Story by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artwork by Francesco Francavilla
Lettering by Jake Morelli
“All hell breaks loose when a fateful accident sets a series of events in motion that will threaten the town of Riverdale like never before! When the dead begin to rise, craving human flesh, it’s up to Archie, Betty & Veronica to fight for their lives against the zombie hordes led by their former pal, Jughead…”
“This is how the end of the world begins…”
The cover exclaims “All new chilling tales!” and this description couldn’t be more spot on. Aguirre-Sacasa throws us right into the action which, of course, begins ‘in the dead of night’. From the outset the narrative is powerful and engaging, we’re immediately set on a tumultuous path. A path paved with witchcraft, necromancy and ultimately, the undead. It had to be difficult for Aguirre-Sacasa to envisage a way to introduce this chilling tale, as the title of the book is a huge giveaway to the premise. Despite this, Afterlife with Archie #1 is compelling and exciting and manages to be unlike any zombie fiction I have seen or read before. It has all of the conventions to make it a zombie book but none of the flavourlessness that tends to accompany the genre. Aguirre-Sacasa injects life into an age old tale. The narrative has tremendous pace, it carries the reader from start to finish seamlessly. There are no dull or lackluster moments, only moments filled with tension and suspense.
Francavilla’s artwork was a deciding factor in my reading of this book. His style is ideal for a book called “Afterlife with Archie”. Both his regular cover and his awesome variant are creepy, dark and perfect for the kind of thing this book is going for. With Francavilla, I always think I can know what to expect, being such a huge fan of his work. However, as with every other book bearing his name, he manages to surprise and excite me. Francavilla was meant to draw horror. If you follow him on Twitter you’ll have probably seen his posters for various classic horror films, now imagine a comic book filled with that dark, perfect artwork and you get Afterlife with Archie. The colour palette used in this book is really something to marvel at. The oranges really give the book a spooky, Halloween feel. He uses so few colours, yet manages to appear to use the whole spectrum. You could describe his work as minimalistic but then you would be overlooking the fact that to make something look so beautiful and perfect, it takes a certain degree of genius and a whole lot of time.
As my first venture into the world of Archie Comics, I never felt like I was missing something. Both Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla have done a great deal to make this book accessible to those who don’t usually read Archie Comics and that in itself is a huge achievement. There’s a great balance of suspense and humour which will bring me back for the next issue. It has all of the makings of a great comic and hopefully it has the readership too.