he image: The spirit of bipartisanship is in the air — and on the cover of the latest Archie comic book. For a plot about Riverdale High's student body election, Archie editors paired the ideologically opposed politicians (each giving readers the thumbs-up). And it's not the first Archie issue to hypothesize the match. Palin and Obama shared a milkshake on an early January 2011 cover, provoking the series' eponymous red-head to marvel, "I guess anything's possible!" And an earlier episode in the unfolding school-election plot saw Archie and Reggie faking endorsements from the political leaders. (Get a sneak peek at this month's issue in AOL's Comics Alliance.)
The reaction: While "substantive" political messages in entertainment is one thing, says Calvin Freiburger at NewsRealBlog, "the wholesale political weaponization of America's... pop icons" is quite another. Come off it, says Jon Goldwater, co-chief executive of Archie Comics, quoted in The Huffington Post. This is a "fun, entertaining piece of storytelling." The message is that "even people with opposing views can find common ground if they truly want what is best for this country." Have a look at the cover in question:
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