Review: Archie 1941 #3 (of 5)

Archie 1941 #3 continues this period piece glimpse into Americana in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.  These iconic characters and the town they inhabit, Riverdale, are used as a sounding board for a compelling drama about the United States’ preparations for war,  the young men who volunteered to fight that war, and those who were left behind.

As issue 3 begins, the Riverdale gang find themselves in vastly different situations.  Archie Andrews, having forged his fathers signature so that he can enlist in the army, is at basic training in Spec Alabama along with Reggie Mantle.  Jughead and Moose, both too young to enlist and not having the initiative or deviousness to forge a parents signature, both find themselves in Riverdale.  Jughead, eager to enlist and follow in Archie’s footsteps, clashes with his parents as he presses them to give their permission so that he might enlist.  Betty is putting on a brave face.  She worries for Archie and fears for his safety while she remains behind in Riverdale.  Meanwhile, Veronica is concerned for her friend but largely unaffected by the impending war at this point.  However, Veronica’s father is out of favor with Riverdale as he seeks to profit from the war and gouges the citizens of Riverdale by upping the gas prices at his service station.  As the issue progresses, we see the people of Riverdale tackle a variety of issues to include family separation and racism.  Well into 1942, Archie and Reggie have finished their training and await orders for their first deployment.  Eager to fight the Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor, they are disappointed to learn that the army will be deployed to North Africa to face the German Afrika Korps under Rommel. With that the issue ends.  However, those who are familiar with WWII history must surely be worried for Archie and Reggie.  The the US Army’s first action in North Africa was a colossal disaster with much loss of life.  It was not until George S. Patton took command in North Africa that the Afrika Korps was crushed between the US and British Armies.

I was unsure what to expect when I opened this book.  I freely admit that I’ve never been much of a reader of Archie comics.  Archie 1941 seemed an odd choice to me.  Imagine my surprise when I began reading and realized that Riverdale and it’s residents were the perfect backdrop for this examination of America ramping up to full war footing during WWII.  If the writers have not interviewed those who lived during those heady days, they have surely done yeoman work recreating that time period.  My grandparents lived during that time and I have met veterans of that war who did indeed find ways to bypass enlistment boards so that they could serve their country against the AXIS Powers.  The setting presented in this book rings true when I compare it to stories I have been told who lived in those times.  The art is subdued but well drawn, taking a backseat to the well written story and moments of melodrama.  In short, this is an excellent snapshot of an important part of American history using Archie and Riverdale as a medium to tell the story.  It is impressive in its presentation of the human emotions during this time period.  I recommend this book to those who want something different and aren’t afraid to delve into this finely written drama.

Writing – 4.25 of 5 Stars
Art  – 3.5 of 5 Stars

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Writing – Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn
Art – Peter Krause
Color – Kelly Fitzpatrick
Letters – Jack Morelli