Hanley takes a deep, well-researched dive into the history of Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, analyzing their original appearances and exploring their many iterations since. He contextualizes their characters’ evolution within the cultural shifts of each decade (1950s domesticity, 1970s feminism) and shows how, in the publisher’s effort to tweak their formulaic high jinks, the girls both followed and subverted gender roles.
Hanley surveys the history of the two BFFs, beginning with Betty’s first appearance in Pep #22 (December 1941) and following through to the third season of Riverdale on the CW. Not only does the book give the reader a good sense of Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge’s evolving place in pop culture over the decades, including their appearances beyond the comic book page, but it also offers illuminating insight into the crystallization of the pairs’ personalities.
"Chapter by chapter, Hanley relates the history of the company from the perspective of Betty and Veronica being its major characters rather than Archie. It’s a fascinating way to look at things. While they remain essentially the same in the comics until recent years, the text follows their variations on radio, in TV pilots, on records, in Al Hartley’s parallel world Christian Archieverse, and in animated cartoons, all with details and trivia likely to be new to even the most hardcore Riverdale buff. Yes, the current TV teen super-soap is covered as well."
Tim Hanley has delivered another engaging comic book history filled with insider stories, cultural context, and a massive serving of nostalgia. Betty and Veronica is easy reading and it's lots of fun. This is a book nearly any comic fan will enjoy. . . This is a great book for Archie fans, of course. But it’s also a nice option for anyone looking for an entertaining and accessible piece of comic book history.
4/5/20: Graffiti with Punctuation podcast Josie and the Podcats interviewed author Tim Hanley on the history of Archie comics.
8/21/2020: Writer Steven Thompson reviewed Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale for Forces of Geek.