The Archie comics reboot has to be one of the biggest surprises in the comics industry of the last few years. Ever since the publisher dropped the comics code authority and began diversifying its approach to Archie and his friends, Archie has become one of the best comics around—and now it’s going a step further by revealing Jughead’s asexuality.
The revelation won’t play a major part in this week’s Jughead #4, but just come up in a matter-of-fact conversation between Jughead and a fellow student, as revealed by Comic Book Resources:
Followers of Chip Zdarksy and Erica Henderson’s spectacular spinoff series Jughead—which similarly went under a big tonal shift and shakeup á la the main Archie series last year to modernize the denizens of Riverdale—shouldn’t really be surprised to see the comic openly acknowledge the diversity of Riverdale High.
Not only has Archie had characters on the LGBTQA spectrum before, most noticeably Kevin Keller, the first gay character introduced to the franchise, but Zdarksy has frequently described his approach to characterising Jughead’s romantic life as an asexual rather than as someone who was simply didn’t bother with, or even actively disliked women. Here he is at New York Comic-Con last year on the subject of romance in Jughead:
My view of Jughead is, over the 75 years [of his existence] there have been sporadic moments where he has dabbled in the ladies, but historically he has been portrayed as asexual. They just didn’t have a label for it, so they just called him a woman-hater.
But he’s not a misogynist — he just watches his cohorts lose their minds with hormones. People have asked me if there is going to be a romance if I’m writing Jughead, because I’m very romantic, and the answer is no, because there is enough of that in Archie. I think something like asexuality is underrepresented, and since we have a character who was asexual before people had the word for it, I’m continuing to write him that way.
Still, it’s honestly kind of amazing that one of the scant few asexual characters you see in big comics is making his debut in the pages of Archie books, of all places—even with the big push to see increased diversity in comics, sexual diversity has rarely yet to really expand much in the way beyond the Lesbian or Gay part of LGBTQA (that’s not to say there hasn’t been—Sera in Marvel’s Angela: Queen of Hel series, for example, is transgender). The creative talent behind the Archie comics continues to surprise and delight with its fresh take on a comics icon.