Life with Archie, the best soap opera in comics, has grabbed readers’ attention with storylines about unhappy marriages and separations, untimely deaths (Mrs. Grundy!) and characters ravaged by disease (Cheryl Blossom!). But there was at least one happy occasion in Riverdale in 2012 with war veteran Kevin Keller’s marriage to his boyfriend, Clay, in issue #16. It’s yet another example how Archie Comics has modernized, and fans have embraced the publisher’s first gay character since he arrived in 2010. Writer Paul Kupperberg handled the story just right, matter-of-factly showing Kevin and Clay as two people a loving relationship. I propose a toast.
About two years ago, my son, now 11, popped the “What does ‘gay’ mean?” question. I answered plainly, and he made a little face. Not in an “I’m Pat Robertson way” but a “Gee, that’s … odd” way. We had a brief talk about it not being odd at all, and then — shiny object! — he went right back to his beloved PSP.
What does this have to do with comics? After introducing Kevin Keller last year, Archie Comics has given Riverdale’s first openly gay character his own series, which hit shelves last week. It’s a typically cute, zany Archie story about pie-eating contests and parade floats. It’s also about Kevin’s coming-out experience, and writer/artist Dan Parent handles it with humor and sensitivity. Continue reading
You really have to be a longtime Archie fan to appreciate how big of a deal this is, because as societal progress goes, interracial romance is so 1980. But Archie kissing Josie and the Pussycats’ Valerie — on the front of the book, no less — is a leap forward for the more leisurely paced Riverdale. There was more smooching and canoodling within, and even Betty and Veronica declared that the two seemed to be in love. Later in the year, Veronica flipped for the new boy in town, cutie pie Kevin Keller. Unfortunately for Ronnie, Kevin’s gay, and openly so. Kevin proved to be such a popular character that he’s returning this year in his own mini-series. Yay, progress!
Man, Archie Comics are all about the progressive plot developments lately. Riverdale not only gave a shout-out to interracial dating this week via Archie #608, but also announced the arrival of its first openly gay character. And no, it isn’t Jughead. Or Mr. Weatherbee.
Veronica Lodge’s milkshake has been bringing all the boys to the yard for more than half a century, but chiseled cutie Kevin Keller, who will make his debut in Veronica #202 in September, does not like her In That Way. (Seriously, Veronica. The boy is gorgeous, polite and has perfect hair. Of course he’s not straight. Didn’t you see Clueless?) After Veronica’s flirting reaches epic levels, Kevin matter-of-factly tells Jughead (!) that he’s gay, so his indifference isn’t necessarily a slam against the town’s richest keyboard player.
Yeah, this development would have been way more awesome in 1991. But late as it may be, the addition of an openly gay, male character is major for an Archie comic book. From what I can tell, Kevin seems to be perfectly comfortable with being out, and there’s no Very Special Issue drama attached to his sexuality.
I’m sure somebody has their knickers in a twist about this, but I can’t see why. Archie Comics’ vision of adolescence is generally so sanitized you could clean your kitchen counters with it. It’s not like anybody’s gonna be cavorting in a hot tub, though I’d be pleasantly surprised if the editors showed Kevin occasionally going on a regular date, just like everybody else at Riverdale High.
While it’s usually extremely satisfying to see Karma kick Veronica in the ass, I feel a little badly for her this time around. Kevin Keller is easily one of the most crush-worthy boys to land in Riverdale, so his … unavailability is really gonna sting. On the other hand, some chap in Miss Grundy’s 3rd period geometry class just might have the best year ever — and we are so not mad at him.