Review - Archie 1941 #1 (@ArchieComics)

"Yeah...good times..."

Archie and crew have been through everything from love triangles to teenage witches and werewolves (even the Predator was thrown in there once). They've never been privy to a world war though; that is, until now in Archie 1941 #1 from Archie Comics. The issue is written by Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid, illustrated by Peter Krause, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick and lettered by Jack Morelli.

Archie has been around for over 75 years and has been through many significant moments in time, but never before have we seen the characters take on real-world events as they unfold. WWII is looming and Archie and many young men from Riverdale are close to enlistment age. If you’re a Riverdale teen, how would you cope with a looming world-changing event?

Augustyn and Waid start the issue off in a familiar setting, with Archie and Jughead late for an important event (in this case their graduation). From there, things quickly get dour with the story duo infusing Archie with an overwhelming sense of dread and pessimism, both about his place and life and 1941 life itself. Most of the issue follows along with Archie and this pervasive sense of gloom, where Archie feels that he's just not good enough and has nothing planned for him after high school. It's certainly not a new situation in a story, but Augustyn and Waid do a fantastic job of making it feel uniquely Riverdale. Archie has always been a relatively happy-go-lucky character with a penchant for popularity, yet Augustyn and Waid upend that and make him out to be a bit more of a burgeoning ne'er-do-well in response to the events around him.

Krause takes a very mature approach to the illustrations as his linework feels aged. It's definitely the right look for the issue as it makes all the characters look a lot older than they're actually supposed to be and serves as an effective reflection of the tense times the book is set in. Krause illustrates Archie with a frown on his face for the duration of the issue that helps to underscore the emotional turmoil he's currently experiencing. The neatly arranged panels provide the normally buttoned-up look that Archie comics were known for. Fitzpatrick's colors are extremely effective at setting the mood via their darker palette and even the bright pop of orange atop Archie's head can't brighten the tone.

There's always been a seemingly ever-present optimism about Archie Andrews, but not so much in Archie 1941 #1. Archie is a lost soul drifting through life and it's likely that World War II will provide some intrigue for him (in more ways than one). Augustyn and Waid have crafted a very solid foray into global conflict for the Riverdale crew and do so in a way that feels like it makes sense. Krause's linework demonstrates an older Archie struggling to come to terms with what lies in wait for him. Archie 1941 #1 is a departure from other Archie comics, but it's a welcome one that provides another layer to examine in a storied character.

Archie 1941 #1 is available September 12.