ARCHIE: 1941 — NOT YOUR TYPICAL ARCHIE COMIC BOOK

KC Carlson by Stuart Immonen

KC Carlson by Stuart Immonen


A KC COLUMN by KC Carlson

Archie: 1941 #1 Peter Krause cover

Archie: 1941 #1 Peter Krause cover


There’s a very interesting experiment happening with Archie Comics appearing in comic shops starting today. Archie: 1941 is a new 5-part miniseries written by Mark Waid, who also writes the regular Archie title (Nick Spencer is taking over with issue #700), and his occasional writing partner Brian Augustyn. Augustyn is a former DC Comics editor and writer of things like Batman: Gotham by Gaslight and its sequel, Batman: Master of the Future, and (with Waid) lots of issues of The Flash. Waid and Augustyn also co-wrote projects like The Crusaders, X-O Manowar, and JLA: Year One (one of my faves!). Art for Archie: 1941 is by Peter Krause, best known for his work on Superman-related titles and a three-year run on The Power of Shazam, starring the Marvel Family. Waid and Krause previously worked together on Irredeemable for BOOM! back in 2009.

Archie: 1941 #1 Sanya Anwar cover

Archie: 1941 #1 Sanya Anwar cover


Mark and the guys didn’t pick the series title at random. In the real world, 1941 was the year that most of the classic Archie cast debuted — in Pep Comics #22 — and, if you know your history, a lot of changes were happening in our world (a little something eventually called World War II). Archie: 1941 juxtaposes the teen characters with very grown-up situations, as their history mimics ours. If you’re disappointed that Archie: 1941 isn’t offering up as much of the usual wacky hijinks and Archie slapstick, you may better appreciate the vintage reprints in the various Archie Digests. But an Archie comic that actually makes you think — that’s a very rare bird, and something to cherish.

Archie: 1941 #1 Francesco Francavilla cover

Archie: 1941 #1 Francesco Francavilla cover


There are all kinds of little things here to remind you that you’re not reading typical Archie stories. One of my favorites is that the look of the characters have been lightly re-designed, especially the adults, who have traditionally been the most cartoony. The makeovers for characters like Mr. Weatherbee, Fred and Mary Andrews, Pop Tate, and (in the background) Miss Grundy are greatly welcomed by me, as they better serve the historical context.

The kids look a bit different as well, but that’s mostly due to Krause’s use of vintage clothing design for the teens, which is both unique and emphasizes the various characters’ personalities — as kids of any era would do. Veronica’s bathing ensemble is… well, something

Archie: 1941 #! Dave Johnson cover

Archie: 1941 #! Dave Johnson cover


The in-jokes are also great. Of course, Archie eats PEP cereal for breakfast! Jughead drinks soda out of a fountain-style glass. The teens watch Andy Hardy movies (complete with newsreels, which also subtly move the story along). Pop Tate lets it slip that Goldwater’s Diner may be looking for help. A kid is shown holding a Jackpot comic book (which is an old Archie publication).

But most of this is fun distraction for the long-time Archie fan. Waid and Augustyn provide the reader with traditional Archie humor so that we don’t realize how much Archie is disturbed by increasingly dark world events until literally the last story page. I’ve read a lot of Archie comics over the decades, and I’m pretty sure that there’s never been an Archie story that ended with the words “Second World War!”

It makes me think that the next four issues of the series will also be hitting upon things that we’ve never seen before in an Archie comic book. And not necessarily funny things…

Archie: 1941 #1 Aaron Lopresti cover

Archie: 1941 #1 Aaron Lopresti cover


If it ends as strong as its starts, Archie: 1941 stands a very good chance of being one of the most important and unusual titles that Archie (the Publisher) has ever released. Very good work, gentlemen!

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KC CARLSON: Reading and collecting Archie Comics for over 50 years! I really should have stopped for some sleep every few years…

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Thing that’s irritating me today: stairs and doorbells.

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