Review by Will Morgan
In 2007, the staid Archie Comics group, publishers of the world’s oldest teenagers’ anodyne antics, announced an experimental change in some of their storylines; they would be trying a more ‘realistic’ style over the course of several stories, moving away from their traditional cartoony artwork, as long defined by Bob Montana, Dan DeCarlo, Stan Goldberg, et.al.
This was the first of those tales. Betty and Veronica are diverted from their eternal rivalry over Archie by the arrival in town of a new boy, Nick St. Clair; He quickly becomes established as a Bad Sort, stealing food from the school cafeteria, sneaking into the movies, starting fights, and – it is implied – occasionally doing worse things. Even though Nick frankly expresses his interest in Betty, it’s Veronica who falls for Nick’s line, and is strung along for the advantages a wealthy girlfriend can give to a slacker. Betty, Archie and company, seeing Veronica seemingly hitch-hiking on Nick’s self-destructive path, set about trying to end the relationship, at the risk of jeopardising their friendship with Veronica.
Melanie J. Morgan’s script is competent, if exposition-heavy. Perhaps Archie anticipated new readers with the new style, and therefore the characters repeat their established relationships to each other rather a lot, and Steven Butler’s art, while possessed of a slick line, lacks animation. Given a milieu in which emotions rather than actions are the main plot engine, facial expression and body language are crucial, and Butler falls down badly, giving us a series of static tableaux that for all the world could have been posed by Barbies.
This paperback wasn’t actually titled Archie’s New Look when released, but came out as simply Betty & Veronica: Bad Boy Trouble. Subsequent New Look releases retconned it as Vol. 1 in the series.