Pureheart the Powerful socks it to a bad guy.


Medium: Comic Books
Published by: MLJ/Archie Comics
First Appeared: 1965
Creators: Frank Doyle (writer) and Bob White (artist)

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By 1965, the superhero revival in American comic books was in full swing, and even the funny guys were starting to …

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… get into the act. That was the year Goofy became Super Goof, Herbie became The Fat Fury, and Archie became Pureheart the Powerful.

Life with Archie, launched in 1958 as one of the carrot-topped teen's ancillary titles, tended to run longer, more adventure-oriented stories than the rest of the Archie Comics line. In the 42nd issue (October, 1965), at the suggestion of publisher John Goldwater, writer Frank Doyle (long-time Archie Comics contributor) and artist Bob White (Cosmo the Merry Martian) arranged for Archie to acquire super powers, put on a skin-tight costume, take on the name "Pureheart the Powerful", and do mighty battle with the forces of crime and/or evil. They posited a "PH (for Pure Heart) Factor", which Archie could invoke to give himself generic super powers (strength, flight, invulnerability), and pitted him against the super villain Ice Cube (billed on the cover as a "diabolical super-fink"). Afterward, the PH Factor blanked out the memory of everyone in the vicinity, including Archie.

Pureheart was back two issues later, and back again in #s 46, 48 and 50. It was in the 46th issue that he got his origin story. #48 introduced the villain Evilheart, who was secretly Archie's rival, Reggie. In #50, he was joined in his crusade for good by two stalwart allies — Captain Hero (whose secret identity was Archie's pal Jughead) and Superteen (in reality Archie's sometimes-girlfriend, Betty, who had become a superhero the same month Archie did, in Betty & Veronica #118). The 50th issue also had Evilheart team up with Mad Doctor Doom (no relation), the villain who had been menacing Little Archie for the past few years.

After that, Pureheart moved out into his own comic. The first issue of Archie as Pureheart the Powerful was dated September, 1966. (For some reason, it was altered to Captain Pureheart with #4.) In October, Captain Hero got the same treatment, and Superteen became a regular in Betty & Me. Evilheart had taken over Reggie's title a couple of months earlier. Even Little Archie got into the act — Little Pureheart was first seen in Little Archie #40 (Fall, 1966). To celebrate this efflorescence of superheroics in Riverdale, the 142nd issue (October, 1966) of Archie Giant Series magazine reprinted all these guys' origin stories.

But the glory was short-lived. Pureheart the Powerful/Captain Pureheart lasted six issues, exactly as long as Superteen's tenure in Betty & Me. Little Pureheart made only three appearances, the last in Little Archie #44. Evilheart was out of Reggie's comic after five. Jughead as Captain Hero bucked the trend by hanging on for seven issues, but it too was gone as of November, 1967, and the entire "Pureheart" scenario became a fond memory for fans of superhero comics.

They were back decades later, tho, in Archie's Super Teens #1 (no month, simply dated 1994). This time, Veronica joined them as Miss Vanity, who devoted her awsome super power (money) to the aid of fashion victims. But that glory, too, was short-lived — four issues, to be exact. Pureheart and his entourage haven't been seen since.


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Text ©2004-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Archie Comics.