Oh, for God's sake. The latest sign that the world is spinning madly out of control:
It breaks my heart a little to learn that Archie Andrews, the freckle-faced teenager who has graced comic books since 1941, is going to die. At least temporarily. In an event comic book that seems inspired by his constantly resurrecting superhero peers, Archie Comics will kill off its hero to end the “Life With Archie” series, which flash-forwarded into different versions of Archie’s future as an adult.
“Archie dies as he lived — heroically,” Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater told the New York Post. “He dies saving the life of a friend and does it in his usual selfless way. Archie has always been a representation of us — the best of us. Our strengths and our faults.”
At least the teenage Archie and his pals will keep going on. But how fun will it be to read those comics with the knowledge that one version of his future life includes his "heroic death"? I've always made it a point to avoid those TV movies "ripped from the headlines," and I think it's probably a pretty good idea to avoid comic books that try to deal with current real-life issues. In one version of Archie's future, he marries Betty, in another one Veronica. So now he dies, and the "Life With Archie" series is over. Shouldn't they keep it around awhile so they can make Archie a gay, anti-gun, green-energy advocate?
Fantasy serves a noble purpose and should not be messed with. I've met a person or two with really bad childhoods who intensely loathed "Leave it to Beaver" and other TV shows idealizing suburban life because, dammit, that's not the way real life is. But what's wrong with having the ideal out there as a model? I also know the Old West we all know is a myth created by Hollywood and early pulp writers. So what? The myth is a larger-than-life struggle between absolute good and absdolute evil. Who can't be inspirted by that?
The Washington Post's Alyssa Rosenberg:
We all know that Archie Andrews’s preternaturally extended teenage years are a fantasy. But making the comics, however temporarily, about death rather than life, turns away from the franchise’s core purpose. Superhero and crime comics teach us about all the ways we can die. Archie Andrews, in all his bumbling, indecisive, lovelorn foolishness, has always been a character who taught us how we want to live.
That's overthinking it a bit, I suppose, like writing your doctoral thesis on "The Andy Griffith Show," but I get her point.