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Old 08-19-09, 06:14 AM
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Archie picks his bride in six-issue story

Nothing like a storybook wedding, especially when it unfolds in a comic book.

Superman had one after winning the heart of Lois Lane. Spider-Man had one after webbing the love of Mary Jane Watson, though technically their marriage was erased from comic book continuity, but still ...

Now add Archie Andrews to the groom brigade. The perpetual high school student ties the knot in a six-issue story that begins in Archie No. 600, which hits comic shops Wednesday and newsstands the week of Aug. 31.

It's a milestone that has blond girl-next-door Betty Cooper absolutely teary-eyed — mainly because Archie is going to marry her rich, raven-haired frenemy Veronica Lodge.

So why did Archie finally choose Veronica over her longtime rival?

"If he ended up with Betty, there wouldn't be much to talk about, would there?" asks Victor Gorelick, editor-in-chief of Archie Comics.

The story takes place several years in the future, right after Archie and the gang have graduated college. That's when we'll learn what life holds for Archie as well as best-buddy Jughead Jones, wise-guy rival Reggie Mantle and other familiar Riverdale faces.

"It's going to have lots of surprises and one very big shock," Archie writer Michael Uslan teases. "It is not only going to focus on Archie and Veronica but the impact their decision makes on their family and friends. That is a butterfly effect."

Naturally, Gorelick and Uslan want to keep mum about what unfolds in Archie No. 600 and ensuing issues, although Gorelick revealed Betty's and Jughead's reactions to Archie's proposal. ("Obviously to Betty it's kind of devastating," he says, "and Jughead can't believe it.")

Uslan says he wrote the wedding story "with a sense of reality," especially when it comes to Betty and how Archie's choice leads her to examine her own issues and self-confidence.

"And maybe Archie doesn't deserve her," Uslan says. "Maybe she's entitled to something better for her life."

Uslan likens the Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle to the very real breakup of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston followed by the hookup of Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

"In the day and place in which we live, it really, really could happen this way," Uslan says.

As unsettling as Archie's wedding may be for fans, Uslan still takes Riverdale's favorite son very seriously.

The man who would grow up to executive produce the Batman films credits Archie with not only teaching him how to read but also informing his high school experience right down to dating. When it came to writing this major turning point in the character's life, Uslan combed through decades of Archie stories.

Gorelick was hesitant when Uslan pitched the wedding story. "But the more (Uslan) and I discussed it," Gorelick says, "the more I liked the idea."

Archie has been young and single for a long time. The bumbling but earnest redhead first stumbled onto the scene in 1941 in Pep Comics No. 22. Today, Archie adventures are read in the United States, Canada and Mexico as well as India, South Africa, Australia and Scandinavia.

This isn't the first time Archie Comics has made headlines for rocking Archie's world.

Gorelick points to 1994's "Love Showdown," in which Archie had to choose between Betty and Veronica. In the end Archie ditched both the blonde and the brunette for the redhead Cheryl Blossom. A subsequent story brought back the original love triangle.

Archie Comics also turned heads a few years ago when it began a "New Look Series" giving select Archie tales a more realistic comic art style that Gorelick says has received mixed reactions.

"The biggest fear was we were going to change the entire line," he says. "We still have a few more coming out, but I don't think we're going to be continuing that."

As for how readers react to Archie and Veronica's nuptials, Gorelick points out this is just one series and we'll see Archie and the gang back to their high school high jinks when it's over.

Nevertheless, Uslan promises tears and tender moments but also a lot of laughs — a story for the ages as well as for all ages.

"It doesn't really matter if you've read Archie in the '40s and '50s, the '60s, '70s or today," Uslan says. "You will see things ranging from street signs and store signs that are waves to many generations of fans to let them know, 'Hey, we know you're taking this ride with us. We know you're out there and we care about you and have fun with us on this.'"

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Archie picks his bride in six-issue story
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