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Why Couldn't They Just Leave Archie Alone!

A couple of months ago my daughter – out of the blue – got super into Archie. Yes, that Archie, the freckle-faced red-headed teen who has been entertaining kids since 1941. My very modern child totally went all old-school. In a recent issue of "Archie's Double Digest" that my daughter begged for me to buy her at our local Safeway, there was a story titled, “Fit to be Tidy,” about Archie’s dad struggling to get his son to clean his room, and “Hiccup Hang Up,” about Veronica dealing with a bad case of, yes, hiccups. It’s all good old-fashioned comic book escapism; but this is not the case in "Life of Archie," the more adult-centric off-shoot of the brand that is about to release their final issue.

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You know what the "Life of Archie" crew went and did in the final chapter of the series? They killed off Archie! Yes, the beloved teen that has been a staple (albeit a less popular one lately) for generations died — and in a totally dramatic and an over-the-top way.

In the final installment of the comic book, Archie is killed after he intervenes in an assassination attempt on the openly gay senator Kevin Keller. This isn’t the first time the comic book has addressed serious issues. They’ve tackled marriage equality and gun control, which are a far cry from Veronica’s issues with hiccups. But this is what I don’t understand: Why Archie?

Shouldn’t some characters just live in a world where everything is “peachy-keen”? Do we really need to make everything “real"?

Yeah, I get that they want to get all heavy and relevant, but to kill off the main character, a character that is such a popular culture icon, in an assassination attempt seems to be totally overkill. The publishers apparently wanted to make a statement, and make news, and they succeeded on both counts. They also wanted a heroic end to Archie’s story arch, and having him save his gay best friend and to die in the process was the road they opted to travel.

"He dies selflessly," said Jon Goldwater, Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO, speaking to the Associated Press. "He dies in the manner that epitomizes not only the best of Riverdale but the best of all of us."

To me, Archie’s world is a safe one, a one where the main issues are what to order at the soda shop, whether to take Betty or Veronica to the sock hop or, yes, the not-so-heavy topic of hiccups.

"Archie is not a superhero like all the rest of the comic book characters," Goldwater stated. "If anything, I think his death is more impactful because of that. We hope by showing how something so violent can happen to Archie, that we can — in some way — learn from him."

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But shouldn’t some characters just live in a world where everything is “peachy-keen”? Do we really need to make everything “real”? As Goldwater said, Archie is not a superhero, and he isn’t like the rest of the comic book characters out there. And you know what, that is what I like about him and probably what the readers of the last 73 years have liked too. Can’t we just leave him and his Riverdale pals alone?

So while my daughter is curled up reading Archie’s adventure in “Retail Whirl” I have to hold back on the urge to declare, “You know he dies in the end!” That would be an epic spoiler. Part of the charm of these characters — from Archie to Mickey Mouse to Spiderman — is that they NEVER die. They are immortal in our fantasy worlds to live on to entertain the next generation. It’s an innocent place that is safe from the world’s trials and tribulations, and that is where I’d like to see my daughter play in while she can before she has to deal with the harsher realities that plague our real world ... and even Archie’s fictional one.

What do you think of Archie being killed off?

Image via Life With Archie

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