Diehard Archie fans know that the Riverdale gang occasionally do a turn as superheroes; Archie Andrews first donned the cape of Pureheart the Powerful back in 1965, and he even had his own Pureheart comic for a short while. There was also an Archie Super-Teens comic in the 1990s that only ran for four issues.
Now Kevin Keller, Archie’s first openly gay character, is getting his own superhero persona, The Equalizer, in issues #14 and #15 of Kevin Keller. As writer and artist Dan Parent explains, he will team up with Veronica to fight crimes: “Of course, she always sort of screws things up, because at the same time he’s trying to solve a crime and fix Veronica’s mistakes too,” he told IGN. “It’s kind of silly, in a way. It’s kind of nice.”
Naturally, Parent has put some thought into Kevin’s superhero name. The equal sign has been linked with the campaign for marriage equality, but Parent says it goes beyond that:
It’s not a term that we made up, obviously — it’s been used for batteries and TV shows — the word’s been used before. But it just symbolized him, because he stands for equality, and that’s what he’s trying to do. When he becomes a superhero, first he helps an old lady who’s getting attacked, then he saves this kid from getting made fun of, which, you know, he’s been in that place before. Then also, if a real crime is being committed, he’ll help stop that too. He’s an equal opportunity provider.
Although he will be a superhero, Kevin won’t have any superpowers—instead, he will be like Batman, someone who relies on his own strength and skills, along with some special gadgets. Veronica even sets him up with his own secret retreat: “She kind of builds their own version of a Batcave, but it’s Veronica-style, so it’s kind of like a cross between a Batcave and a mall,” Parent says.
Superhero stories bring up all kinds of interesting themes, and it sounds like Parent is exploring them—secret identities, vulnerability, and so on. In Kevin’s case, it may turn out that Veronica is his Kryptonite—despite, or perhaps because of, her desire to help.