TITLE: Afterlife with Archie – Book One: Escape from Riverdale
YEAR: June 2014
COMPANY: Archie Comics
Story by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artwork: Francesco Francavilla
Lettering by Jack Morelli
Creative Consultant: Jesse Goldwater
I remember when I first heard about Archie Comics releasing a zombie comic book and I have to admit, I raised my eyebrows and felt like “why not, everyone is doing a zombie story these days”.
Titled “Afterlife with Archie”, the book was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artwork by Francesco Francavilla, back in 2013, the book received critical-acclaim and the success would lead Aguirre-Sacasa to become Archie Comics Chief Creative Officer.
The comic book marks the first Archie Comics title to be sold on the direct market only and also the company’s first title to not be aimed at children and rated “TEEN+”.
And while the book started in 2013 and there are ten issues that have been released (book one features issues #1-5 and book two to be released in the fall of 2017 to feature episodes #6-10), the series is still ongoing.
While I grew up with the classic Archie Comics and have not read an issue possibly since 1999, I decided, what the heck, I’ll give this book a try!
The story begins with Jughead coming to Sabrina’s house for help. His dog Hot Dog was hit by a car and hopes Sabrina can use her magic to save him.
Sabrina and her aunts, Hilda and Zelda try but Hot Dog is dead.
As Jughead tries to plea with the aunts to bring him back, they tell him that necromancy is the most dangerous magic.
Seeing Jughead devastated, Sabrina uses the Necromicon incantation and uses it on his dog and she tells him to go home and wait.
Unfortunately, Sabrina has violated her aunt’s trust and by breaking the covenant, she is punished for a year and must atone in the Nether-Realm under constant supervision and her mouth is sealed.
As Archie and friends prepare for Riverdale’s Halloween Dance, Archie notices that Reggie is acting guilty for some reason (it is revealed he is the one who hit Hot Dog with his car) and as Jughead doesn’t go to school, he goes to visit his dog who has turned to a zombie and bites Jughead.
As Archie goes to visit Jughead, Jughead tells Archie to leave Hot Dog alone and don’t mess with him. And to make sure his parents leave him alone as well.
While everyone is at the dance, Jughead turns to a zombie and slaughters his parents and turning them into zombies and he then bites into Mr. Weatherby and Geraldine.
Zombie Jughead then proceeds to the dance and when his girlfriend Ethel comes to greet him. And as everyone watches, everyone is horrified when he bites into Ethel and watch as he kills her and this leads to more zombie breakouts.
Meanwhile, Archie, Veronica, Betty, Reggie, Moose, Midge, Waldo and a few friends were able to escape to Veronica’s home up the hill to protect themselves from the zombies. Not knowing that one of their own was scratched by zombie. Meanwhile, Jughead is seen leading many zombies and pointing to the Lodge residence.
Will Archie and others survive the ordeal?
Having read the first book and reading it, not knowing what to think, but yet coming to the book with an open mind, I can easily say that I absolutely loved “Afterlife with Archie”.
The way the series was written, about Archie and friends trying to survive the zombie infestation and the storyline of the fear of dying and turning into a zombie, fear of their friends who may have been infected and their families who were at their home during the infestation, it’s the fear of the unknown that each of these characters are facing and author Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa manages to utilize the characters effectively. Artist Francesco Francavilla also did a magnificent job of creating this darker feel for the characters of Riverdale. I was quite impressed.
And you just don’t know who will live or die in this series as there are many surprises one will find throughout book one. So now, I wait impatiently for the release of “Afterlife with Archie” Book 2!
Overall, the first book is wonderful. Sure it’s violent, has blood and definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you have been reading Archie Comics and have wanted to see a more mature storyline, then “Afterlife with Archie” is a story worth reading!