NEW YORK - Marvin Albert and his granddaughter Coco grabbed the fateful issue of Archie Wednesday. Marvin has been a fan since the 1940s.
"'Cause you are Archie. And you've got a friend like Jughead," says Marvin.
Coco, 14, has more than 600 Archie comics.
"I like that they're doing this. I think 'Life with Archie' is a different path they've decided to take."
It all ends for the redheaded hero from Riverdale in Issue 16 of "Life with Archie," when an adult Archie takes a bullet aimed by a stalker at a gay friend.
People who grew up with Archie might not have seen this coming.
"I grew up with Archie ... and I never thought I'd see it. So it's probably the most important moment in the history of this company," says Jon Goldwater, publisher of Archie Comics.
Goldwater's father started the company. Born in 1941, Archie was an immediate success. By the 1960s, he had his own TV series and his own rock band with a No. 1 record.
"From inception we've sold over 2 billion comics. It's an unbelievable number," says Goldwater.
But a nearly 75-year-old comic book hero needs to stay relevant, says media analyst Rob Salkowitz.
"These characters are the same familiar Archie characters, but instead of being in a jokey, humorous situation, they're more serious. And that gives these characters more emotional depth when bad things start to happen," says Salkowitz.
Goldwater explains, "Gun violence is too prevalent in this country. And we should do everything we can to prevent it. So, am I making a political statement? Absolutely not. But should Riverdale be a safe and secure metaphor for every city in the United States? It absolutely should."
Goldwater insists it's not a sales gimmick. The older Archie will not magically be reborn. "Archie's not a superhero. Bullets don't bounce off his chest," he says, "he's a human being."
But Archie will have an afterlife as his old teenage self in a new zombie comic that's become a series best-seller.