Recently I was going through my large pile of back issues, when Kevin Keller #8 popped out at me. I admit that I don’t read Archie like I used to as a child, but I still keep up with what my favorite comic book teenagers are up too.
Kevin Keller was introduced into the Archie universe by creator Dan Parent. Kevin was introduced in Veronica #202 as the first gay character in Archie comics. I’ve talked about Kevin in the past, and I still firmly believe he is a wonderful addition to Archie. He is a positive role model for young children regardless of sexuality.
In Kevin Keller #8 we come in at the end of a two part story. Devon, Kevin’s boyfriend, are pretty rocky. Devon wasn’t comfortable with coming out, but eventually him and Kevin became a couple. Things were then made more complicated when a former admirer of Kevin, Paul, returns to the scene! Kevin assures Devon that Paul is only a friend, but can Devon get passed his jealousy?
Kevin Keller #8 folds out like any normal Archie story. Veronica has an idea for the school play, which will be about teenagers through history. Kevin plays the lead male with Betty as the female lead. When the play gets to the 21st century it is revealed that Paul will play opposite Kevin as his boyfriend. This raises red flags to Devon who then immediately signs up to help with props in the play. His jealousy eventually gets the better of him, and Devon sabotages the play (with positive results from the audience).
This comic deals with issues and feelings many young adults have. Jealousy, insecurities, and learning to cope with these feelings. Devon feeling jealousy over Paul being so close to Kevin during the play was a perfectly normal human response. That he couldn’t distinguish real life from the play is something that happens to teenagers (and adults!) every day. Devon even asks Kevin to quit the play, but Kevin declines. Devon in a way is acting like a bully, trying to get Kevin to do what he wants or else they can’t be together. Kevin made a commitment to his friend Veronica, and he won’t be swayed by Devon’s clearly jealous ultimatum. These panels are very important as it shows it’s young readers that it is OK to stand up for yourself even in a relationship. Your friends (and lovers!) will do things you don’t agree with, but it’s important to trust them and stand by them.
Another page of note is page 9. Veronica informs Kevin that during a specific scene, he has to pull Betty along by the hair. Betty is furious at the idea and let’s Veronica know. Veronica then insists that Kevin drag her by the arm, but he’s clearly uncomfortable with that as well. What this is showing young readers is that it is not OK to forcefully take someone with you anywhere, even in a school play. To drag someone by the hair or arm is brutish, rude, and it shows a distinct lack of respect for that person. Personal boundaries are to be respected, and that no means no.
At the end of the comic Devon is remorseful for how he behaved towards Kevin and the play. He suggests that he and Kevin break up, but Kevin reassures Devon that he won’t give up on him. Kevin does acknowledge that what Devon did was wrong, but can also see that Devon reacted in such a manner because of his feelings. Devon apologizes to both Kevin and Veronica. Young readers will hopefully take away the message that we as human beings will make mistakes. We should be able to recognize flaws and issues, but we should also be able to forgive our friends and loved ones. We can learn from our mistakes and grow! Hopefully Devon will be around for a long while as his character is only just starting to develop.