I should be working on something else right now. Today was supposed to herald good news (hopefully) from the Super Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct later, but this has been occupying my mind all day. I started a short post on Tumblr and it started to balloon, so I decided to just let it flow from there into this.
In case you haven’t heard, Archie Comics is killing Archie this July. If you’re even remotely savvy when it comes to comic books, you’re probably already figuring that they’ve already given themselves an out to ensure that they can continue featuring the character for years to come. And while that isn’t always the case, you’d be right in this instance.
The death takes place in the pages of the comic magazine Life with Archie, a follow-up to the “Archie Marries Veronica” and “Archie Marries Betty” storylines featured in the main Archie comic book back when it celebrated its 600th issue. Since then, they’ve gone back to the worlds presented in what was ultimately an overview of the possible futures of Archie Andrews and all his Riverdale pals, and basically picked up from the weddings and filled in the blanks that took place between that time and the further future the stories closed out with.
In other words, they’re killing Archie, and it’s probably going to stick, but it’s in a “possible future” context that won’t affect anything in the teenage Archie’s comics. A big dramatic finish that allows them to keep doing what they’ve been doing.
From the press release:
The iconic comic book character, beloved by millions around the globe for over 70 years, will sacrifice himself heroically while saving the life of a friend in the pages of July’s Life with Archie #36, the final issue in the flash-forward series, which spotlights Archie’s adventures after high school and college.
“We’ve been building up to this moment since we launched Life with Archie five years ago, and knew that any book that was telling the story of Archie’s life as an adult had to also show his final moment,” said Archie Comics Publisher/Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “Archie has and always will represent the best in all of us—he’s a hero, good-hearted, humble and inherently honorable. This story is going to inspire a wide range of reactions because we all feel so close to Archie. Fans will laugh, cry, jump off the edge of their seats and hopefully understand why this comic will go down as one of the most important moments in Archie’s entire history. It’s the biggest story we’ve ever done, and we’re supremely proud of it.”
While Life with Archie #36 shows readers Archie’s final moments, #37 leaps a year into the future, showcasing how the remaining members of the Riverdale gang—including Jughead, Betty & Veronica and Reggie—have honored the legacy of their dear friend. Both stories will be collected in the double-sized Life with Archie #36 magazine and upcoming trade paperback.
Okay, I’m really disappointed by this. Less by the death itself, but that Life with Archie as a whole is coming to an end. I mean, I’ll give credit: If you’re going to end a book called “Life with Archie,” it’s not like killing the titular character isn’t fitting.
I’m not going to judge the story until I read it, but I do find several parts of this whole thing just a little bit unsettling. For one, this was the Archie book I read month after month (as in literally Archie, not other things they publish like Mega Man). In fact, I saw the news just after doing a marathon read-through this morning of the last three issues I had picked up and hadn’t gotten to.
I read this one month after month from the beginning, and even went out of my way to get some back-issues I’d missed at one point. I don’t think I’ve ever done that with any Archie comic, ever.
So why is it coming to an end? That’s what I want to know. Were the sales just not there? The title seemed to be trumpeted all the time. Despite its quality, were people just not reading it?
If so, that’s a shame. And I’d really like to know.
Another thing which bugs me is that, going by this article, it sounds like they’re ditching the two-universe/timeline approach for this, which… just doesn’t make sense to me. If you read it, you’d understand why it feels off. Maybe they’ll make it work, but I kind of hate to see one of the magazine’s big draws being tossed out at the end.
Finally, this whole series came about because of the original “Archie Marries Veronica” and “Archie Marries Betty” story arcs in the regular issues. Those had happy endings, skipping ahead and showing Archie and his respective spouse having children, happily ever after, etc.
This book was supposed to fill in the blanks between their getting married and that later point in time, but now it seems to be contradicting itself. That… leaves me scratching my head. We have two divergent timelines here, and they threw in a third at one point outside of the magazine where Archie gets together with Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats. Are we bumping it up to five now?
That… sort of works? But if this was meant to fill in the blanks of the original stories, then swerves so those outcomes could never happen, does that mean that the book has failed in its original intent?
So yeah, I’m disappointed by this. I’ve read Archie comics since I was a kid, though admittedly less so as I’ve grown up. I’d still pick up a digest, get a few laughs, but I was never really invested in it. Not until this.
I’ve grown up, and something about Archie and friends growing up as well, facing problems I could better relate to now than when I was a kid reading Little Archie or transitioning into and throughout my teens with regular Archie. This was basically “adult” Archie, but without the kind of explicit content one tends to associate with “mature” or “adult” content these days, so readily seen in games like Grand Theft Auto or even in some of DC Comics’ own books. Life with Archie demonstrated a real sense of maturity, able to handle such matters without trying to flaunt the extravagance of it like a child trying to show everyone else how much they’ve grown up, because they already knew they had. This even allowed them to delve into some other types of zaniness as well (such as when the two universes presented in the book crossed over and met).
Life with Archie was basically “my” Archie now, and I hate to see it go. Nonetheless, I’ll be there until the bitter end. May Archie’s death be as good as his Life.
If you’re interested in joining me, “the story will be available in multiple formats, including an extra-large magazine-size Life with Archie #36, two comic-sized issues—Life with Archie #36 and #37—and a trade paperback collecting the entire story, written by regular Life with Archie writer Paul Kupperberg, with art by Pat & Tim Kennedy and Fernando Ruiz.”
Additionally, the two comic-styled issues will be available exclusively in comic shops in July, and “will feature a pantheon of artistic luminaries contributing covers to the historic issue, including Francesco Francavilla, Fiona Staples, Ramon Perez, Walt Simonson, Jill Thompson, Mike Allred, Cliff Chiang, Adam Hughes, Tommy Lee Edwardsm and Alex Ross.” You can see those covers here and here.