Archie’s Star Begins To Rise, But A Dark Cloud Hangs Over Him In Archie 1955 #2

by James Ferguson

Archie is getting a taste of success as people are falling over themselves to hear his music. That comes at a cost though as he’s alienating his closest friends that were supposed to be part of this band. Plus, he’s stealing the songs from an African-American singer on the other side of town. His music career is only just beginning and he’s already making enemies.

Archie 1955 #2 delves into a number of important issues. First you have the drama between friends where Archie is turning his back on Jughead and Reggie, who helped him get to this point. It’s not so much that he’s doing this on purpose, but that he’s getting caught up in the attention. He doesn’t realize what he’s doing or how he’s hurting his friends.
The other side is the cultural appropriation of Archie stealing the music from Big Earl Dixon. Again, he claims he doesn’t do this intentionally as he took great inspiration from the artist, but he doesn’t do much to right this wrong when people start fawning over this music. They think Archie made it and he doesn’t do anything to correct them. This leads to an interesting confrontation between the two musicians where Archie realizes what he’s done and tries to make up for it, although he does so in private and not in public, leaving the door open for a betrayal down the line.

This is a very real thing that happened in history with the likes of Elvis Presley and The Beatles so it’s intriguing to see how it plays out in Archie 1955. Since we know how most of those turn out in the real world, we can hazard a guess as to how it’s going to go here.
The disparity between the races is shown in how each side of town is depicted. Colorist Glenn Whitmore uses bright, vibrant colors for Archie’s area, especially when Mr. Lodge shows up in his shiny car. Archie’s African-American friend, Charles is driving a beat up old car that’s a dingy brown. The difference between the two is staggering.

Despite this, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement about Archie’s rise to success. Artists Tom Grummett & Rick Burchett capture this wide-eyed enthusiasm and surprise that take over the character as people embrace his music. This is what he’s always wanted and now, through a series of unexpected events, he’s finally getting it. Again, it comes at a price and he doesn’t quite know what that is yet.
We have an inkling of what this will cost Archie as this series is told as a flashback. We know we’re going to see the rise and fall of the character. Writers Brian Augustyn & Mark Waid have created a dark cloud hanging over this bright-eyed young man. Right now he’s happy and excited so I’m very curious as to how fame and fortune will twist and contort him to the point where he’s pushed his friends and family away.

That ominous tone is shown in the occasional caption boxes narrating events from the future. Letterer Jack Morelli uses a quiet purple shade for these boxes that stand out from the rest of the book. Every time one appears, it adds additional context and foreboding to what’s coming.
The art style of Archie 1955 matches up perfectly to the era from the clothing to the cars to the buildings. It is very much a period piece and you’re instantly transported back in time when you open this comic. It could have just worked off of the nostalgia factor and had a fun story, but it does so much more than that. It’s an interesting and powerful look at history through the eyes of characters we’ve known and loved for decades.
Archie 1955 #2 from Archie Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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