Comics Heroes Are Not Immune to Social Ills

Published: 16th July 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th July 2014 12:09 AM   |  A+A-

The red-headed all-American teen that’s the namesake and mainstay of Archie Comics is going to die. And unlike a lot of comics deaths, it looks like this one is going to stick, because the comic in which it’s happening will be ending its run next month, publishing just one additional issue after Archie dies. The character’s impending death comes in Wednesday’s instalment of “Life with Archie,” a spin-off series that centres on grown-up renditions of Archie and his Riverdale pals.

It brings a bold conclusion to Archie Comics’ four-year-old modern makeover of the squeaky-clean, all-American character. August’s final issue will pick up one year after his death to examine how his friends and loved ones have moved on after his death. Oh, sure, Archie will continue to live on in the myriad other titles in which he is a star, like the comic that bears his name or Betty and Veronica. But in at least one of those titles, Archie will die.

His departure, however, from this vale of sorrows will not be without a controversy because he will come in the way of a bullet which was meant for his friend, the gay senator, Kevin Keller. Readers with a political bent of mind are likely to interpret the death, therefore, as one carrying a message related to social problems peculiar to the US. Is Archie paying the price of his life for drawing attention to the rampant use of guns which is occasionally the cause of tragic massacres for which a lone, deranged gunman is usually responsible? Besides, is Archie also sending a warning signal about the intolerance of those who can even think of killing people who lead an unconventional mode of life? Considering that a majority of the readers of comics are young, although the elderly are not immune to their story lines, the latest foray into the controversial social scene is odd. But, to writers and publishers, anything which sells is kosher.

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