Spawned from a mock variant cover last year, “Afterlife with Archie” is another of the many unique attempts by Archie Comics to re-claim their relevance. After wisely acknowledging that there are such things as gay people in their universe, Archie is now embracing the horror genre. Thankfully, this crossover isn’t disastrous like their crossover with The Punisher. This is more demented with a hint of genius like “Marvel Zombies.” I don’t know how long this series can go before it gets boring, but so far I’m loving the dark nature of the Archie Universe.
The “Afterlife” title plays the Archie Universe with a darker and more dread filled sense of realism. Archie is bland, Betty and Veronica are skanks willing to do whatever it takes to win Archie, Reggie is a prick, and surely enough his recklessness starts the zombie apocalypse. After he runs over Jughead’s dog Hot Dog, Jughead seeks the help of Sabrina, the teenage witch. After her aunts fail to heal him, Jughead asks them to bring him back from the dead. Refusing to do so, warning that it’s always better to just let the dead be, Sabrina seeks out Jughead and uses the Necronomicon to revive Hot Dog.
Much to my surprise, Sabrina pays dearly for her defying the laws of the coven, as her aunts appear in ghoulish attire, taking Sabrina’s powers away and damning her to a year in a nether realm. Sadly, Hot Dog rises and comes back with a vicious disposition, attacking Jughead. As Riverdale celebrate their Halloween dance, Jughead turns in to a zombie, attacking his parents, and Mr. Weatherbee, unleashing an apocalypse on Riverdale.
The artwork by Francesco Francovilla is very reminiscent of Charlie Adlard’s work on “The Walking Dead,” with darker hues and a more grim representation of the Archie world. He eschews all the bright and colorful line work from canonical Archie comics, in favor of grittier character interpretations that match the more realistic depictions of the core characters of the series. Promising gore, grue, and many deaths among the core cast, “Afterlife with Archie” is a demented little segue in to the mythos that calls back to traditional zombie fiction. I look forward to seeing what the title has in store for zombie geeks.