Everybody will be talking about it: Archie Andrews is dead. Well, at least for a couple of hours, because everyone knows nobody dies forever in comics. But it’s how the death issue transpires that matters most—just look at how terrible Brand New Day was and you’ll note the missed opportunity. So is this a missed opportunity? Is it good?
Life with Archie #36 (Archie Comics)
This series was rebooted back in 2010 and is pretty great; we get to see Archie’s life if he chose Betty or Veronica, seeing how the parallel worlds were different from each other. The clever aspect to this particular issue however, is that we see his tragic end. It’s framed in a way that is cleverly done. Leading up to his sad end is plenty of recap of the important ancillary characters and how they’ve affected him. Oh, and anyone who’s brand new to the series but would like to read how it all goes down, there is a hefty two page summary to recap all that’s happened since the series began.
What an oddly shaped kid.
This issue comes in at 48 pages and serves as the penultimate issue written by Paul Kupperberg. That’s a lot of pages, but they’re all used to help us get inside Archie’s head and see how he views life these days. The most important aspect is that he’s happy and hopeful. Life is great, he couldn’t have it any better, and he knows he’s got many more years to enjoy himself. If ever there was a script to make you aware life is precious it’s right here. Kupperberg spends plenty of time showing how successful Archie is with a very happy family. Even though he’s excited to keep living day to day, it’s safe to say he’s lived a fulfilling life up until now.
There’s also a compelling argument made by Archie himself about how fate plays a role in life. It’s a funny concept because the very premise of the series shows two different fates, but still works because both universes end the same way. It’s suggesting, then, that maybe some things are fated to happen, but not everything. The final image of the comic—not of Archie dead, but of a very symbolic object very important to this series—makes this fate concept even more sound.
How he bites the bullet has already made the major media rounds (boy do they love their comic book death headlines), so you already know he died a hero. I do take issue with outlets like Fox News who seem to think it’s important to point out the person he saved was gay, as if that even matters, but in a sense this is good. Sparking debate and conversation makes this comic all the more important and great.
There is one issue I had with this comic and that’s the length. It doesn’t feel like it needs to be this long. In a lot of ways this is a eulogy of sorts, a saying goodbye, so it makes sense, but halfway through I was getting antsy and wanted to see how he could ever be threatened with death.
Who’s hand is he holding?!
The art by Pat & Tim Kennedy is good, as good as any Archie needs to be. Obviously the style is simpler and from an older era. The final scenes played out very well and it’s obvious the layout and pace was very well thought out. How exactly his last words are said is pretty awesome too. My only gripe would be the color of the blood, which almost looks like ketchup. I’m sure it was a style choice due to the younger audience of this soap opera of a book, but it dulls the impact.
Pop of color!
Is It Good?
For all intents and purposes this is a successful comic. If you’re not keyed into the Archie universe you may lose interest when he recaps the importance of some of the lesser known co-stars, but the final pages and overall message is rock solid.