Archie’s Latest Headline Grabbers: Death and Politics

Two recent Archie storylines have gotten them some press outside of the traditional comic sources.

Archie #616

The first uses President Obama and Wannabe Palin to make some kind of point about appropriate and inappropriate campaign strategies — but I think it was really just to get an interview at The Huffington Post. The two-part story runs in Archie #616 (out now) and #617 (due February 8 — quite a wait!).

Archie #616 Variant cover

The variant cover (shown to the left) portrays the politicos as superheroes, with the Archie cast in their heroic alter identities as well. It’s a choice that plays into the stereotype of comics as one genre instead of a medium, although it’s not the first time a battle between the two politicians has been expressed in larger-than-life terms.

The story itself, by Alex Simmons, Dan Parent, and Rich Koslowski, is notably wordy for a typical Archie comic. Archie, pushed by Veronica, and Reggie, backed by psychological manipulator Trula Twyst, are running against each other for student body president. The implications are unpleasant, as the guys appear to be pushed around by the scheming and devious women, who use photos of their candidates with the better-known figures to imply false endorsements.

They clearly expect this story to attract new customers, which it why it’s weird that the characters are so badly introduced and so little explained. I know most people get Archie and Veronica, but Betty’s almost nowhere to be seen, and the little-known Trula deserves more of an introduction. Everyone comes off badly — spineless Archie, evil Veronica, stupid classmates swayed by a picture instead of positions, and most of all, the guest stars, who consider the whole thing worth dropping everything and coming to Riverdale to set the record straight. I suppose it’s a sadly accurate view of how politics today are conducted, and I expect the second issue to make a more idealistic statement about how things should be.

Life With Archie #6

Coming up next week is Life With Archie #6, which managed to make the New York Times for killing Miss Grundy (who had recently married Principal Weatherbee). The cause? Cancer. This alternate-universe magazine series is getting lots of attention for introducing into the Archie universe all those things that don’t fit in the regular stories: broken relationships, struggles with money, and other kinds of general unpleasantness. (Mr. Lodge, particularly, is a two-dimensional tyrant.)

The adult comments at the Times hate the idea of such “real-world” concerns in escapist comics, but teens seem to be enjoying the trauma. After all, compared to the kinds of events they watch on shows such as Gossip Girl and Glee — teen pregnancies, struggles with coming out, drugs, sex, families broken and reformed — this is still relatively tame. The Archie publishing company considers the magazine for “older readers“, but that is contradicted by them putting pictures of teen stars on the cover under the flimsiest of premises. You can see a preview of this issue online.

10 Responses to “Archie’s Latest Headline Grabbers: Death and Politics”

  1. Kevin Moore Says:

    The soda shop cover is charming to me, despite the presence of Teh Palin, whom the artist as seriously Flanderized. Both politicians seem harmless and quaint, neither capable of operating covert wars, predator drones or even shooting a moose.

  2. Jaylat Says:

    I agree with the NYT commenters. Archie comics should be fun, and not veer in predictably “controversial” directions. Next thing you know the gang’ll all be depressed and maimed like Funky Winkerbean (actually that could be fun…).

  3. Johanna Says:

    That’s not the first comparison I’ve seen to that other strip, known for its treatment of a death from cancer as well. I agree, I like the light-hearted Archies more than the over-the-top Life With Archie. But economic concerns and such other problems are more real to me than their teenage readers, who likely find it all remote and thus entertaining in its drama.

  4. James Schee Says:

    I like the Life With stories a lot myself. It reminds me somewhat of the Archie TV movie, where there were a lot of adult complications as well. Plus I don’t know what’ll happen in them from issue to issue.

    I like the original Archie books too, but its nice to see Archie expand a little. Not only do we get these adultish series, but theres also things like the first openly gay Archie character to interracial kiss and the like. There was also the Sabrina manga makeover in the past as well.

    Which has led me to look at Archie as other than this bland, brand keeper publisher.

  5. Mark Says:

    I have no problem with Grundy dieing, it’s in the “Life With Archie” series that is set in the future from the present day Archie comics, and that means some of the older characters are going to be dead or pass, I wouldnt want that type of thing to dominate every issue but one character is fine.

    That said, I do not care for the politics stuff. I have no interest in seeing actual politicans in my comics, and would prefer Archie did not spend time doing stories that prominently feature Obama and Palin.

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