In a move that is stirring up debate among comic-book fans, Archie Comics is introducing its first "openly gay" character, Kevin Keller. In Kevin's first appearance, he reportedly shakes up the teenagers' old-fashioned world when Veronica flirts with him, and he has to explain to Jughead why he isn't interested. The company's CEO calls the addition of Kevin an effort to stay "current and inclusive." Is he right, or is this just a way to become relevant again? (Watch a Fox discussion about Archie Comics' gay character)
This is a 'watershed' moment: Archie's conservative hometown of Riverdale "lies at that junction of wholesomeness and Americana," says Leonard Pitts Jr. in The Miami Herald. When it's safe for a gay character there, it's clear that homosexuality is being accepted in the mainstream. This is "a watershed moment."
"21st century lands in Riverdale with the arrival of Kevin"
Archie is outdated, and this is a feeble PR ploy: "This pathetic dinosaur franchise" keeps trying to hang on by announcing new ideas and characters, says Don Surber in the Charleston, W.V., Daily Mail. Last year, it had Archie get married. Even if gay-rights groups call it a victory, this announcement reflects how "trite" the comic has become "even in its attempt at modernization."
"Comic book gets desperate"
If it's a PR ploy, it's a smart one: "Archie just got a little more this-century," say the bloggers in CNN's "This Just In" blog. Archie just became the talk of "watercolor and Web conversation" for the first time in a while. The other students at Riverdale High will welcome Kevin with open arms, and so should we.
"WebPulse: Archie's gay friend, NFL draft, and Blippy problems"
This article was originally published on April 28, then updated on September 1