Veronica #199 may have been the first time (that I’m aware of) that Archie Comics featured Barack Obama in one of their titles, but it was not the last, as he returned once again 9 months later in December 2010, in this issue of the main Archie series. And perhaps in an attempt to appeal to a more bipartisan audience, this issue also featured Sarah Palin!

Written by Alex Simmons and drawn by Dan Parent, this issue tells part 1 of a story called “Campaign Pains.” Archie and Reggie are both running against each other for Student Body President. After a disastrous debate performance, in which he showed up late and was relentlessly mocked by Reggie, Archie is way behind in the polls. So, acting as his campaign manager, Betty first takes Archie out shopping for new clothes in an attempt to sharpen his public image. Then she flies him on her family’s private jet to an important political conference in Washington D.C., where she introduces him to President Barack Obama, who remembers her from last time. Archie is awe-struck by the President (who could blame him?), and Veronica takes a picture of the two of them together. She then posts that picture in the Riverdale high school newspaper, claiming that Obama is endorsing Archie.

The next day at school, Archie is shocked to find out that his popularity has dramatically increased, with many students congratulating him, volunteering to work on his campaign, and promising to vote for him. Seeing this change, Reggie’s campaign manager, a girl named Trula Twist (another newer character that I wasn’t familiar with), arranges for Reggue to attend a political function in which he meets Governor Sarah Palin. Trula takes a picture of them together, and posts that in the school newspaper, saying Palin endorses Reggie. And then, in a clever riff on the real-life divisiveness of politics of the time, the school quickly becomes fractured as the student body splits in two with arguments erupting between the pro-Archie/Obama students and the pro-Reggie/Palin students. This all leads to a dramatic, if somewhat predictable (based on the cover), cliffhanger.

Again, I’m impressed with Archie Comics managed to make the inclusion of these real-life political figures seem natural, and not like a forced marketing gimmick (which it undoubtedly was). This is an entertaining story and a nice trip down memories that I think both liberal and conservative Archie fans will enjoy. Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS


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