Archie Andrews, the freckle-faced, redheaded, do-gooder comic book character, will die this week.
The famous 73-year-old icon will fall in Wednesday's installment of "Life with Archie" when he intervenes in an assassination attempt on Sen. Kevin Keller, the series' first openly gay character, who is pushing for more gun control in Riverdale. Archie's death was first announced in April and will mark the conclusion of the series, which focuses on grownup renditions of Archie and his pals.
"Not to be too grandiose, but this demise is a fitting and tonally perfect tribute to a character who has always put his friends first," wrote Chris Cummins for Den of Geek. "This is a publicity stunt for sure, but one with heart that will have permanent ramifications."
Archie's final moments will be detailed in "Life with Archie" No. 36. Issue No. 37 will jump forward a year and focus on Riverdale residents’ honoring the legacy of their freckle-faced pal, who first appeared in comics in 1941 and went on to become a colorful icon of Americana and wholesomeness. Other incarnations of Archie will continue to live on in other Archie Comics series.
"He's willing to literally die to save his friend Kevin," said Archie Comics publishers and co-CEO Jon Goldwater. "Archie would have died to save any of his friends. I think Archie would've even died to save a stranger."
Kevin joined Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper, Jughead Jones and Reggie Mantle in Archie Comics in 2010. He later appeared in his own title. In "Life with Archie," he's a married military veteran and newly elected senator who's pushing for more gun control in Riverdale after his husband was involved in a shooting.
While the original comic book series starring Archie began as an innocent look at a group of pals at Riverdale High School, Archie Comics has in recent years striven to appeal to modern sensibilities with "Life with Archie," a more socially relevant spin-off aimed at adult longtime Archie fans. Over the past four years, "Life with Archie" plots have focused on Kevin's marriage, the death of longtime teacher Ms. Grundy and Archie love interest Cheryl Blossom's tackling breast cancer and affordable health care.
Andrew Wheeler, who writes about the comic book industry at ComicsAlliance.com, praised the way that Archie will be killed off. He wrote on Monday that "Archie's sacrifice isn't just a moment of heroism; it offers an unambiguous condemnation of America's lax gun laws" and that it's "not surprising to see Archie Comics tackling such a serious issue" because the publisher "doesn't shy away from risky ideas."
Who shot Archie? Goldwater isn't spoiling the killer, teasing only that it's a stalker who wanted to take down Kevin.
The Associated Press