04/08/2014 12:40 EDT | Updated 06/08/2014 05:59 EDT

Archie Andrews dies in conclusion of Life with Archie series

Riverdale's teen everyman Archie Andrews, the comic world's good-hearted small-town hero, will sacrifice his own life to save a friend at the conclusion of the series Life with Archie.

The shocking news about the iconic pop culture character was announced Tuesday by Archie Comics publisher Jon Goldwater.

Archie will die in July's Life with Archie #36, a forthcoming issue of the "flash-forward" series exploring the character's life after high school and college.

"We've been building up to this moment since we launched Life with Archie five years ago and knew that any book that was telling the story of Archie's life as an adult had to also show his final moment, Goldwater said in a statement.

"This story is going to inspire a wide range of reactions because we all feel so close to Archie. Fans will laugh, cry, jump off the edge of their seats and hopefully understand why this comic will go down as one of the most important moments in Archie’s entire history. It's the biggest story we've ever done, and we're supremely proud of it."

The subsequent issue (#37) will jump forward a year and look at how the rest of the Riverdale crew — including his love interests Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, best friend Jughead Jones and friend/nemesis Reggie Mantle — dealt with his death.

In recent years, Archie Comics has branched out into more contemporary story lines, including those involving its first gay characters, and nontraditional spinoff series.

For instance, the publisher teamed up with TV's high school music show Glee for a crossover project, called on controversial Girls creator Lena Dunham to pen a four-issue story and waded into the horror comic genre with the series Afterlife with Archie, which features the Riverdale gang encountering things like zombies, other undead creatures and magical incantations.