That's What's Up: Why Archie is the most versatile character in comics
Each week, comic book writer Chris Sims answers the burning questions you have about the world of comics and pop culture: what's up with that? If you'd like to ask Chris a question, please send it to @theisb on Twitter with the hashtag #WhatsUpChris, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "That's What's Up."
Q: What makes Archie and the gang so versatile? Horror, Teen Murder Drama, countless crossovers, they seem to suit any genre. —@MattLune
Being a comic book fan these days is weird. People are suddenly really happy if you compare them to Aquaman, there's a major motion picture raking in millions of dollars that features a cameo appearance by the Bi-Beast, there's been a crossover about the DC Multiverse on television two years in a row. It is wild—and for a lot of people, the wildest thing of all might just be that there's a hit television show where the Archie characters have to deal with meth dealers, serial killers, accidental incest, and street gangs, without ever getting to the point where they're not recognizably the same characters from the comics you can buy at the grocery store.
Really, though, that makes a lot of sense. Don't get me wrong, a good bit of the fun of that show is that it's well aware of the power of shock value, and how hilarious it is to watch hapless klutz Archie Andrews forming a vigilante gang of shirtless teens, or see Jughead installed as a crime lord. But the fact that it works? That's not shocking at all. It's just the natural end result of a company spending decades making sure their characters could work in any kind of story.