Major Characters To Be Killed Off, Universe Simplified, Publisher Says
(MAMARONECK, NY) In order to reverse decades in declining sales and simplify its universe of characters, Archie Comics has announced it will engage in a “major housecleaning” in the spring of 2013, including the killing off of at least a few major characters.
Archie Comics president Brian Stevens announced at a press release the publication of Archie: Battle For Riverdale, a six-part miniseries that will debut on newsstands in March, 2013. In it, a deadly virus will be unleashed on Riverdale, the hometown of Archie and his pals Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and the rest. “Make no mistake,” Stevens told the press. “There will be casualties. The Archie Universe will never be the same.”
The culprit will be Destructo, a super villain seeking revenge. According to Lenny Saffian, editor at the fanzine Comics Insider, the revenge factor could mean that Destructo is in fact one of any familiar characters from Archie lore. “He could be Reggie, though that would be an obvious choice, since Reggie’s always been a jerk,” Saffian guessed. “He could be anyone – Mr. Weatherbee, Moose, perhaps even Superintendent Herkimer Hassle. Or even a female, as the character will be masked. It’ll be interested to find out.”
On deaths as well, Saffian could only speculate. “Obviously, when you engage in this kind of sweeping change, you want to shock readers. But you can’t kill off anyone too major. Archie, obviously, will stay. Jughead is too unique.” He paused for a moment. “I could see them killing off either Betty or Veronica, but not both. And of course there will be a slew of minor characters who’ll meet their end. Perhaps [Moose's girlfriend] Midge, Mr. Lodge, and any number of tertiary characters over the years who simply won’t be missed if they’re even remembered.”
Other comics experts were quick to point out that, in the comic book world, death is rarely permanent. “They killed Superman, didn’t they?” said one anonymous scout for another comic book publisher. “How’d that work out? If there’s one lesson we’ve learned, it’s that you can always bring a character back.”
Nevertheless, Stevens assured reporters that readers may find some moments of the upcoming series “uncomfortable,” citing preliminary story sketches that have “Veronica chained and tortured, Jughead quarantined in a hospital, and Pop Tate being murdered in his Chock’lit Shoppe.” Stevens was quick to add that the series will be rated “For Mature Readers” and labeled as such.
Industry market insiders were skeptical of any spike in sales for the beleaguered, 73-year-old franchise. Knox Overstreet, publisher of Overstreet Price Guides, mentioned that “their sales have been a steady decline for decades. They introduced a gay character last year and it barely made news, probably because it was already 2011. There may be a brief spike in sales with this stunt, but in general the Archie line is associated with yesteryear.”
Stevens also said that Battle For Riverdale may also feature guest stars from other comics lines, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spawn, The Flash, and The Punisher, though licensing deals have not yet been finalized.