Is the death of Archie yet another marketing gimmick or a much-needed twist in the tale that’s losing ground?

It wasn’t long ago that we were wondering if comic’s favourite protagonist, the red-headed teenager with freckles, Archie Andrew, would marry Betty or Veronica. And then of course, fans of the series were introduced to its first gay character, Kevin Keller, and we were even witness to Archie take on a zombie apocalypse. But ever since news broke out that the creators were going to kill Riverdale’s most popular youngster, someone who people like us have grown up with, social media has been swamped with RIP messages, not to forget hate mail to the makers of Archie Comics!

The lead character will meet his end in “Life With Archie,” a flash-forward series, the cover of issue No. 36 showing him in a pool of blood, cradled by the two most important women in his life, with his eyes closed and his shirt stained red. “Archie dies as he lived — honourably, and saving the life of a friend,” Jon Goldwater, the publisher and co-chief executive of Archie Comics, said in a statement.

And while Archie fans are in a tizzy debating if this is yet another marketing gimmick or a much needed twist in the tale that’s losing ground, city folk too express their views.

Akhil Sukumaran, a business analyst, says: “Though it’s been a while since I’ve read an Archie comic, I wouldn’t say his death would definitely affect me. I wouldn’t expect it to affect kids today. But this is a very old series and I’m quite sure that a lot of people across ages would be sad that a figure from their childhood is gone. The popularity of the series seems to have decreased of late and the creators must've gotten desperate, which is sad. I would've preferred if they ended the series gracefully (like Friends, perhaps?) rather than resorting to a trick like this.”

Nikhil Kumar, a social media lead in a city based MNC, opines: “Archie and gang have had a tremendous impact on my life and continue to do so. And I’m sure there are so many others who swear by the founding principles of the gang’s antics. The news of Archie’s death is simply infuriating. Maybe the creators couldn’t sustain the popularity of the comic. They tried a lot of stunts to connect with the millennial kids of today but unfortunately in vain. For people like me who grew up in the 80s and 90s, Archie is as relevant as he always was and the Riverdale gang will always be the ones who taught me the best practical jokes and the greatest pickup lines!”

With comic series introducing new plots in an alternate life/universe, Omi Gurung, a fashion entrepreneur says: “I’ve grown up reading Archie comics. To learn that the iconic character will sacrifice his life to save a life is a mixed feeling. I hope they introduce a new avatar of Archie, and I can only wish that the new will be as good as the old.”

For those who don’t believe in the mortality of heroes, the news of Archie dying is mortifying. “For a comic that is sold by his name, it is so hard to believe that the makers couldn’t come up with a better way to end a legendry series like this. I wouldn’t even mind if Archie married Betty and had kids and they brought in a new generation. Even Archie who with all his larking about wouldn’t pull of a stunt like this, I think the creators of the comic now have a bad sense of humour with the publicity stunt they’re pulling off,” whines Neyoshi Dhingra, a student of media studies.

News has it that the issue to follow will leap forward a year and will look at how the rest of the Riverdale troop, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Archie’s best friend, Jughead Jones and his friend, Reggie Mantle, deal with his death. Only time will tell how his fans around the globe will muddle through their bereavement!

NEETI SARKAR

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