Mar 24, 2017
The 40 Years of Comics Project Friday Magazine 6: Life With Archie #36 Double-Sized Commemorative Issue, 2010
I've been fairly effusive with my praise of Archie Comics over the last few years. They seem to have hit a creative peak that's been going on so long it may as well be a plateau. Except for the fact that they keep striving upward. I know that the new Riverdale Netflix series isn't for everyone, but it represents yet another iteration of these characters that's very different and very much the same. I've often thought that this is the magic of these characters. They have developed such archetypal behaviours, in that each has behaviours archetypal to the character, that a skilled writer can insert them into virtually any setting or genre. Though this has most recently been demonstrated by the amazing Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and, of course, the series from which today's magazine hails, I think the first time I realized it was when I read Archie meets The Punisher. Two of perhaps the most disparate characters in comics, and yet they meshed remarkably well.
So, yes, I teared up quite a bit reading this comic. It's a sad comic, and a lovely celebration of all that is Archie Andrews. I don't quite know the timing, but it also seems to me that this issue came out not too long before the company-wide reshuffling that has resulted in many of the reconceived, and by all reports amazing, line of Archie comics. Though perhaps there was more time between those than I'm thinking. The final story of this series is actually quite cleverly pulled off. The premise of the whole series is two parallel timelines, one in which Archie marries Veronica, and one in which he marries Betty. But in this final story, it's not clear which universe we're watching. There's never a clear shot of Archie's wife when he interacts with her, and no indication of his career path. It's clever because there's a lot of differences with all of the characters between the two universes, but the dialogue is vague enough that we can't draw any real conclusions. Archie jogs, and reflects on his life, wonders, ominously, what has put him in such a nostalgic mood, and is then shot later that night, protecting Kevin Keller.
It was sad. And excellent.