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‘Life With Archie’ addresses gun violence in latest issue

This phoprovided by Archie Comics shows cover comic book 'Life with Archie' issue 36. Archie Andrews will die taking bullet

This photo provided by Archie Comics shows the cover of the comic book, "Life with Archie," issue 36. Archie Andrews will die taking a bullet for his gay best friend. The famous freckle-faced comic book icon will die in the July 16, 2014 installment of "Life with Archie" while intervening in the assassination of Kevin Keller, Archie Comics' first openly gay character. (AP Photo/Archie Comics)

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Where to go

Places to get “Life with Archie” No. 36, “Death of Archie”:

» Challengers Comics: 1845 N. Western, Chicago, (773) 278-0155,
challengerscomics.com

» One Stop Comics: 111 S. Ridgeland, Oak Park, (708) 524-2287,
onestopcomics.net

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Updated: July 15, 2014 8:05PM



Oh, Archie! Not the obnoxious and ignorant husband of Edith Bunker but rather the beloved and sensitive resident of fictional Riverdale.

News recently broke that he dies (dies!) in the next installment of Archie Comics’ “Life with Archie.” The series, which originally ran between 1958 and 1991, was resurrected in 2010.

We’ll learn more about the circumstances surrounding his apparent heroic demise on Wednesday, when the latest and second-to-last installment — titled “Death of Archie” (No. 36) and published with five different covers — hits select shelves nationwide.

The latest reports have the friendly and popular Archie taking a bullet for his pal Kevin Keller, the comic’s first openly gay character. But where? Why? From whose gun?

It’ll cost you $4.99 to find out — or just wait until someone leaks it online.

Rick Manzella, owner of One Stop Comics in Oak Park, ordered 100 copies (96 more Archies than he usually buys) and says an “inside source” told him Archie “possibly” gets shot at a school. That’s suspect, seeing as “LWA” Archie and his gang no longer attend Riverdale High, but it’s not out of the question.

“It could end up to be a pretty tough book to get right off the bat,” says Manzella, who is accepting pre-orders by phone or online.

Challengers Comics owner Patrick Brower, however, has only 20 or so copies coming in and says “the buzz is very low for this.”

He’s also much more vague about the storyline, saying the only certainty is that Archie is “going to die.”

“In the images that [Archie Comics] have revealed, it looks like he’s been shot, but we don’t know for sure.”

The image to which Brower refers depicts a red splotch (presumably blood) that has seeped through Archie’s white dress shirt around his abdomen. His girlfriends-turned-wives Betty and Veronica (he’s no polygamist; each “Life with Archie” book carries parallel storylines imagining Archie’s life post-Riverdale High with both women) kneel before him, their faces registering shock and/or surprise as stunned others seem to scurry from the scene.

While that’s heavy subject matter for a comic book, both Manzella and Brower say the series often mirrors real-world issues and difficulties. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, cancer — they’ve all been tackled. Now add gun violence — a hot topic in Chicago and the United States at large — to the list.

“Archie is the most progressive publisher there is as far as being on top of current issues,” says Brower. “If there are things that happen in real life, Archie is the main publisher that seems to represent those same issues in their comics.”

Then again, there’s also the fairly new “Afterlife with Archie,” which has its namesake battling zombies.

“We’ve been building up to this moment since we launched ‘Life with Archie’ five years ago,” Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater (whose father, John L. Goldwater, dreamed up Archie in 1941) said in a statement, “and knew that any book that was telling the story of Archie’s life as an adult had to also show his final moment.”

Issue No. 37, out July 23 and also given the five-covers treatment, will focus on how Riverdale and Archie’s pals are dealing with his absence a year later.

As for what’s next, only the Archie writers know. Don’t expect any miraculous rising from the dead, though. Archie is Everyman, after all, not Superman.

“But as with any good comic book death story,” Brower says, “the death is just the beginning.”

Email: mthomas@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MikeTScribe



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