I was a big fan of Archie Comics‘ introduction of the longtime comic’s first out regular gay character, Kevin Keller, who first appeared in Veronica 202 last fall (to big headlines and huge success). I thought it was a pivotal moment in pop history, which I said the strip’s author, Dan Parent, handled just right.
Now Parent, and Keller, are back with a special four-issue series, Kevin Keller, wholly devoted to the character. And I think it’s even better than Kevin’s introduction.
Kevin’s old friends, Wendy and William (the friends he was texting in Veronica 202), come for a visit, and we flashback to how these three friends became “the Three Muska-Dweebs.” Kevin, who had not yet blossomed into the handsome guy he is today, sticks up for Wendy, who is the target of harassment by some local bullies. Not surprisingly, she falls fast in love.
Months later, after Kevin loses his geeky braces and his acne clears up (but he still chooses to sit at the “loser” table at lunch despite entreaties from the “popular” kids), Wendy continues to be smitten — until he has to tell her, “I think David is more my type.”
It’s incredibly sweet — and quite funny in places.
Later, we meet Kevin’s parents, including his disabled veteran father, and we learn that Kevin has plans to go into the military as well — West Point, in fact. “Is there a better way for a journalist to see the world than in the army?” he asks Veronica.
It’s here that we have another flashback, to the time a year earlier when Kevin told his parents that he’s gay (he had his mom tell his dad, which rings very true to life, but they’re both very accepting). The issue even ends with an open plea for tolerance on the subject of gays in the military, the issue’s one “soapbox-y” moment.
Fortunately, the strip also has time for a pie-eating contest that ends up with Kevin and Jughead barfing.
There are so many ways this comic could’ve gone wrong, but author and artist Parent perfectly straddles the line, creating a wholly out gay character within the safe, idealized, age-appropriate world of Riverdale.
The four-issue series, which will be published bi-monthly, will deal with more of Kevin’s relationship with his parents, as well as some encounters with folks who aren’t quite so accepting, especially when he runs for class president. It also includes all of the usual Archie gang.
Check out AfterElton.com’s exclusive peek at some of the first issue, below. Then check back on Wednesday for our interview with Parent who spills some details about what’s ahead for Kevin.
Next Page! Kevin comes out!