Ever since the start of April, it has been known that "Archie Comics" would be making their own play at mass media recognition with their own "death" story line. It had been known that it would occur in the magazine "Life With Archie #36" and then seen an epilogue in the 37th and final issue of a series which sought to follow what path Archie's life would have taken had he married either Betty or Veronica. The series is written by Paul Kupperberg with art by Pat and Tim Kennedy, and has been a success in places where most comic book companies have long since abandoned - the magazine section in retail chain stores. Now, with the penultimate issue of "Life With Archie" due to ship this week, co-CEO of "Archie Comics" has shared details about it in order to drum up interest, and thus sales. It may seem inane, but it is exactly the strategy that both Marvel and DC Comics have long employed every time they do a "death of" story.
As revealed to the Associated Press as well as Comic Book Resources, the life of Archie Andrew is cut down in defense of a friend. In "Life With Archie", not just the titular hero or his romantic partners have aged, so have the rest of his cast. Newer creation Kevin Keller - an openly gay ex-soldier - has since become the senator of Riverdale. It seems his sexual orientation as well as his anti-gun political stance has earned him an enemy, and Archie essentially takes a bullet for Keller. "The way in which Archie dies is everything that you would expect of Archie. He dies heroically. He dies selflessly. He dies in the manner that epitomizes not only the best of Riverdale but the best of all of us. It's what Archie has come to represent over the past almost 75 years," Goldwater said. Although "Life With Archie" has followed two paths, those paths will become one as the "death" occurs. The assailant is unknown; probably suspects could be Reggie Mantle, Pop Tate or even Principal Weatherby.
It is easy to imagine how Archie's superhero rivals would handle this death affair. Would Archie seemingly return as one of four impostors - Archie-Boy, Steel-Archie, Archinator, or Cyber-Archie? Would Reggie merely swap minds with Archie for 15 months and live as "the Superior Archie Andrews"? Would Archie merely be shot by "time bullets" and return just in time for his latest film? Would Marvel Comics' Punisher, who met Archie in an infamous one-shot from 1994, storm into Riverdale to avenge him? Or would it all be a dream?
Instead, this seems as another of Jon Goldwater's attempts to branch out "Archie Comics" content beyond one audience, but to many. There are always the main "Archie" comics and digests for children, as well as the "Afterlife with Archie" zombie epic for older fans of horror (which is set to spawn a "Sabrina" spin off). "Life With Archie" sought to appeal to older fans who wished to see the hero and his cast grow up and move on, at least for a time. Increased sales and attention would seem to suggest that Goldwater's efforts have been fruitful, especially as "Archie Comics" are among the last American comics to still be sold in grocery stories or retail chains (such as "Rite Aide") nationwide. Goldwater has twigged that he can offer multiple versions of the same franchise to different audiences without worrying about tying it all together.
Archie's "Red Circle" to become "Dark Circle"!
Here is another sign that Jon Goldwater is emulating what his competition is doing to elevate "Archie Comics" to new heights. Although the company has long had a series of comics based around their titular star, they've long struggled to succeed with the stable of American comics - superheroes. They have licensed comics based on video games ("Sonic the Hedgehog" and "Mega Man"), occasional forays into the supernatural ("Sabrina the Teenage Witch"), and even forays into horror ("Afterlife with Archie"). Yet their "Red Circle" of superhero comics have often struggled to make a splash, and that is why now the imprint is being relaunched.
Editor Alex Segura is overseeing the project, which will rechristen the line as "Dark Circle Comics". The goal is to drop the "all ages" rating for the imprint and open up the line to not only more "mature" superhero comics, but also crime and "off the wall" action series. It seems to be an admission that if one is going to do superheroes these days, they've got to be "dark".
Valiant attracts more top draw talent!
Valiant Entertainment is not entering it's third year of it's rebirth, and is showing no sign of slowing down. The company has announced a new mini series for December, called "The Valiant" by Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt, with art by Paolo Rivera. The four issue series will follow the Eternal Warrior and the Geomancers as they fight "the Eternal Enemy". In addition, Clay Mann becomes the latest creator to sign an exclusive contract for Valiant. His first work under it will be "X-0 MANOWAR #0", after several years doing art for a variety of Marvel Comics. Other creators exclusive at Valiant right now include Doug Braithwaite, Cafu, Joshua Dysart, Clayton Henry, Trevor Hairsine, and Cary Nord.