- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Say it isn’t so.

We know who shot J.R., a figment of Hollywood’s imagination, and what happened to Spider-Man and Captain America, who live on.

We are told that Archie Andrews, the freckled teen of Riverdale who was “born” in 1941, meets his demise on Wednesday — mortally wounded but saving the life of his gay friend, a married veteran.

What a turn of cultural events, considering that for centuries and much of Archie’s lifetime the word gay meant lighthearted.

Summers of my childhood were often spent in The Field, a dusty, wooded area at Benning Road and Oklahoma Avenue NE, where the Anacostia River flows as a cultural divide in the nation’s capital.

But such serious issues never crossed our minds, as we neighborhood kids were gay, sort of carefree to tend to ourselves — shooting marbles, clearing branches from our treehouse after raging summer storms, listening to transistor radios, fishing in the Anacostia, bicycling and skating, and trading and reading comic books.

The boys, as you might imagine, feasted on Batman, Superman and other superheroes, often acting out storylines that included the bad guys so the good guys could save the day.

Girls, meanwhile, flipped the pages of “Life With Archie,” where a talented blonde (Betty) and her raven-haired rival (Veronica) occupied their teen years trying to wrestle the love of their lives, red-headed Archie, into total submission.

In their world, their tiny Riverdale world of no particular city or state, teen love and shenanigans were the order of everyday.

Moose, Jughead and Reggie rounded out the stable, and the entire gang often tangled with Mr. Weatherbee, Riverdale High’s principal, and Miss Grundy, a teacher.

There often were morals to their stories and storylines that introduced new characters over the decades, with the well-rounded, sports-loving Betty being Archie’s dependable gal pal.

Is there a moral to the upcoming story?

Jon Goldwater, publisher and co-CEO of Archie Comics, wants us to think so.

“We wanted to do something that was impactful that would really resonate with the world and bring home just how important Archie is to everyone,” Mr. Goldwater said.

Guns, stalkers and killers in Riverdale?

That’s so not gay.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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