Tragedy is coming to Riverdale — for real this time. While Archie Comics is no stranger to killing off prominent characters in horror titles like Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, writer Mark Waid and artist Pete Woods have crafted a multi-issue arc, set in the ongoing continuity of the flagship Archie title, that will change the wholesome "town with pep" forever.
In the three-part "Over the Edge," which begins with Archie #20, Archie and Reggie take their feud to the next level with a good ol' American drag race. But when the dust settles on Dead Man's Curve, someone ends staring death in the face. Waid and Woods have already confirmed that the character in question isn't Archie — that's been done before — but everyone else is still in danger, including Betty, Veronica, and Jughead.
"I looked for the one whose death would have the most impact on the core cast and on the town," Waid explained. "That doesn't necessarily make the victim one of our squeakier-clean kids — there's a lot of mileage to be gotten out of anyone's loss, even a heel's."
Reggie seems like the obvious candidate here, seeing as that would evoke major consequences for Archie, personally. Not to mention, he's the biggest heel in Riverdale. Look no further than these exclusive images from Archie #20 for further proof.
But it's also possible that whoever ends up careening off Dead Man's Curve was just caught in the crossfires of Archie and Reggie's race.
Waid's Archie run has been lauded for giving Archie Andrews and his friends a much-needed modern makeover. However, that doesn't just apply to the way they look. (Although, yes, Archie is hot now.) There's an emotional depth and complexity to Waid's work. These characters feel like people with real, relatable emotions — from heartbreak to anxiety to love.
The decision to introduce such a monumental tragedy at this point in the series was the natural progression of the story. "As fun as the book has been thus far, it was time to up the stakes for a while," Waid said. "We've always balanced comedy and drama in this book. Now we're introducing tragedy."
The loss will affect the Archie universe "enormously," but it will also impact everyone in different ways. It gave the prolific comics writer an opportunity to "go deep" on characters that have served largely as comic foils. "This gives us an opportunity to drill down on each and every character in Riverdale," Waid said. "The catalyst here changes them all."
Though the adrenaline (and the stakes) are at an all-time high in "Over the Edge," extended car chases unfortunately don't work as well in the static medium of comics as they do onscreen, so don't expect Archie and Reggie to get too Fast & Furious on the streets of Riverdale.
"There is a race, but what's more important is the consequence," Waid concluded.
It all kicks off with Archie #20, which hits your local comic-book shop on May 17.