The very concept of an Archie Comics zombies book seems absurd, doesn’t it? The bright, clean, world of the Archie gang is the four-color equivalent of Norman Rockwell, and as perfect a depiction of idealized teen years as you’ll find in any media. There’s a reason these characters have endured nearly as long as Superman, Batman, and Captain America, and part of that is their durability. So the question shouldn’t be “why pit the Archie crew against zombies?” In fact, it should be “why didn’t they do this sooner?”
Afterlife With Archie #1 is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with art by the soon-to-be immortal Francesco Francavilla (who seems to be vying for the title of hardest working artist in comics), and it doesn’t look one bit like a “traditional” Archie comic. No, you see, Mr. Francavilla has drawn this comic in his usual moody style, with angles, colors, and shadows that owe more to the classic EC horror titles of the ’50s than the Archie style epitomized by guys like Dan DeCarlo. Amazingly, the faces and body language are all Archie, though, and every one of these characters is instantly recognizable.
And here’s the amazing thing: Aguirre-Sacasa writes all of these characters with their perfect, traditional comic voices. The only difference is the situations they’re in. But the way they speak, act, and react to the horrific situations is exactly how you would expect. The humor is a little more subtle than usual (Veronica showing up to the Halloween Dance as Vampirella, Archie in his Pureheart the Powerful costume, Betty wanting to dress as blondes from the Hitchcock filmography), but these are definitely the gang we know and love.
Oh, and there’s horror. This is as proper a horror comic as you’re going to see this season. The zombie plague begins simply enough: Jughead’s beloved pup, Hot Dog, gets hit by a car, and the despondent young man takes him to Sabrina for help. Necromancy tends to breed zombies, though, and the resurrected Hot Dog bites his owner, and the zombie plague is off to the races. Trust me, you’ve never seen Sabrina and her creepy Aunties like this.
I’d be willing to call Afterlife With Archie #1 a perfect comic if it didn’t take the death of poor Hot Dog to kick off the proceedings. Sorry, folks…anyone who knows me knows that I just can’t deal when doggies die. Couldn’t it have been from Big Ethel giving ol’ Jughead a hickey or something?
But really, this comic has to be seen to be believed. Check out the trailer and see if this doesn’t get your attention!