Archie Andrews, the namesake of the 73-year-old comic book franchise, will meet his demise in a forthcoming issue of Life With Archie. According to Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater, "This isn't a random one-off or 'what-if' story that we're doing as a gag… It's a once-in-a-lifetime event, and we are being very considerate about it."
The thing is that Life With Archie is its own series that tells the story of Archie and his friends in the future, after high school and college, when they are all grown up. So Archie will continue to live in the "present" as a teenager.
Each issue of Life With Archie is usually split into two timelines—one in which he's married to Veronica and another in which he ends up with Betty. In July, his fate in both storylines will be the same. Archie apparently dies as a "hero," sacrificing himself for a friend. In an interview with CNN, Goldwater elaborates on what he describes as an "emotional, impactful and classic story that I know will survive the test of time."
We want to not only show how Archie's life ends, but also what he means to the world around him. We want to celebrate his life. After the events of "Life With Archie" #36, fans will leap forward a year to see the aftermath, and how his friends have moved on since his surprising death.
What's Jughead doing? How are Betty and Veronica dealing with the loss? It's not about the attention-grab of the death but about telling a great, evocative story that reminds people why this character is important to the fabric of pop culture — and showing how heroic a normal guy like Archie can be, and how important it is to realize that.
Goldwater promises that they will not be "retconning" (a comic book term for "retroactive continuity") the story, and that Archie's future will not go on beyond his death.
This isn't the first time that Archie Comics has taken risks in the pursuit of modernity. In 2010 the first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, was introduced to its universe. And just last month it was announced that Lena Dunham will be penning a four-part story for the flagship Archie series.