I will start this review off by stating that I did not grow up reading Archie Comics. As a kid I read the comics that related to the TV shows or movies that were popular with me and my brother and Archie just didn’t make it into my childhood. This however has not dampened my curiosity with the iconic “every man” and his 73 year legacy.
“The Death of Archie: A Life Celebrated” is the final chapter of the Life With Archie series that started back in 2010 and explores the grown up lives of Archie and the Riverdale gang. In this series, Archie the “every man” isn’t just the typical teenager but is the typical adult and that focus is perhaps the main appeal of this series. While jogging down Memory Lane in the first pages, Archie reflects on fate, life’s choices, marriage, friendships, and daydreaming about “what ifs.” I’m the kind of reader that knows within the first ten pages if I’m going to keep reading or take a break and come back to it later. It happened on page 8, the bottom right panel: “It feels like only yesterday we were in high school…but back then only the now mattered. I doubt if I ever even considered being where I am today.” Maybe it just happens to be where I am in my own life but I feel like I’ll always be hearing those words in head and then I got why readers have related with Archie for so long. The title of the book gives away what ultimately happens so no danger of spoilers here. I won’t tell you how it happens except to say it’s heroic and it’s true that ordinary people can do brave and extraordinary things for friendship and love.
The book is divided into two main sections. There are flashback scenes to Archie and the gang’s younger days throughout the book but the first half is “Before Death” and the second half takes place a year “After Death.” As someone who has lost a family member recently there are some truly touching and poignant scenes between characters about how people touch each other’s lives. The idea that we are a product of the people around us just as much as we are a part of everyone around us. This was a very enjoyable read about the universal themes of friendship, family, bravery, selflessness, and love.
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