Monday, 27 April 2015

Afterlife With Archie #2 - Archie Comic Publications

If the superbly atmospheric Francesco Francavilla cover depicting a zombified Jughead Jones hungrily stalking his perturbed best friend in a cemetery, doesn’t give you fair warning that “Afterlife With Archie” is not your normal ‘jolly japes in the Midwest’ title. Then the opening few pages of “Dance Of The Dead” will certainly drive the message home. For as soon as the ghoulishly-coloured caper starts the reader’s senses are assailed with adult themes such as implied incest between siblings and the horrifying sight of a love struck young lady being eaten alive by her boyfriend whilst her friends look on and laugh… and then shout in fear and fright.

Even a sudden brief interlude is no less shocking in content as two school friends discuss putting an end to their “playing ‘Brokeback Riverdale’ and telling their families of their feelings for one another when a brain-hungry Mister Jones abruptly shuffles into the diner where they’re sitting. But far worse gore is yet to come as Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa starts to ramp up the terror and significantly increase the death toll.

Smart zombies are ordinarily something to be avoided, unless you’re the maestro of the macabre himself George A. Romero, and even he has critics following the 2005 release of his motion picture “Land Of The Dead”. But bestowing “the thing that was once Jughead Jones” with a sense of hatred for Veronica is a masterstroke on the part of Aguirre-Sacasa and really helps bring the grim reality of the situation home to both party-goer and reader alike.

Perhaps somewhat disappointingly what follows next could be argued as being fairly standard zombie fare. Having been savaged by Archie’s best friend, Ethel turns into a zombie herself and accompanied by the equally undead Principal Weatherbee and Miss Grundy, starts to feast upon a school hall packed full of screaming, panicking youngsters. However much of this issue’s strength lies in the fact that the American writer is making this bloodbath happen to some extremely beloved and recognisable individuals within the "Archie Comics" world… and once they’ve become infected they aren’t coming back. At least not without spewing bile from their mouths and wanting to sink their rancid teeth into other people’s jugular veins. This comic book really is a very new and difficult take on John L. Goldwater’s characters.

All this action is illustrated by Francesco Francavilla with his usual highly stylised yet somewhat minimalistic pencilling. The Italian’s best work is undoubtedly when he is drawing the zombies feasting upon their prey. Though the utter frustration and rage bestowed upon Jughead when he’s thwarted by Archie from attacking Veronica is wonderfully dynamic, and it is very easy to imagine the thunderous pounding the walking cadaver is giving to the chained locker room door when the ravenous ghoul is later trapped inside.
The variant cover art of "AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE" No. 2 by Francesco Francavilla


  1. I've been waiting for you to get round to reviewing issue #2, Simon, and you haven't disappointed with your spot on assessment. This is a series that goes from strength to strength and should be part of any zombie fans' collection. As you can tell, I'm a huge fan of Afterlife with Archie.

    1. Many thanks Bryan and sorry it took so long to post. Just so many comics out there at present I want to read :-) I do though hope to get through the backlog of "Afterlife With Archie" over the next few weeks now I've finished the mini-series "'68 Jungle Jim".

  2. Haven't read this but it seems it's something I should be looking out for.

    1. I think you'll love this Bob. Its not as graphically gory as '"68 Jungle Jim" but its a great story about an outbreak in a 'sleepy' American town.