A Dead Archie, a Female Thor, a Black Captain America; Heroes for a new generation

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Earlier in the year we learned that Archie was going to be murdered (See “Archie Dies”).   What we did not know at that time was why and by whom.  Now, in a Washington Post article by Alyssa Rosenberg, we learn why?  Archie Andrews, according to Rosenberg, Archie is “… fatally shot by an assassin targeting his friend, an openly gay senator campaigning for gun control.”

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With one fell swoop, Archie Comics managed to hit two hot button issues.  It is of course hard to know all the motivations behind the decision.   What I do believe we can surmise is that the folks at Archie Comics are betting that this story line is going to appeal to a younger generation that is comfortable with openly gay people and who go to school in a time when schools are on the front line of increasing gun violence.  In short, it reflects the world in which today's teens, tweens and young adults live.

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Like much of today’s “Young Adult” fiction, Archie is focusing on presenting characters and events that are marginalized if existing at all in most comics (Archie introduced a handicapped character and Archie married and had a child with Valerie, the Black Pussy Cat in Josie and the Pussy Cats).  

Interestingly, we learned last week that Marvel is also taking a position that will challenge and possibly speak to the same generation.  You don’t get much more male than Thor, the god of Thunder. Yet, this week we learned that he is going to be replaced, at least for a while, by a female…and, yes, they made sure that she’s hot.

Not to be outdone, America is going to see a different reflection when it looks in the face of a Black Captain America.  Marvel seems to be saying that America is not the same America that existed 50 years ago and certainly since Barack Obama became our first Black President.

In a world in which competing cultural and political outposts attempt to speak to divergent generations, it will be interesting to see if Marvel and Archie Comics are engaging in a marketing campaign designed to generate press or if they are in truth sensing that a younger generation demands different heroes and storylines.

Stay tuned for this one.  It is going to play out in our homes and in our comic books.

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