Over the past several years, the classic world of Archie Comics has received several dramatic reinterpretations. While Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have re-envisioned Archie for the streaming age in live-action, Archie and his pals have gone through some even more dramatic makeovers in comics.
One of the most dramatic reinterpretations of the classic Archie world is Betty and Veronica Vixens , a 10-issue alternate universe series by Jamie L. Rotante, Eva Cabrera, Elaina Unger and Rachel Deering.
In this series, Betty and Veronica are craving some excitement so they start an all-girls biker gang, recruiting their classmates (Ethel, Midge and Toni) and financing it with Veronica’s seemingly limitless credit card. Although in the beginning they do it just for fun, they soon start clashing with the Southside Serpents, until the gang becomes less about driving around with friends and more about defending the weakest at Riverdale.
In the first panel of the series, Betty and Veronica roll their eyes at Reggie’s suggestion that only boys get to have fun on wheels, and the entire series can be taken as a refutation of that idea. The Vixens drag race each other, go to bars, cheer each other on, worry about the best mechanical tricks to fix their bikes, and even participate in roller derby in a story that mirrors the way tournament-style manga are structured.
In addition to Betty and veronica, the story's main gang incorporates several classic Archie antagonists like Cheryl Blossom and Penny Peabody, who use their gifts for plotting and manipulating for motorcycle riding and Southside Serpent stomping. The story also features several rarely-seen characters from Archie's vault, including Toni Topaz, Midge Klump and Evelyn Evernever.
Despite it's tonal differences, Vixens still has the hallmarks of a classic Archie tale. The series takes several stylistic cues from the '50s, a decade that Archie Comics helped define. While they feature drastically different subjects, Vixens and the old Archie Comics share the big eyes, minimalist backgrounds and clean line styles that aren't really embraced by modern Archie comics.
Like many reversions of Archie, the series' tonal dissonance is especially pronounced. While its essentially about a girl gang building friendships and riding motorcycles, it's also about breaking up the Southside Serpents kidnapping ring through ample use of brass knuckles.
Ultimately, Vixens thrives on the contradictions it brings to the table. With a rockabilly, greaser sensibility, it's a portal to a world of hobbies and escapist power fantasies that's traditionally reserved for male characters. Anyone who reads the series might want to go buy a leather jacket, play roller derby and find a girl gang of their own, and that's basically what the series is all about.