Well, actually, Riverdale High School’s most famous student—sometimes boyfriend of Betty and/or Veronica—is only getting killed off in one comic book series.
No, really. Archie Comics announced last week that its namesake will die heroically while saving a friend in an upcoming issue of “Life With Archie,” which is the serious (sorta) publication dealing with more complex plots (sorta) than its other Archie comics.
But here’s the kicker. Archie will only be dead in that particular comic book. In the others he’ll still cut physics class to hang out at Pop’s Malt Shop.
Sounds a little strange, right? What does it mean?
I mean besides the obvious conclusion that after 73 years they’ve just about run out of ideas. It means the continuity of comics characters, even the most famous ones, continues to be as cockeyed as it was when I used to read them back in the early 1960s.
I read all the Superman family series then and there were a bunch. When they ran out of ideas they would run stories which, at first glance, would have brought a conclusion to the whole shootin’ match.
They killed Superman, two or three times, married him off to each of his girlfriends, had him living on planets other than earth, had him remain on his home planet of Krypton, (which didn’t explode), had him shaking Lois Lane by the shoulders and saying “you idiot, you’re supposed to be a hot-shot reporter, but I put on a pair of glasses and suddenly you can’t tell who I am?”
Okay, so I made that last one up.
How did they get away with all those plots, which would, of course, have ended the Superman narrative on the spot?
They called them “imaginary stories.”
You see the problem, don’t you? (You might want to cover your eyes before you read the next sentence if you’re Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory.”)
They’re all imaginary stories!
So what we had were real imaginary stories and imaginary imaginary stories. That made my head hurt, even when I was 10.
But they didn’t stop there. National Comics (also known as DC), publishers of Superman and a bunch more, began to paint itself into a corner in the 1950s when it brought back some of its famous characters from the 30s and 40s but as different people.
So DC decided there were earths in different dimensions, so we could have an Earth One Flash and an Earth Two Flash.
Then there had to be an Earth Three, full of super villains. Then there was a super horse, a super cat, a planet full of not-really alive idiot imitations of Superman, and Wonder Woman ended up being three versions of herself as a baby, a teen and an adult, all at the same time.
By the late 1980s it was so ridiculous DC ran a big cataclysmic series, killed most everybody off and started over. I think that’s what happened. Nobody really understood what was going on.
Then they just ignored what had happened and brought some of them back anyway in the 1990s.
Must have been an imaginary real imaginary story.
So I wouldn’t be too worried about Archie. Guess they think we’re all jugheads.