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The Cosmic Treadmill Mourns THE DEATH OF ARCHIE (GN Review)

“I can’t live…if living is without you.” 
— Badfinger via Nilsson

The crumb bums finally did it! First it was Robin, then Superman, and soon it will be Wolverine.

In issue #36 of the time-jumping future tale that is Life With Archie, our waffle headed friend heroically falls in one last good deed while surrounded by friends at Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are sad to report to you about The Death of Archie.

With so much real world tragedy these days (see: everything) a nice place to escape is to Riverdale. The politics in that town seem to be more progressive than IRL, ice cream sodas are the soup du jour and everyone picks up litter in the park, even stodgy 1%-er Mr. Lodge realizes that you need to give back every once in a while. He’s not a monster! In fact, he knows how to defend against monsters pretty well.

I go back to the well of Archie Comics on occasion (in fact, in the last couple of years I would consider myself a serious fan!) to remind myself of the very first comic books I’ve ever read. I wonder how common that is.

As early as five years old, I remember visiting the old barbershop having copies for us. Covers stripped off, pages torn, old Jughead playing the part of another favorite burger-loving character from a movie I couldn’t get enough of at the time, Wimpy in Robin William’s Popeye! Another detail I noticed at the time was that The Archies were reading comics themselves in the comics. Whoa. First level Inception. These must be good. Where can I get more? I would then forget about comics all together until once again my bowl cut required a much needed trimming.

From supermarket shelves to barbershop floors all the way to random copies at the shared family vacation ‘camp’ (where trips to the Army/Navy store supplied all that my cousin and I needed to become G.I. Joe Arashikage ninja blood brothers), Archie was always around.

And, I know, this is a ‘fantasy’ story set in the future of the ‘current’ timeline where Archie always sits, but I’m sad that we lost Archie!

Archie Comics releases Life with Archie #36 and #37 as The Death Of Archie: A Life Celebrated out today. Included with the two stories is bonus material celebrating Arch since his first appearance in Pep Comics #22 in 1941.

Writer Paul Kupperberg ends the Life with Archie and Archie: The Married Life with these two issues. He manages to stay true to the most important relationship — the triangle between Archie, Betty and Veronica — in part #1, in a way that makes both Team Betty and Team Veronica fans happy.

The Married Life splits the timeline on Memory Lane and explores marriage with each girl. The finale is masterfully agnostic, showing only that both Betty and Veronica love their oldest friend and each other very much. At this point in history, Jughead is in charge of the Chok’lit Shoppe, the infamous crime scene where Archie is killed!

One of my favorite silent panels in the history of comics appears in the book right after the violent act.

Part #2 is post-mortem stories being told of Archie’s generosity and kindness. No one is allowed to cry or be melancholy at the celebration of his life where Mr. Weatherbee and Kevin Keller honor the man on a dais on the football field at Riverdale High.

Back at the Chok’lit Shoppe, the potential of youth is observed by Jughead, Reggie, Betty and Veronica by way of someone else sharing a frozen treat. The circle of life continues to churn.

In retelling stories from the past, including the one in which Little Archie convinces Lodge to repair the park, everyone gets to remember Archie in the best light.

As a final issue of the infamous The Married Life run, I’m able to go back and re-read the issues I missed and continue to have a lasting relationship with Archie and The Archies. This is one heck of a way to end the series and one of the most satisfying desserts to a really full meal.

Archie Comics as a company continues to quietly redefine classic characters with timeless appeal and breathe fresh air into the market by appealing to adults and children.

What’s next for Archie Comics? Hopefully more great stuff and plenty of straws to share it with.

For more details visit archiecomics.com and Archie Digital
Follow Archie Comics on Twitter / Become a Fan on Facebook

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