Convergence: Why Archie Andrews Is So Important to the Fictional World
Archie Andrews is going to become the most important character in genre fiction.
OK, that might be overstating matters slightly, but as fans of Archie Comics might already have realized, the redheaded teen occupies a very unusual place in modern pop culture, bringing together concepts and franchises that otherwise have no business coexisting. This year alone, Archie Comics will release Archie vs. Predator, pitting Archie's Pals 'n' Gals against 20th Century Fox's unstoppable alien hunter; and Archie vs. Sharknado, bringing Syfy's kitschy disaster franchise to the shores of Riverdale.
This Week In Heat Vision breakdown
That's not all; in the past, Archie has co-starred in comics with Marvel's Punisher ("The team-up you thought would never happen — Archie and The Punisher wish you were right!" exclaimed the cover), the cast of Fox's Glee, President Barack Obama (who shared a milkshake with Sarah Palin, because why not?) and the band Kiss. Other franchises and celebrities to pop up in Archie comics include the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, DC's Tiny Titans, Star Trek's George Takei and Sonic the Hedgehog, while the new series Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina show the characters move in more adult, horrific directions. Archie, you see, is taking over everything.
The number of crossovers and partnerships that Archie has enjoyed turns Andrews into the Kevin Bacon of … well, everything. Want to argue that Britney Spears and British comic-strip character Judge Dredd somehow coexist in the same fictional reality? Archie makes it easy: Britney played herself on Glee, the Glee characters met Archie, and Archie has met the Predator, who was one of the two eponymous characters in 1997's Predator vs. Judge Dredd. Could Vice President Joe Biden ever hang out on the Starship Enterprise? Of course! Biden works with President Obama, who met Archie, who met the Punisher, who coexists with the X-Men in the Marvel Universe, and 1996's Star Trek/X-Men brought those mutants into the fictional 23rd century of Starfleet. Easy!
As you can tell, Archie Comics is far from the first publisher to pair unexpected characters together for projects; as early as the 1950s and '60s, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and, of all people, Don Rickles would make appearances in DC titles, with releases including Godzilla vs. [Charles] Barkley, Tarzan vs. Predator at the Earth's Core and two annual co-publishing ventures between Marvel and DC that mixed their properties together to create new, co-owned characters such as Super-Soldiers and the Dark Claw.
These days, most comic book publishers are in the business of concentrating on their own properties instead of playing with others'. Archie is one of the last holdouts that continues to interact with other publishers and intellectual-property owners, with its partnerships becoming increasingly diverse. (Really, who saw a Sharknado tie-in coming?) The longer this continues, the more different audiences will discover Archie's own characters, the more appealingly diverse the company will appear — and the more important Archie Andrews will become to the multiverse of entertainment entities. One day, it'll be Archie's world, and we'll just live in it.
by Graeme McMillan
by Patrick Shanley