A classic Archie anthology that provides a set of fun Halloween stories for anyone who needs a break from hard-hitting horror.
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When I was a kid, I was allowed to pick one thing from beside the cash register at our local grocer. Nine times out of ten, I went for an ARCHIE DIGEST. The antics of the freckled titular character and his cohorts were hilarious to me. Betty Cooper, a do-gooder and an academic, was always and still is my favorite Archie character. Not only was she smart, but she was also smoking hot. While there are obvious issues with the cat fights between Betty and Veronica, fed by jealousy over a dud like Archie Andrews, the two girls always managed to remain friends.  They have worked out their differences for over 70 years and that dynamic has not changed in Dan Parent’s BETTY AND VERONICA HALLOWEEN ANNUAL #257.

The scriptwriters (Dan Parent, George Gladir, Mike Gallagher, Frank Doyle, Fernando Ruiz, Angelo Decesare, Mike Fellowski, Kathleen Webb, Joe Edwards, and Barbara Slate) and their team of artists (Bill Galvan, Jim Amash, Glen Whitmore, Jack Morelli, Bill Yoshida, Barry Grossman, Dan Decarlo, Stan Goldberg, Mike Esposito, Dick Malmgren, Jon D’Agostino, Rudy Lapick, Bob Bolling, Henry Scarpelli, John Lowe, John Workman, Jeff Shultz, Milgrom, Pat Kennedy, Crane, Jon Decarlo, Alison Flood, Phil Felix, Vickie Williams, and Holly G.!) create a classic digest centered around the foibles of our two most cherished ladies — only this time, it’s a bit spooky.

Interview with Archie Comics Legend Dan Parent at Flame Con 2017

Quick, Quippy, and Quirky

As an anthology, each of the stories can be read individually. This style makes BETTY AND VERONICA HALLOWEEN ANNUAL #257 a fast and easy read. The first story, “A Bewitching Tale,” sees Betty and Veronica helping their old teacher put on a Halloween play that, as Veronica points out, has a plot fiendishly similar to WICKED. The girls have a brief fight over who will be the beautiful princess and who the “striking” witch. When things don’t turn out exactly as Veronica wanted, she takes matters into her own hands, and in true Archie Comic fashion, learns a lesson.

Image courtesy of Archie Comics.

In another tale, “Knock Before Entering,” Veronica attempts to finish a history project at the last minute. She discovers her own house is haunted. As she concludes her research, she believes the ghost has begun haunting her. These spooks just so happen to coincide with the arrival of her spunky cousin Leroy. I won’t spoil anything, but Smithers helps solve Veronica’s hauntings in a SCOOBY-DOO kind of conclusion.

A go-to conflict in most Archie comics is the perpetual fight between Veronica and Betty over who is dating Archie. This Halloween issue is no different. In the story “Terror Firmer,” Veronica means to give Betty a fright by buying her horror film fest tickets. But this backfires when she unwittingly sets her up on a date with Archie. In the similar Betty-centric story, “Thrift Rift,” she attempts to use all of Archie’s money so he can’t go on a date with Veronica.

Whi(t)ch Guests Show Up for Halloween?

Among the myriad of Betty and Veronica stories, there are some guest appearances. How could it be a Halloween Annual without a few stories from SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH? Sabrina and her aunts, Hilda and Zelda, get into some fun Halloween trouble when Hilda tries to scare off Sabrina’s boyfriend, Harvey, with some well-punned magic in “A Lot of Bull.” In another story, “You Don’t Know Jack,”  Zelda grows tired of modern men and summons up an old English gentleman. Hilda and Sabrina grow worried for her safety when they mistake him for the infamous Jack the Ripper. Their worry is assuaged when he is revealed to be Jack the Tipper.

Along with Sabrina, JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS drop by BETTY AND VERONICA HALLOWEEN ANNUAL #257 as well. In “Breath of Evil,” Josie and her Pussycats fall into some trouble when they stumble across a mad scientist whose potent potion causes greediness in those who catch a whiff. The Pussycats snap out of the potion’s grip long enough to get themselves out of trouble and onto their next adventure.

While all the tales in this anthology cover a vast array of conflicts and situations, they all tend to follow the same pattern. Within three or four frames, whatever misunderstanding Betty and Veronica are having is solved with a quick pun. This isn’t a bad formula: its simplicity can be refreshing. However, when used for a whole anthology, it becomes a little boring after awhile.

The stories are quick and clever, hitting the punchline — usually a pun — hard on the nose. As it is a Halloween issue, the majority of the stories are ghoulishly themed. However, they’re about as spooky as a corgi in a ghost costume, which can provide a much-needed break from some of the more serious horror surrounding this time of year.

An Artful, Autumnal Atmosphere

The characters in Archie Comics have had many different looks since being created in 1941. However, there have been several aspects that have never changed. Veronica is the swarthy brunette to Betty’s ponytailed blonde. BETTY AND VERONICA HALLOWEEN ANNUAL #257 reminds me of the digests I read as a kid, mostly because the art feels unchanged.

Image courtesy of Archie Comics.

The coloring of Riverdale High School is the same. Bright yellows, reds, and greens are the highlight of Whitmore and Grossman’s palates. The colors of the comic are the crux of creating the stories’ atmosphere. As is appropriate for Halloween, Whitmore sets an autumnal theme throughout the comic. They emphasize the oranges of fall leaves and colors the characters cozy sweaters with warm reds and yellows.  The classic fall colors we all know and love grace each story and compliment the entire atmosphere of the anthology.

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A Classic Characterization

All new Archie content, like The CW’s RIVERDALE and the newer revitalized comic series ARCHIE, has flooded the entertainment scene. The new dynamic and complex personalities of Riverdale residents have pleased readers. This modernized depiction applies heavily to Betty and Veronica.

Image courtesy of Archie Comics.

Out of everyone, Betty and Veronica have changed the most. In the newer media, we see the two girls exploring their complexities beyond their competition for Archie’s only love. This is a fresh new insight that is sadly missing in BETTY AND VERONICA HALLOWEEN ANNUAL #257. However, this issue is part of a series from the Archie library, hearkening back to the classics of the comic. Therefore, the staples from the early days of Archie, like Betty and Veronica fighting over Archie, are more tolerable.


From hard-hitting puns to spooky Halloween party advice, BETTY AND VERONICA HALLOWEEN ANNUAL #257 is fun from start to finish. The fantastic colors, lines, lettering and inking show the pure talent of the entire artistic team. Dan Parent stays true to the origins of classic Archie and provides a set of fun Halloween stories for anyone who needs a break from hard-hitting horror. Overall, BETTY AND VERONICA HALLOWEEN ANNUAL #257 is a feel good comic for the season.

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