Review: It All Comes Crashing Down In ‘Archie 1955 #5’

by James Ferguson

Archie Andrews has all the fame and fortune he could ever want so why is he so glum? His dream of becoming a rock star has become reality, but it’s not what he thought it was. His life is full of cheesy jingles and lame endorsements when all he wants to do is make some music that matters to him. With Hiram Lodge working him like a dog, he’s looking for a way out, hopefully with Veronica in tow, but can the teen sensation escape?

Archie 1955 has had an ominous bookend for each chapter as a reporter is interviewing a person in the shadows about whatever happened to Archie Andrews. It has filled the book with questions as it contrasts so much with the boy’s rising star. Is this an E! True Hollywood Story in the making? Writers Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid used this as a bit of misdirection. We might have expected an epic downfall, but instead, we got a different kind of fall from grace.
We’re not talking about a descent into drugs and violence. This is still an Archie comic, after all. It falls back on those simple joys since in the scheme of things, that’s all this character really wants. At first I was a little put off by this ending, but the more I dwell on it, the more I see how this is a perfect way to wrap up the series. It gets to the heart of what Archie was looking for in the first place and gave him a taste of all the glory that’s out there. He doesn’t need that in order to be happy. That’s the lesson here.

The artwork for Archie 1955 #5 is split between Ray-Anthony Height, Joe Eisma, and Rick Burchett. There’s no rhyme or reason for this as it’s not like each artist handles specific scenes or anything. This makes the transition from one to another feel clunky and abrupt. It disrupts the flow of the story when the artwork suddenly changes so drastically. Fortunately, the comic is properly credited up front so we know who did what.
To be clear, all three artists turn in solid work in Archie 1955 #5. They capture the overall tone of the story and this world. Colorist Glenn Whitmore sets the mood for each scene, amplifying the loneliness Archie feels even when he’s surrounding by an adoring public. Shadows are used very well in this case, adding a darkness to the otherwise brightly colored comic.

The anger that’s bubbling up inside Archie comes out in a great blow up with Hiram. Letterer Jack Morelli captures this well. You can hear the smugness in Hiram’s voice as he makes demands of Archie, bossing him around like he owns him. In some cases, he does, thanks to the fine print in all the contracts he forced the kid to sign. The shackles come off as Archie sees the light and finally understands how Hiram only saw him as a dollar sign all this time.

As with Archie 1941, Archie 1955 explored real world history through the eyes of these fictional characters. It dug into the birth of rock ‘n’ roll putting Archie right in the heart of some huge moments. This series didn’t pack quite as big a punch as the previous one, but it was still rather enjoyable. I’m curious if the publisher will continue this into future decades as this is a pretty cool concept, especially with the scope these characters have.
Archie 1955 #5 from Archie Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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