Has The Rising Star Reached Its Apex In Archie 1955 #4?

by James Ferguson

To the outside world, Archie Andrews has it all. He’s in hit movies and TV shows and he’s cranking out music the public is eating up, not to mention that he’s beloved by millions of fans around the world. So why does he feel an emptiness inside? He’s losing sight of why he wanted to make music in the first place. His manager, Hiram Lodge isn’t helping matters but pushing the young star into all sorts of money-making endeavors that lack any soul whatsoever. It’s time for something drastic. Will he risk it all to find happiness?

Archie 1955 has been building to this moment. It has taken some time to get there since it was pretty obvious from the start that Hiram was only after the almighty dollar, so it’s refreshing to see Archie finally catch up and open his eyes. Everyone else, both in his world and us as readers, figured this out a long time ago.
Although we have an idea of where this might be going, there’s still a shroud of mystery around it, and an ominous one at that. Writers Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid continue to book end each chapter with a shadowy interview in the near future, foreshadowing Archie’s fall from grace. As we approach the end of this series, I have to wonder how fast this will happen and how drastic it will be. It is rather worrisome, especially with how many rock and roll tragedies the creators have to pull from.

Archie does still take some time to revel in his fame and fortune, although we see just how lonely and isolated he is in this issue. There’s a great shot as he’s waiting for a food delivery at his home where he laments that he’s so famous he can’t go out into the world. He’s loved by all, but he can’t go outside without being mobbed, so what’s the point? Colorist Glenn Whitmore does some great work with shadows here, showing a vast and otherwise vibrant home that feels drab and dull with no life or energy in it. It’s a perfect summation for how Archie feels at that moment.
One of the lighter moments in Archie 1955 #4 comes when an up-and-coming musician tries to talk down to Archie. The red-headed wonder puts him in his place politely and definitely. Letterer Jack Morelli doesn’t show us the upstart’s words. Instead, it’s a scribble in a balloon with icicles dripping down it, so you can imagine what he said.

Artist Derek Charm’s designs are…well…charming. There’s a warmth to each character, although some, like Hiram, are more sinister than others. This is part of what has made these characters so relevant for decades. You can pick up any issue of an Archie comic and feel welcome, regardless of what the gang is going through. In this case, Archie’s innocence shines through, but it’s getting beaten down by contractual obligations and mandatory meet-and-greets, giving way to sadness.

You can see Archie putting the pieces together throughout this issue. Charm shows it on the guy’s face, going from frustration to depression to pure determination. When everything finally clicks, there’s a rousing moment where Archie is about to take the bull by the horns, even if it might spell trouble for his career. I’m very curious as to what this will mean for the rest of the series as it sounds like Archie’s downfall will begin, but all may not be lost. He could regain what he loves most in life in exchange for the fame and fortune.
Archie 1955 #4 from Archie Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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