PETALING JAYA - Malaysian fans of Archie Andrews are among others worldwide who are devastated to learn that the freckle-faced teen character is going to be killed off.
The lead character of the hugely popular Archie Comics series will die tragically in a July issue, sacrificing his life to save a friend, and ending the series' 73-year run.
Life of Archie Issue 36 Chapter One: The Death of Archie will hit bookstores on July 16, followed by Issue 37, which will be about how his friends cope with his death, on July 23.
Shalina Manoharan, 28, a diehard fan of Archie Comics, said she was shocked to hear of what was in store for her favourite character.
"My friend told me about it and I did not believe her. I checked online and to my dismay it was true," said the doctor who is based in Kuching.
"I grew up reading the series. I don't think such a sad ending is necessary for a comic book."
Accountant Iris Loh, 31, also said to kill off the character was a wrong move.
"Most of my teenage years were spent reading Archie Comics and I still re-read them today. It is very sad that they are ending it this way," she said.
Maria David, 55, a teacher, has been following the series for more than 40 years and is also sad.
"Why are they ending it this way? They should just let him grow up and end it on a happy note," she said. "This is completely unnecessary."
The revelation has also created a social media storm with fans voicing their dismay.
Some came up with theories on how Archie would die.
Other said they would miss the gang - Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and Reggie - whom they had fallen in love with over the years.
But Jon Goldwater, CEO of Archie Comics, has been quoted as saying that Archie's death would be a "natural conclusion" to the series.
"It is not about the attention-grab of the death but about telling a great, evocative story that reminds people why this character is important to the fabric of pop culture - and showing how heroic a normal guy like Archie can be and how important it is to realise that," he said.
The official website www.archiecomics.com has announced that fans can pre-order their copies of Issue 36 online.