Rock ‘N’ Roll Takes Over In Archie 1955 #1

by James Ferguson

After seeing Archie deal with war, we jump forward a decade to the birth of Rock ‘N’ Roll. This clumsy kid has a heart for music and he’s going to make it big one way or another. What does that mean for his friends and family along the way?

Archie 1955 #1 begins with an excellent framing device, jumping ahead to 1960. It’s in the office of the executive editor of The Capital Courier that some heavy foreshadowing is dropped for a dramatic decline for one Archie Andrews. Immediately after this ominous page, we’re taken back to the early days with Archie playing with some friends at the Spring Fling dance. How does this wide-eyed young man rise and fall?

Since my only real frame of reference for this time period is Back to the Future, that was what came to mind in this issue, particularly with the rock music blasting out at the school dance. I absolutely love how Tom Grummett illustrates the transition from the bland music of old to the rock of tomorrow. It appears on the page like an explosion. This is where Archie really comes into his own. Up until this point, he’s bored and meandering through the dance. Rock ‘N’ Roll takes him over.

Colorist Glenn Whitmore plays into this with bursts of colors. When music is playing, the tone of the scene changes entirely. It’s no wonder Archie is enthralled by this allure. Just as quickly as we’re swept into a song, we can be pulled out, with dull reality settling in. This paints music like a drug at times and Archie is looking for his next fix.

Music is a major part of Archie 1955. It weaves through most of the pages in a way that practically steals the show. When someone is playing, the lyrics flow all around them, like they’re an extension of their being. Letterer Jack Morelli keeps these moving at a brisk pace to the point where I was tapping my toes during these segments.

You can see how the allure of music whisks Archie away. It’s a seduction that he falls for hook, line, and sinker. He’s so caught up with it that he can’t think of anything else, even his own band. Writers Brian Augustyn & Mark Waid plant the seeds for inevitable betrayals and heartbreak in this first issue. While you understand where this might be going, it is no less riveting.

It’s saying something that you can take the Riverdale gang, plop them into any time period, and they’re still just as compelling as ever. There’s a reason they’ve been going strong for over 75 years. Archie provides a unique perspective on history and not just because he lived through a good chunk of it. This book explores some powerful themes through the lens of teenage drama. It’s great stuff.

Archie 1955 #1 from Archie Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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