1941 was the year that determined the outcome of World War II. It witnessed the collapse of the Soviet-Third Reich alliance following the failure of Operation Barbarossa and in the aftermath of Japan’s devastating attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7th, America declared war on the Axis Powers, both of which greatly strengthened the Allied cause and helped to hasten the demise, and defeat, of Nazi Germany. It was also the year in which Archie Andrews and his friends were first introduced to the world and to commemorate Archie’s first appearance, Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn have reimagined Riverdale and its famous sons and daughters in the run up to, and the period following, one of the darkest days in America’s history.
Beginning in the summer of that year, Waid and Augustyn’s story reflects the slow death of innocence that 1941 brought to America by using Archie as measure of the inevitable march to conflict. Distracted and easily irritated, Archie’s obsession with the world outside of Riverdale puts him at odds with his nearest and dearest and they can’t understand why he’s alienating himself as they try to maintain a façade of normality despite the oncoming storm. When the call to arms finally arrives, Archie is the only citizen of Riverdale who seems to accept the path his country has been forced down and instinctively knows what he has to do. Caught in the hell of conflict with the unlikeliest of comrades, 1941 is the story of what happened to Archie, his friends and Riverdale when America went to war.
If you’re expecting a light-hearted, by the numbers Archie story that breezes through, and glosses over, small town America and its citizens role in the Second World War, then 1941 isn’t the book for you. As they do in every war, soldiers fight and soldiers die and those who love them have to try and pick up the pieces of, and rebuild, lives broken by the actions of politicians, and 1941 clutches tightly to those inescapable truths. A frank, gripping and at times difficult to read examination of the run up to and effect of, the war on a tightly knit community of friends and family, Waid and Augustyn’s tale is given its sense of time and place by the remarkable and incredibly detailed period art and colours of Peter Krause and Kelly Fitzpatrick. 1941 isn’t the easiest Archie book that you’ll ever read, but it is one of the most rewarding. Some years shape the world… Tim Cundle