Archie Andrews killed by a bullet? Come on, get real.
Amid howls of protest, Archie Andrews, preux chevalier of Riverdale High, will meet his death this July. In the 36th issue of the Life With Archie series, he will get shot while trying to save a friend. The cover is already out, showing Archie Andrews, freckled and snub-nosed in death as in life, with a spreading blood stain on his shirt, Veronica and Betty bending over him. A cruel end to one of the longest-running love triangles in history.
Riverdale is the land of eternal summer, where life revolves around Pop Tate’s Chocklit Shoppe, where the beach is a short drive away, where Jughead is untiring in his quest for food, and Betty and Veronica in their quest for Archie. Their clothes have changed from the drainpipes of the 1950s and the bell bottoms of the ’70s. Modern-day Archie looks unnervingly like Channing Tatum at times. But Riverdale endures.
Not for the powers that be at Archie comics, however, who feel the need to make Riverdale catch up with the times and “represent America in an honest way”. So it now has a gay, biracial couple, adultery and zombies. While more diversity is welcome, do we really need to see Archie grow into grumpy adulthood and yell at Betty for not giving enough time to their marriage? And now death, the final stroke of reality. The premise of the Archie comics was never going to stand up well to notions of gender equality or psychological accuracy. Why get real?
While there will no doubt be more comic books showing young Archie in school, readers will go back to them with the knowledge of his mortality. It seems like an implausible death anyway. Started in 1941, the Archie comics have survived World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam and 9/11. What could possibly kill Archie Andrews now?