STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
If you follow the life of Archie Andrews, consider this a spoiler alert. We are reporting this morning on the accident-prone redheaded 17-year-old, who lives in the small town of Riverdale. He's been around since 1941 in comic books, cartoons, a TV show, and even an old radio series.
(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SERIES)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Look, the boy sat on an ant hill!
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: An ant hill?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes!
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There's hundred of ants!
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It looks like there's a few uncles too!
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Quick, help me brush them off.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, he's covered with them. Archie, stop squirming so I can get these ants off you.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Get the ants off me, and I'll stop squirming!
INSKEEP: Lately, Archie has been gracing the pages of "Life With Archie," a series that features Archie Andrews and his Riverdale pals all grown up.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And this is spoiler - today's installment of "Life With Archie" is the second to last one in the series, and Archie dies. He's killed during an assassination attempt on his friend and openly gay politician named Kevin Keller.
INSKEEP: The politician is a veteran who is pushing for better gun control in Riverdale. The publisher of the comic books, Jon Goldwater, acknowledges that this end might seem a bit political.
JON GOLDWATER: Frankly, we do have a point of view here.
MONTAGNE: Which the comic series has maintained for a while. When the character of Kevin Keller was married in the series, the comic became the target of protests from gay marriage opponents.
INSKEEP: Archie's death takes the issue to a new level of intensity, though he is not the first comic hero to die. In recent years, Peter Parker and Steve Rogers better known as Spiderman Captain America, have also lost their lives in the comics. But Goldwater points out that Archie is different; not a superhero - he's one of us.
GOLDWATER: He's flesh and blood. He's like you. He's like me. He can't stop bullets. He doesn't have gadgets. So when we undertook this sort of storyline, we knew that it would resonate really deeply.
MONTAGNE: Today's issue, "Life With Archie Number 36" will be followed by one more, as the Riverdale gang honors the legacy of their redheaded pal.
INSKEEP: Archie, by the way, will live in his original form in other comic books as a teenager - who's been around for more than 70 years. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.