Comic Vine News


Archie Comics: Classic Character Gets Cancer

What makes this character death interesting?

Archie comics have always sort of reminded me of what life would be in a perfect world. In this small, self contained universe, nothing "wrong" ever happens and Archie's most dire conflict is whether he wants to ask Veronica or Betty out on a date for Friday night. Recently, however, there seems to be a push to intertwine realism and realistic concepts and situations into Archie's world. By realism, I mean concepts that you and I are likely to deal with in our ordinary lives. The most recent example is the announcement of Geraldine Grundy's battle with cancer, and her subsequent death which will be featured in issue #6 of " Life With Archie."

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 Death in comic books is often used as a way to move a story. This year alone we've seen stories that revolve entirely around character deaths. In 2008, we witnessed the death of Batman and this year, DC comics spent the majority of the year telling stories which focused on his resurrection and return in the
    Thor #608
Thor #608
Return of Bruce Wayne.  
At Marvel, we witnessed the death of the Sentry during SIEGE, and Cable during Second Coming. Each of these deaths were incredible, and occurred during fantastic circumstances. The Sentry's death, for example, was dealt by Thor who summoned all the power of Mjolnir to destroy the Sentry. Thor then proceeded to take Sentry's remains, and throw them into the sun. Sure, the death of the Sentry was interesting and exciting- but it's hard for readers to relate to. I mean, how often do the people you care about die by being thrown into the sun?
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The death of Ms. Grundy comes at a time where there have been definite changes being made in Archie comics. More frequently we've seen new concepts that have changed the characters in the comics we've grown up with, and as a result, have modernized the publication. In an interview with the New York Times, co-chief executive of Archie Comics Jon Goldwater discussed the many recent changes that have been introduced to Archie comics. "“The goal was to tell stories with important, real-world issues that people deal with like death, financial hardship and marriage issues.” The idea of introducing real world concepts, hardships and struggles into Archie's "perfect" world is indeed a good idea; and the death of Ms. Grundy at the hand of cancer, a common killer, is actually a really good thing. So many of us have been touched by cancer and seen our loved ones pass as a result of the disease, that integrating it into Archie's life and forcing the character to deal with the hardship makes him more relatable and interesting to the reader.

Having grown up reading Archie comics, and frequently sneaking the comics into my Mom's grocery cart, it will be interesting to see how the classic character is affected by cancer and the passing of his former teacher. What do you think? Are you looking forward to the changes we are seeing in Archie?