As the super hero boom of the 1960s began to reach its fever pitch, even those publishers who eschewed costumed crime-fighters as a rule began to dip their toe into the masked avenger pond. So it was that even Archie Comics attempted to produce a sub-line of stories featuring the red-headed kid next door as a bona fide super hero, Pureheart the Powerful.
This first Pureheart the Powerful story was produced by Frank Doyle and Bob White, and was pretty clearly intended as a one-off. But somebody at Archie must have felt pretty good about it, because in just two issues (too soon for sales or reader response to have influenced the decision) Pureheart would return.
And not only that, but appearances by the character, his nemesis Evilheard (Reggie), his comrades Captain Hero (Jughead) and Super-Teen (Betty) would begin to show up in other Archie titles. Even LITTLE ARCHIE got into the act with a Little Pureheart adventure.
In this first adventure, Pureheart is simply a standard Superman-esque hero. Later stories would make him more specific: he would fly thanks to rockets installed on his belt, and his powers would stem from his PH factor–his purity of motive. Archie would become Pureheart whenever danger would threaten his one true love, Veronica.
By 1967, there was even a short-lived PUREHEART title, which was renamed CAPTAIN PUREHEART for some reason after a couple of issues (possibly to make it sound more immediately like a super hero book.) Captain Hero got a title of his own as well.
But all things must come to an end, and my sense is that the sales on the Archie super hero books weren’t all that great–they sold pretty much as well as any other issues of ARCHIE did. So as the fad began to cool in 1967, Pureheart and his fellow crime-busters were phased out. There were better times ahead for Archie anyway: his animated series in 1969 would propel his book to the top of the sales charts (to say nothing of the success of the bubblegum song “Sugar, Sugar”)
Every once in a while Archie Comics goes back to the Pureheart well for another brief dose of nostalgia, so the character is likely to appear again at some point in the days ahead.