There’s good news and bad news for Archie comic book readers.
The bad news: The red-headed character will die in a coming issue of the franchise that began more than 70 years ago.
The good news: Archie will remain a mensch to the end.
On Tuesday, Archie Comics publisher Jon Goldwater announced that the eternal teenager will die while trying to save a friend in a July issue of Life with Archie, the spinoff series documenting the fictional character’s life after high school and college.
“We’ve been building up to this moment since we launched Life with Archie five years ago,” Goldwater said. “We knew that any book that was telling the story of Archie’s life as an adult had to also show his final moment.”
Archie will reportedly sacrifice himself while saving the life of a friend in issue 36, which is slated to hit stores on July 16.
A sneak peak shows an unconscious Archie on the cover with a large stain on his shirt. And the stain doesn’t appear to have been the result of a spilled malted at Pop Tate’s.
And while that issue shows Archie shuffling off this mortal coil, the next one jumps ahead one year to show how the surviving members of the Riverdale gang – Jughead, Betty, Veronica and Reggie, et al. – have honoured their friend’s memory.
“It’s the biggest story we’ve ever done and we’re supremely proud of it,” said Goldwater.
Created by Vic Bloom and Bob Montana in 1941, the fictional character of Archie Andrews has spawned several incarnations of comic books, as well as a radio program and animated TV series.
In recent years, Archie Comic Publications have updated its storytelling tack to reflect the times, which included the arrival of the franchise’s first openly gay character, named Kevin Keller, in 2010.
And in a nod to the success of The Walking Dead, the publisher even launched a series titled Afterlife with Archie, in which the character battled zombies and similar undead creatures.