The Archie Comics folks have grown increasingly bold over the last few years, and yesterday they dropped the biggest bombshell of all: They are killing off their flagship character.
A bit of explanation is in order here: Archie Andrews will continue to live his normal life in the regular Archie comics and digests—those will not change. The Archie-dies story will be be the climax of the magazine-style series Life With Archie, which follows the adventures of a twentysomething version of the Riverdale gang. Written by Paul Kupperberg and illustrated by Pat and Tim Kennedy and Fernando Ruiz, the magazine (which was nominated for an Eisner Award) has a dual storyline: In one continuity, Archie is married to Veronica, and in the other, he is married to Betty. The two storylines have some common elements but diverge in other ways, as Kupperberg pointed out in an interview with CBR:
We’ve always had a bit of crossover between the two serials, starting with Jughead owning the Chocklit Shoppe in both. Sure, the details of his life are different in the two story lines, like whether he’s with Midge or Ethel or the appearance of his sister Jellybean or whatever, but the Jughead’s Chocklit Shoppe is a constant in both strips. The same with Kevin and Clay, including Kevin’s senate race and Clay having been shot. Their story crosses the line between the Bettyverse and the Ronnieverse, so I used those constants to anchor the story in #36.
The earlier issues of Life With Archie have been collected into graphic novels, and the final arc will be collected into a graphic novel as well.
While the headlines are all about the death of Archie, there’s another ending to be noted here: The end of Life With Archie. The series will end with issue 36, which will also be published as two regular-format comics, Life With Archie #36 and #37. In issue #36, Archie will die while saving the life of a friend; in issue #37, which takes place a year later, the Riverdale gang will reminisce about their friend. These comic-shop comics provided the opportunity for a number of variant covers by well known comics artists, including Fiona Staples, Francesco Francavilla, and Jill Thompson, and we have a gallery of them below.