By Ken Tucker
Updated December 23, 2010 at 08:49 PM EST

The new Archie Comics, released on Wednesday, finds the red-headed hero and his girlfriend Veronica talking environmental issues with President Obama. Meanwhile, Archie’s long-time rival, the rich-kid Reggie Mantle III, gets his picture taken with Sarah Palin. Both political alliances are used for Archie and Reggie to further their campaigns for student-body president.

In the final panel of Archie issue #616, Obama and Palin are each depicted as holding up different front pages of the Riverdale school newspaper, each of which implies that Obama and Palin have endorsed Archie and Reggie, respectively. Obama and Palin yell angrily, in unison, “Who’s responsible for this!?”

The cover depicts Obama and Palin at Pop’s Malt Shop, sharing a chocolate ice cream float with two straws. Archie looks on, exclaiming, “Wow! I guess anything’s possible!”

To which I might add: Wow! Dirty politics on the part of Archie and Reggie — what gives in Riverdale these days?

Indeed. In recent months, there’s been some talk about how the Archie Comics company is moving more toward contemporary themes and even serious issues. (There’s an upcoming storyline in which teacher Miss Grundy will die of cancer.)

What do you think of Archie playing politics?