Bizarro Back Issues: The Murderous Wintertime Wrath Of Veronica Lodge (1985)
The thing you need to understand about Riverdale is that people there don’t react to things with the normal levels of emotions.
I mean, that’s pretty obvious, right? The entire town — the entire universe in which that town resides — is built around the idea that this one teenager is so irresistibly alluring that it has resulted in a 75-year love triangle with dozens of characters caught in its orbit, and even if you’re going by the upcoming TV show’s version of Archie and his abs, that kind of all-consuming conflict is a little difficult to believe. In Riverdale, overreacting is just, you know, reacting. Which is how you get stories like the one where Veronica Lodge gets hit by a snowball and then very seriously threatens to murder an entire town.
That is, I kid you not, the premise of Frank Doyle and Dan DeCarlo‘s “The Untouchable,” a five-pager that made its debut in 1985’s Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica #335. If, however, you’d like to grab it without digging through back issue bins, it had a relatively recent reprint as part of Archie’s Pep Digital line — and you absolutely should grab pretty much all of those, because they feature some of the weirdest deep cuts in Archie history, all arranged by theme.
If you do, you’ll find that there are a couple of recurring elements in Betty & Veronica stories set during the wintertime that everyone just takes as a given, and first among them is that as soon as there’s snow on the ground, teenage boys start laying elaborate ambushes for the girls they like so that they can pelt them with snowballs.
This is something that I’ve never encountered before, but I’ll admit that might be because I grew up in South Carolina, and having snow on the ground was never really an issue. Still, it seems a little weird, especially since there are also roving bands of children who have decided that the anarchy that comes with winter weather is the perfect time to wing a couple of snowballs at random pedestrians.
All of which is to say that this story opens with Betty getting no-scoped with a handful of snow, and Veronica finding that to be hilarious.
You see where this is going, right? Right.
Sure enough, mere seconds later, Veronica gets her own snowball upside the head, and despite chiding Betty, her reaction is… well, it’s one of the single best panels in Archie history.
There are a lot of reasons why Dan DeCarlo is one of the all-time greats, but the fact that he went through the trouble of drawing skulls in Veronica’s eyes to accent her murderous rage, even though that kind of detail would likely be lost in later digest-sized reprints is definitely one of them.
Anyway, Veronica full-on loses her stuff at this, declaring that some peasant out there has “taken liberties with the person of Veronica Lodge,” which I think we can all agree is effrontery that will not — that cannot — be allowed to stand. And even her best friend isn’t going to delay her unchecked wrath from being released on the rest of the town.
With that, Veronica stomps off to confront the offending snowball-throwers, and finds herself face-to-face with a couple of children who are apparently in need of reminding about How Things Work in Riverdale, and how unnamed incidental characters should not presume to interact with protagonists.
Two things about this: First, despite appearances, that kid in the glasses is not Dilton Doiley.
Second, this is maybe the most perfect possible Veronica Lodge response to a situation. She’s been hit with a snowball — which I think we can all agree actually is pretty rude — and she doesn’t talk about the kids being mean or disrespectful to her. She immediately goes straight to a classist rant and attempts to crush the proletariat under her heel. It’s Peak Veronica.
With the working class sufficiently cowed, Betty and Veronica head off to go about their day untroubled. Until, that is, they finish their shopping and step out into another ambush. The thing is, this time, it’s not just kids indulging in wanton destruction. This, it seems is one of those charmingly romantic snowball fights where all the boys in town send snowballs directly at the heads of their beloveds like some kind of slushy take on Cupid’s arrow. Betty gets one first, and then soon, it’s every girl in town getting pelted as they giggle their way through the snow.
Every girl except one.
Not only does Not-Dilton have a pretty sharp aim for throwing snowballs, he’s also apparently a motormouth. After he was reminded of his place in the social order and threatened by Veronica — who, I remind you, had the literal spectre of death in her eyes and flames rising from her head — the word got out that Ms. Lodge is not to be trifled with, so while everyone else is having good old-fashioned wintry fun, Veronica stands, completely untouched, in the crowd.
And honestly, that requires some pretty incredible skill. You’d think that at the very least Archie’s clumsiness would keep him from missing her, or that Reggie would somehow figure out a way to set him up to get her with one, thus (theoretically) ruining his chances for love, but no. Everyone meticulously avoids Veronica, lest she call down hellish bourgeoisie destruction onto the entire town.
And with that, Veronica learns a hard lesson about the price of wrath. I think? I mean, honestly, I’m not sure what we’re supposed to learn here. Don’t throw snowballs at random people walking by on the street because they might literally kill you with their eyes, but do throw snowballs at the people you love, because it’s very romantic to have ice-cold water dripping down your neck in the middle of December? Don’t threaten to murder someone who throws a snowball at you because you might want someone else to throw a snowball at you in the future for different reasons?
Maybe just “Don’t threaten to murder the town because you might get sad later for reasons that are only slightly related.” That’s something I think we can all relate to.
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