Say it ain’t so. Coming this July, the lovelorn, freckly comic favorite, Archie Andrews will meet his fate after 73 teenage years in the business. One of the most recognized faces in American classic comics, the beloved comic star transformed into a pop culture icon, forever asking the question– who will he chose? Betty or Veronica?
Archie’s first appearance in Pep Comics #22 on December 22, 1941, 15 days after Pearl Harbor, was drawn by Bob Montana and written by Vic Bloom. Archie Comics is also the title of the company’s longest running publication. Starting with issue #114, the title was shortened to simply Archie.
Many fans and non-comic readers alike remember Archie’s high school days in Riverdale and the teenaged Archie in the 40′s, but the “Life With Archie” series follows the protagonist to college and into his future. The spin-off series even has dual story lines, one where Archie and Veronica are married and the other he ends up with Betty. “Life with Archie” series continues until Archie’s fatal last day in Issue #36, said to be released July 16th.
Jon Goldwater, son of John Goldwater the Archie creator, indicates Archie sacrifices himself to save a friend. There is no denying the coincidence how Archie’s character death coincides with the death of actor Mickey Rooney (died at age 94), the said inspiration for the character. Goldwater explained the creators crafted the final story with care and extensive though to achieve a heroic death for the pop culture icon. According the Goldwater, Archie’s death is appropriate to the character as “dies as he lived—heroically, saving the life of a friend and does it in his usual selfless way… Archie has always been a representation of us—the best of us; our strengths and our faults.”
Fans will leap forward a year later in Issue #37 to see the aftermath of Archie’s death, how his friends have moved on and the importance and heroism in a “normal guy.” Furthermore Archie Comics will resurrect Archie’s story with the series “Afterlife with Archie.” The tales of the red-headed hero gone grey, zombie grey—Zombie Archie stories will continue as the company expands and adapts the beloved characters with new interpretations. Still it sounds a little bit like placing the Walking Dead into Riverdale… Maybe the new obsession will take a grim turn to the whole Veronica-or-Betty business, as in who will he try to eat first. How romantic.
Nonetheless whatever is set in the future, it will be an emotional roller coaster for Archie fans as they recognize the loss of a memorable friend, not just in comics but in pop culture.