Sophomore Issue of Archie 1941 Shows Character Growth, Insights

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Archie 1941 #2

It's been half a year since Archie and the gang graduated from Riverdale High, which puts the date of this issue in mid-December of 1941. The Japenese forces have already bombed Pearl Harbor, and we see an empty theater playing the newsreel of Roosevelt's famous declaration of war, which means we're probably several days past December 7, allowing for time for the filmreels to be cut and delivered to theaters.

Which also means we've nearly run out of days for the titular 1941.

Everyone in Riverdale is feeling the anxiety of being in a nation at war. Moose is eager to enlist despite the protestations of his doting mother. But at the Andrews house, Archie and his father Fred are still at odds, with Archie arguing with his father about what to do with his life, partcularly when Fred mentions how many men are signing up for the war. Archie is a bit of a sarcastic brat, throwing back in his father's face the notion that his father might want him to become a corpse in order to become a man.

If that's how things had remained, I'd have been very disappointed with ARCHIE 1941. But Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid salvage this situation when a drunken Fred Andrews and Hal Cooper decide to go enlist themselves, being gently and rightly turned away by the recruiting officer -- but not without Archie having observed the act. This puts Archie on a determined path, one that begins with reconcling with Betty Cooper, and then preparing to enlist himself.

A bit of a throwaway scene, but one that was well executed in terms of character development, involves Reggie Mantle and Veronica Lodge. Archie assumes they're a couple, which Veronica is quick to deny -- something that comes as a bit of a jolt to Reggie. As for Reggie, he's ready to forgive and forget the punch Archie gave him at the beach last issue, exhibiting some self-actualization that the punch was probably deserved for a whole lifetime of rotten stunts. He also shows some development of self-worth, deciding that he's not going to continue accompanying Veronica, given that he now knows he's been window dressing. And when Veronica is left alone, we see that she's a very lonely, very scared girl seeking comfort in a world at war.

Peter Krause does a top-notch job of rendering the characters and the town of Riverdale in a way that evokes the era in all aspects, bringing Waid & Augustyn's story to a vivid yet somber life. While the first issue of this series had its issues, it looks to me like this second issue has course-corrected -- at least enough for this reviewer to give the rest of this 5-issue series a look-see.

4.5 / 5.0