Archie Andrews, who first appeared in comics in 1941, is being killed off, taking the bullet meant for a gay friend of his, in the most recent issue of Life with Archie, a comic book spin-off series that is about Archie’s adult years and adventures. Archie tries to stop an assassination attempt on his friend, Senator Kevin Kellar, the first gay character ever to appear in the Life with Archie series.
The storyline involves Senator Kellar’s plan to institute a higher degree of gun control in Riverdale. Though Superman, Steve Rogers (Captain America), and Peter Parker (Spider-Man), have “died” in comic books, death has not proven to be final for any of them. The same might be the case for Archie Andrews, whose impending death was announced last April. Issue #36 of Life with Archie will mark the end of Archie Andrews’ life.
Some comic book fans and critics, such as Chris Cummins who writes about comic books for DenOfGeek.us, believe that the killing off of Archie Andrews “is a publicity stunt.” However, as he adds, the story is likely one “that will have permanent ramifications,” as it deals with the serious topic of gun control and Archie Andrews willingly sacrificing his life for a friend of his, a friend who just so happens to also be gay.
While the storyline is very tragic and sad, though, it does not necessarily spell the ultimate end of iconic comic book character Archie Andrews. He will still appear, as his younger, teenage self, in other Archie Comics series featuring the red-headed all-around nice guy from Riverdale.
After issue #36, there will be at least one more issue of Life with Archie. In issue #37, Riverdale, a year later, will honor the memory and heroic action of Archie Andrews in taking a bullet to save the life of his friend. Senator Kevin Kellar is gay, but Archie cares more about the type of person he is in total, as a fellow human being and a friend. Archie Andrews’ taking a bullet to save Kellar is very much a part of who he is — the kind of person who would do the same for any of his friends.
According to co-CEO and Archie Comics publisher, Jon Goldwater, “I think Archie would’ve even died to save a stranger.”
Issue #36 is bound to be a controversial one for reasons other than Archie Andrews’ tragic demise. It confronts the topics of gun control and diversity of lifestyles, two topics which are very “hot button” ones.
Goldwater thinks that the death of Archie Andrews might have even more impact on his fans than the “death” of a superhero, in that “When you wound him, he bleeds. He knows that.” The co-CEO of Archie comics hopes “that we can – in some way – learn from him.”
The character of Senator Kevin Kellar first appeared in 2010, alongside Archie’s other list of more familiar friends to long-time fans, such as Jughead Jones, Reggie Mantle, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge. Kellar even had a solo comic book series that was a spin-off.
Newly-elected military veteran Senator Kellar is, in Life with Archie, a married man who became interested in the issue of gun control after his husband’s involvement in a shooting incident. After that, Kellar believes that stronger gun control laws may help curb the gun violence that seems to be in the headlines daily.
Life with Archie is a comic book series aimed at appealing to older, longtime fans of Archie Andrews, ones who grew up enjoying reading about the teenage exploits of Archie and his group of friends who attended Riverdale High School. Though it is a series that appears to be on the verge of concluding, Life with Archie developed a loyal clique of fans.
Life with Archie has not shied away from handling serious topics, like affordable health care and breast cancer, in past issues. The series has also dealt with the death of beloved characters before, such as when Riverdale High teacher Ms. Gundy died.
There was even a zombie-related Archie comics spin-off called Afterlife with Archie, about a time when zombies roam the streets of Riverdale. What’s more, there will also be a four-part Archie story written by Lena Dunham (Girls) set to be released in 2015 about a reality TV show produced in Riverdale.
The exact identity of the person who kills Archie Andrews is a secret. However, Goldwater did mention that Archie gets shot by someone who is stalking Senator Kellar and wants to end his life.
The Life with Archie series has been around for four years. The series is expected to conclude soon after Archie Andrews gets shot and killed off in issue #36, taking a bullet meant for his friend, the openly gay Senator Kevin Kellar. Issue #37, in which Archie is posthumously honored a year later for his action in saving his friend, might well be the final installment of the Life with Archie series.
Written By Douglas Cobb