hospital.

 

Betty & Veronica Spectacular #7, Archie Comics
Betty & Veronica Spectacular #7, Archie Comics

 

That’s what happens in “Love Notions,” and while it originally ran back in 1994’s Betty & Veronica Spectacular #7 — courtesy of Michael Gallagher and Dan DeCarlo — you can find a more recent version in Pep Digital: Archie’s Sweet Hearts. And you absolutely should, because that thing has some real gems in it. Not only is there a story where Archie and Dilton try to set Ethel Muggs up on a Valentine’s Day date with a robot — which I’m really hoping is adapted into the next episode of Riverdale — it also contains a rare appearance from one of my all-time favorite characters: Randolph.

If you don’t remember him, he’s an extremely short-lived character that Veronica decided to date while she and Betty were taking a break from Archie, despite the fact that he goes to school wearing a top hat and a T-shirt that says “ANIME RULES.” In this volume, we find out that they never kissed, because he kept getting distracted by TV commercials. Randolph, you are the worst.

With that as her other option, it makes sense that Ronnie would start digging in her heels to keep a hold of Archie, especially if Betty is going to turn to… the supernatural.

 

Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics
Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics

 

Despite her initial dismissiveness, the idea that Betty could get a mystical advantage starts to weigh heavily on Veronica’s mind, until she eventually hits a breaking point, calls Betty a “hextress” (amazing), and decides to hit up one of Riverdale’s many sketchy storefront psychics to get an equalizer.

 

Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics
Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics

 

But here’s the thing: Madame Belinda here isn’t really psychic. She’s literally just selling year-old candy to Veronica:

 

Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics
Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics

 

And that raises a lot of questions. Like, magic 100% exists in the Archie Universe, right? Even if you assume that they forget about how they’re definitely on a first-name basis with Christmas Elves once January rolls around, they also know a Teenage Witch who lives in the next town. Jughead’s even got a magic pin for his hat that, should he choose to wear it, makes him irresistible to women! Seriously! That’s canon!

And yet, in a world full of legitimate love charms and actual spellcasters, young Ms. Lodge stumbles on a charlatan who wants to pass off stale candy as a magic item. To be fair, though, all of this happens in the span of a single school day, with Veronica just bailing out of class and driving over to Belinda’s storefront, so maybe she was just the closest available option. I mean, the more I think about it, the more I feel like maybe it makes perfect sense for someone who lives in a world where Teenage Witchery is a fact of life to just assume that everyone offering love potions is on the level.

Either way, it doesn’t really work out.

 

Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics
Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics

 

The stale candy gives Archie a chipped tooth, and Veronica’s second attempt, a perfume that she spritzes directly into his face, results in an allergic reaction that sends him back to the school nurse — in Betty’s arms.

But rather than giving up or realizing that maybe Madame Belinda isn’t exactly on the level, Veronica just assumes that it’s the enchantment of the locket that’s overpowering her lesser magic. She just needs something more powerful.

In another comic — one of those weird “serious” books from the ’70s, or maybe the edgier side of the Spire Christian comics — this would lead Veronica straight to blood sacrifice and pacts with the Devil. As good as that would be, it’s not what happens here. Instead, Veronica gets a “Triple-A” charm that… look, at this point, she should probably realize how dubious this one is right from the start.

 

Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics
Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics

 

Because if there’s one thing we all know, it’s how oiling someone’s feet makes it very easy to walk.

It turns out, of course, that this is just some olive oil from Madame Belinda’s kitchen, and it’s worth noting at this point that after this is revealed, she exits the story without ever getting her comeuppance. She just cold bilks Veronica out of what looks like a couple hundo, and then leaves Archie continuity, retiring undefeated with a good chunk of the Lodge family fortune for her troubles.

Veronica, meanwhile, is tasked with figuring out how to properly anoint her beloved’s shoes, but that’s a problem that only lasts about two panels. It turns out that Archie has gym class, and when Veronica — who has been cutting class this entire time — returns to school, she simply waltzes into the boys’ locker room, and squirts a dinner’s worth of oil on the soles of his sneakers:

 

Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics
Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics

 

Real quick, though: Are we supposed to think that Archie has a photograph of himself taped to his locker? That’s more of a Reggie thing, isn’t it? Unless that’s meant to be the outside of his locker, and we’re meant to believe that he needs a photographic reminder of which one’s his? Or did Veronica put it there before she started oiling the shoes, as a reminder of why she’s going through all this?  It’s weird, right?

But with that, the shoes are oiled, and, well, you can probably guess how “oiled shoes” and “Archie Andrews” go together.

 

Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics
Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics

 

But here’s the kicker: It turns out that all of Veronica’s dabbling in witchcraft and sorcery wasn’t even necessary. Betty didn’t even wear her “enchanted” locket to school! The chain broke, so it’s at the jeweler’s being repaired, while Veronica comes very close to just drawing pentagrams on the floor of Riverdale High in order to bind a man’s desires to her, and ends up with her beloved in traction.

 

Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics
Pep Digital #38, Archie Comics

 

Ah, romance!

 

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