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images property of Archie Comics Group

Comics Publisher Murders 73 Year-Old Man

[via Archie Comics Group]

Greetings and salutations, fellow Fridge Nukers! Bradfield here, reporting from a corner booth at Pop’s Soda Shoppe, located in beautiful, scenic, Downtown Riverdale.

“Archie Meets Uncle Dirtnap”

Main cover, Life with Archie #36

2013 and 2014 have been banner years for iconic comics character, the perennially indecisive ginger, Archie Andrews, and friends. Between a crossover with TV’s Glee — in which I’m assuming the song “Sugar, Sugar” must have come up — and the “Riverdale Gang vs. Zombies” miniseries, Afterlife with Archie, the now 73 year-old characters are once again resonating with a new generation of comics readers, as well as longtime fans. Unfortunately, much like Elvis Presley, Archie is doomed to die just as his career was back on an upswing.

That’s right, Fridge Nukers! Archie Comics Group is killing their flagship character this coming July!

Before you write that angry letter…

Alternate cover, featuring The Archies, sans their frontman

While Archie might be the first non-superhero American icon to face the Grim Reaper, like Superman, The Punisher, Spider-Man (ultimate and regular continuity), and Captain America before him, he isn’t really going to die. Sort of. Yes, Archie Andrews will meet his maker saving a friend from an act of violence in Life with Archie #36 (on sale in July). However, this doesn’t mean that Kevin Keller will be retconned into a straight guy and shoved into the spotlight. Nor does it mean the death of the “Archie” line of comics.

Rather, the only thing about Archie that is going away is the Life with Archie title. Originally published from 1951 to 1991, LWA was just another one of the many “Archie” books in the specialty shops and magazine racks, but with an adventure slant. [Scooby Doo without the talking dog.] In 2010, the title was revived as a more mature, serious comic telling two ongoing soap opera-style, alternate universe stories, one in which Archie marries Veronica Lodge, and the other in which he marries Betty Cooper both universes being observed by Dilton Doiley, who is now a scientist. Though popular with longtime readers because of a fresh slant on classic characters, the narratives are rather grim. For example, in one story, Miss Grundy dies of renal failure.

“You Don’t Miss Your Water (Till Your Well Runs Dry)”

Another alternate cover where the Riverdale Gang remembers the good times

When the death of a comics icon is announced, there are generally two fan reactions: public outcry and a spike in sales for the “death of…” issue. Obviously, there’s really no need for the former. “Archie” books will still be on the shelves, and the titular hero will go out in a noble way. Further, if a character’s death ultimately reminds people what they love about him/her, that isn’t a bad thing.

With regard to the latter… while I wouldn’t discourage anybody from buying the book — like I said, Archie’s been on a roll — I would encourage people who consider comics an “investment” to keep things in perspective. Before you purchase a dozen copies in the hopes of sending your child to college on the profits, remember that you can still get a sealed copy of Superman’s death for around $5 – and that’s an over 20 year-old book. You can find Popeye’s wedding in the 25-cent bins. If the publisher was closing its doors and it was definitely the last Archie book EVER, maybe. However, there are three certain things in life: death, taxes and the publication of Archie Comics, and if you didn’t learn your lesson with the death of Spider-Man, I can’t help you.