One is blond, loyal and kind. The other, raven-haired, charming and rich.
Both great catches in the eyes of many, but after 67 years of being entangled in the comic world's longest-running love triangle, Archie Andrews is set to tie the knot. His fiancé? That vixen Veronica Lodge.
Gasps resounded from the comic's fans yesterday after Archie Comic Publications announced the flighty redhead from Riverdale picked Veronica over Betty Cooper. The publisher sent speculation swirling in mid-May when it announced a special marital-themed storyline for release in August but didn't reveal the lucky lady. The wedding will take place after the gang graduates college and venture out into the working world.
Response to the proposal has been markedly divided. Betty fans are outraged the girl next door has been ditched yet again for the beautiful, yet spoilt, Ronnie. Many question whether Archie should marry at all, lamenting a possible end to the enduring comic-book soap opera (The last time the comic toyed with ending the triangle, Archie chose a third option, Cheryl Blossom, in a cop-out ending.)
But whether you're in Betty or Veronica's corner - and let's face it, most of us have a gut response - Archie's choice of life-partner urges us to look inward. What does the couple we root for say about us?
Perhaps more than we realize, relationships expert Marion Goertz says.
"People who vote for Veronica-Archie are the idealists, the people who say, 'I'm voting for the glitz, the glamour, the high energy, the sexiness, the ideal [and]they might not even care so much that it'll only last five years,'" says the Toronto-based registered family, marriage and sex therapist.
Those who yearn to see Archie and Betty get hitched take a more realistic, traditional view, she says. They're more grounded, are thinking long term and have more of a sense of "for always and forever."
The way the girlfriends each relate to Archie sheds a lot of light on their character. Betty allows Archie to push her aside, a sign she'd make a submissive wife, Ms. Goertz says.
"Veronica just kind of takes what she takes and doesn't give a whole lot in return, but there's a sense that she's the prize, the unattainable, the hard to reach. Archie's quite flattered by that."
While she wishes both women would just ditch Archie for good, Toronto sex and relationships columnist Josey Vogels says their love triangle has influenced the way we approach our dating lives.
"We [often]go between the predictable, safe, reliable, loyal, but maybe not that exciting and passionate [relationships]to the more unavailable ... slightly more mysterious and angst-ridden high drama relationships," she says, adding that the good girl vs. bad girl dichotomy is often played up in the dating game.
Archie's pick of a modern woman who is independently wealthy (okay, it's daddy's money) is a sign of the times, she adds.
Feminist professor Maureen Bradley would take it a step further.
"The spoiled rich girl is still more appealing, and maybe that's a wise thing to pick in these uncertain times," says the associate professor of media at the University of Victoria.
The choice to create Veronica as a raven-haired minx is also surprising, she says. Historically, the temptress has always been blond - just look at Marilyn Monroe.
"I think you marry the nice girl, I don't think you marry the whore," she says, adding that the man of the 1950s would certainly take Betty home to their mothers and perhaps take up an affair with a girl like Veronica.
Though a modern man himself, comic-book salesman Kody Peters is outraged over what he views as Archie's woeful taste in women.
"I'm shocked and appalled," the 23-year-old employee of Toronto's Silver Snail Comics bookstore said yesterday when delivered the news.
"They're both madly in love with him, but really, aside from that, Veronica's got nothing to offer, whereas Betty is like the sweetest girl in the whole world."
The characters also weighed in on the proposal.
"I wonder if Betty wants to be my Maid of Honor? I bet she is so happy for me!" Veronica mused on her blog yesterday. Meanwhile, Betty was speechless but expressed her sorrow amid a string of x's and o's. Reggie, the comic's smarmy bad boy, was opportunistic. "Betty is probably free Friday night. Maybe I should ask her out."
Leah, a commenter on the Neatorama.com blog, expressed surprise that Archie's best friend Jughead was left out in the cold.
"If he doesn't marry Jughead I will NEVER read an Archie comic again. Honestly those two have the most chemistry."
As an example to children, shouldn't Archie marry for the love of a good woman - CLEARLY that would be Betty! - Turning Left
She'll have no trouble finding "Mr. Right." She was always my Perfect Girl, even though a cursory glance will reveal she's Veronica with blonde hair. - B. Logan
Veronica is going to make him sign a pre-nup.... - A Happier Place
Ronnie fans When the chips are down, go for the money!!! - Lamont Cranston
Thank God Archie didn't end up with a stock blonde, the generic housewife next door. At least Veronica has edge. - Cassie
Well Betty would be your true down to earth woman and Veronica is too much about maintenance. - Gary_MB
Archie is taking life lessons from Brad Pitt - sample the girl next door and then leave her for the vixen. - Gossip Girl