Riverdale is in for a shock as its favorite son, the easygoing redhead Archie Andrews, is fated to die in an upcoming comic, CNN has reported.
But as is often the case in comic-books deaths, Archie won’t be disappearing altogether -- not from the page or from the pop-culture consciousness. In fact, he and the rest of the Riverdale gang are also intending to make the leap to the big screen.
Archie will meet his maker in issue No. 36 of “Life With Archie,” a flash-forward series that presents two future timelines of Archie as an adult: one in which he is married to Betty and one in which he’s married to Veronica. In both stories of the penultimate issue, which will be released in July, Archie will sacrifice himself to save the life of a friend. The 37th issue, set one year later, will wrap up the series.
The main “Archie” comic, in which Archie is forever a teenager, will continue unaffected.
Killing off Archie, albeit outside the main publication, is the latest in a series of recent shakeups and reimaginations aimed at making the enduring comic franchise, which began in 1941 and was originally inspired by Mickey Rooney’s Andy Hardy films, more relevant to contemporary readers.
For example, the openly gay character Kevin Keller was introduced in 2010, and last month, “Girls” creator Lena Dunham signed on to write four issues of an “Archie” comic due in 2015.
Last October saw the launch of the new series “Afterlife With Archie,” which is set in a Riverdale overrun by zombies. The series, a surprise hit, is written by playwright, screenwriter and comic book scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a veteran of “Glee” and “Big Love.”
Aguirre-Sacasa, who became Archie Comics’ new chief creative officer in March, is also writing the script for a live-action “Archie” movie for Warner Bros. After news of the deal broke in June, Aguirre-Sacasa told The Times’ Hero Complex that it would be “a straight-up teen movie. It’s Archie’s coming-of-age story. Hopefully, it will be the ‘Archie’ movie people have been anticipating for 70-plus years.” (There have been TV adaptations but no definitive big-screen treatment.)
Just last month, however, Aguirre-Sacasa and Archie Chief Executive Jon Goldwater said the success of “Afterlife With Archie” had them reconsidering their options.
“‘Afterlife’ is a big game-changer for ‘Archie,’ ” Aguirre-Sacasa told Comic Book Resources. “It has made us think, ‘Wow, should the “Archie” movie be an “Afterlife” movie? Should “Afterlife” be a TV series?’ We took a little bit of a beat to figure out, because whatever our first big thing is going to be, obviously, that’s going to define the company in a major way. So we want to get it right.”
In other words, Archie is dead; long live Archie.