Yes, it’s true, on July 16, 2014, comic book's perpetual teenager Archie Andrews will die, sacrificing himself to save a friend in the pages of Life With Archie #36. As broken on CNN.com, this is just the latest in a string of major moments in the worlds of Archie Comics, most of which have occurred in the Life With Archie series. The ongoing comic, which will end with his death in what Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater calls the “natural conclusion,” has featured the future of Archie and his pals, as they face adulthood.
Previously in the series, which tell stories set in parallel timelines, one in which the titular character married to long-time girlfriend Betty and one in which he married her long-tine friend/rival-to-Archie's affections Veronica. Goldwater says that “Archie’s final fate in both timelines… they’re the same,” so this is how his life ends no matter which path he chooses. That explains the cover image, of course, with both of the redhead from Riverdale’s paramours cradling him as he passes.
”Archie dies as he lived – heroically,” Goldwater explains. “He dies saving the life of a friend, and does it in his usual selfless way.”
The story, written by Paul Kupperberg, is meant to show Archie as a “representation of the best of us,” and as far as Goldwater is concerned this is the death of Archie. The story will leap forward a year for the final issue, Life With Archie #37 after his death itself, and focus on the world of his friends without him. With that, the publisher hopes to show “how heroic a normal guy like Archie can be, and how important it is to realize that.”
This is the latest in a series of self-identified “risky” moves for Archie Comics in recent years. They were the first publisher to move to digital publishing on the same day as print; they introduced a gay character into Riverdale named Kevin Keller, who also got married to his partner in the future timeline of Life With Archie. Archie Comics married off Archie to each of his loves to see how things would play out, and they even did the truly unthinkable - released a mature-rated, serious-toned horror comic about the zombie apocalypse coming to Riverdale in Afterlife With Archie.
This Archie, in his future world, won’t be coming back from the grave, however.
”This is how Archie dies. That’s how we approached this story and how we’re treating it.