Story: Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn
Art: Ray-Anthony Height, Joe Eisma
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Jack Morelli
What They Say:
This is it—the show-stopping conclusion of Archie’s rise to fame at the birth of rock ‘n’ roll! Archie’s star is soaring, but not everyone—even Archie himself—can handle his newfound fame.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The fifth and final issue of the series is one that puts the screws to Archie pretty hard and we see just what kind of an impact it’s having on others as well. Waid and Augustyn have given us a pretty fun run where we’ve seen the highs and lows for Archie and the impact on friends and family as well, sometimes in small panels and other times in bigger ways. With the finale, we get Ray-Anthony Height handling most of the artwork while Joe Eisma steps in for a few pages but it’s all pretty seamless, making it easy to enjoy without pages or panels that stick out as though it comes from another book. The result is a satisfying if somewhat predictable end that I can’t find much to complain about.
The simple reality is that Hiram Lodge is working his product, Archie, to the bone in order to secure as much as he can from it. He’s doing so in a cold and brutal way that’s wearing down Archie and causing fractures in his relationship with Veronica as well as Reggie and Jughead. In fact, the latter two are now breaking away since they’ve barely been appearing with him at all and are signing elsewhere in order to try and ride a wave before everything fades. That’s a big impact on Archie and it has him nearly pleading with Veronica to try and just get out of all of this. But she’s all too aware of what her father is like and their plan to put together as much money as possible won’t be in place in time. And that means he’ll have to re-sign with Hiram again for a while, which will have him hawking more and more garbage and singing things that leave him hollow and empty.
It’s interesting to go through the range of things that Lodge does have him doing, from acting with horses and doing Oscar Mayer promotions, and we see the way he keeps Archie on a tight leash. Restricting his potential as an actor a well by demanding top billing – even over Liz Taylor – makes it clear the game that Lodge is running. More and more, he builds the brand but keeps it under his tight control. So it’s a beautiful thing toward the end, as we see who is relaying the story to the writer, how Archie found a way to save himself and the love of his life if she’ll take the risk as well. There’s always a thrill in watching someone stand up for themselves and Archie has been abused and gaslit pretty strongly here by Lodge. So the comeuppance is delightful to watch and seeing how it plays out in classic mystery form with a “where are they now?” element hits a sweet spot.
I continue to enjoy the various takes on Archie throughout the years and in different environments as it opens him up to a good bit of exploration, just like the rest. The 1955 series was one that was far too familiar having grown up seeing stories about teens that were basically put through this kind of system on a regular basis so there weren’t a lot of surprises. The writers did a solid job of capturing parts of it without making it a caricature while the art team, which shifted more than I cared for, managed better consistency than I expected and had a lot of fun with it. It’s definitely a fun book and one that in collected form ought to find a decent audience to enjoy it since it’s a solidly self-contained work.
Age Rating: 12+
Released By: Archie Comics
Release Date: February 12th, 2020