Written by Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn
Illustrated by Peter Krause,
Kelly Fitzpatrick, Jack Morelli
Published by Archie Comics
Pep Comics # 22 was dated December, 1941. Archie Andrews, America’s favorite eternal teenager, made his very first appearance in that issue. In the more than 75 years since, Archie has done it all.
We’ve seen his birth, his childhood, his middle and high school years, his band, his marriages, his child, and even his death!
Most recently Archie and friends have connected with a whole new generation via the oh-so-dark TV serial, Riverdale.
What was left for Archie?
Well Pep Comics # 22 wasn’t the ONLY thing one thinks of when one thinks of December, 1941. There was also World War II. It was in all the papers.
Veteran writers Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid—two creators with a great respect for comics characterization and tradition—take us back to that year in Archie 1941 and introduce us to an almost familiar Archie who had been born around 1923. We meet him just as he and all his friends graduate high school and begin to wonder what’s next.
The illustrative art by Peter Krause is a good choice for this story. In fact, any other style could have killed it right at the start.
This isn’t Bob Montana’s silly Archie. This is more Waid’s recent semi-realistic Archie from the regular ongoing series, transplanted in time. Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Moose. As they always have been, they’re all in character, but here there’s a prevailing, almost morose sadness that permeates Archie’s post-graduation summer. As if he can feel something coming.
That something, of course, is the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America’s entrance into the already ongoing war.
The pacing of these first two issues seems a bit slow but the books do an excellent job in capturing the conflicting emotions of both parents and sons as the unavoidable war moves ever closer until it’s directly in front of them.
It’s not a lighthearted Archie story at all, nor is it as melodramatic as the current TV version. What it is, in fact, is an unusual choice for a comic book. It’s a serious look at a serious time that makes us relate by throwing familiar old friends right into the thick of it.
And at the end of the second issue, that seems to be exactly where Archie is headed.
As is, this is a work in progress and as such a final judgement can’t be made. But I trust Waid and Augustyn enough to want to see where it goes after this. Based on experience, I think YOU should, too.