Maybe that viral story about redheads going extinct wasn’t a complete hoax after all.
Archie Andrews, star of the long-running Archie Comics universe, will take a bullet on Wednesday in a fearless leap to save his gay friend from an assassination attempt. The 73-year-old character’s impending death was first announced in April when Jon Goldwater, co-CEO of Archie Comics Publications Inc., said in an interview with CNN that Riverdale’s famous ginger will go out a hero in “Life with Archie,” which explores Archie’s life as an adult.
On Monday, Goldwater told the Associated Press that Archie will thwart an assassination attempt on Kevin Keller, the comic’s first openly gay character. Keller is a wounded military veteran and newly elected U.S. senator pushing for tougher gun-control laws. His would-be assassin is being kept a secret until the issue goes on sale Wednesday, but the issue’s cover shows Archie lying unconscious with a sprawling stain of blood across his gut. Appropriately, he's flanked by his two longtime lady friends, Betty and Veronica.
Keller made his first appearance in a 2010 issue of “Veronica,” in which the dark-haired heiress pursued a romantic relationship with him before learning of his sexuality. The character proved so popular that he was given his own solo title, “Kevin Keller,” which debuted in July 2011. Despite a boycott effort by the conservative group One Million Moms, an issue featuring Keller’s marriage to his African-American partner, Clay Walker, sold out when it hit newsstands in 2012. In a Reddit AMA last year, Keller’s creator, Dan Parent, “thanked” the homophobic group for boosting sales.
Archie’s demise will take place in “Life with Archie” No. 36. The following issue will pick up a year later and will focus on how his friends are dealing with his demise. Of course, this being the world of comic books, the famous redhead will continue to live on in various other Archie universes. He typically appears as a high school student, but for readers who prefer their Archies with a little less life, there’s even an “Afterlife with Archie,” in which the town of Riverdale is beset by a zombie apocalypse.
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In death, Archie joins the ranks of famous comic book icons from Peter Parker to Captain America. Superman ushered in the trend with the much-hyped storyline “The Death of Superman” in 1992, when the Man of Steel fought a fatal battle against the supervillain Doomsday -- only to be brought back to life less than a year later. Although Goldwater insisted that Archie would be gone for good (from "Life with Archie," at least), we know better than to rule out a resurrection.