What better time to be reading horror comics than the end of October? Yes, dear readers, spooky season is well and truly upon us, so here I am with my […]
What better time to be reading horror comics than the end of October? Yes, dear readers, spooky season is well and truly upon us, so here I am with my review of the second issue of unlikely horror comic Afterlife with Archie.
The first issue was a genuine surprise, dropping the soap opera, lightly humourous antics of the Archie characters into a genuinely creepy and deadly serious horror story. The suburban pseudo-realistic setting evoking Stephen King’s horror tapesy, with Archie’s Americana feel only adding to that comparison. Though the switch from gentle teen comedy and safe, all-ages romantic entanglements to a zombie horror played straight could have felt jarring, in the safe hands of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla, it was a potent mix and a great start to the series.
In this second issue, the now-undead Jughead is on the loose – but with it being Halloween, the denizens of Riverdale aren’t exactly quick to catch on that he’s a real zombie. The Halloween dance, with everyone in costume, is the perfect place for Jughead’s condition to spread…
There’s a few threads running through this issue, with out-of-town rich kids turning up to cause a little mischief of their own (prior to the real havoc kicking off), a pair of characters meeting in a diner to discuss their so-far clandestine relationship and even some of the tale told in flashback by Veronica to her father, with the purpose of this revealed at the issue’s climax. Though it can feel a bit less focused than the first issue due to these disparate situations, it’s clear that more is being set up for the rest of the series.
I’m once again impressed with Aguirre-Sacasa’s handling of the characters in their much darker setting; though the situations they find themselves in may be very different to the usual status quo, they’re handled respectfully and are the same characters they’ve always been. Francovilla’s art is also superb, as is to be expected – with the solid blocks of colours using a dark, yet lurid, colour scheme and great use of shadows adding a really unique feel to his pencils.
Not only do we have the main story here, but there’s also a classic reprint of a horror story from the Archie Comics vault. Originally published in the 70s in ‘Chilling Adventures in Sorcery’, the Gray Morrow penned/illustrated tale ‘…Cat!’ is about an ex-cat burglar, fresh out of prison, looking for lucrative targets for his particular set of skills in the Caribbean. Setting his sights on some precious stones, it’s not long before he’s in a situation way over his head. It’s a great little extra with some superb, moody, black and white art. It’s a daft tale that ends extremely abruptly with an ironic twist – it’s a great bonus on top of the main feature though.
So, with its second issue, the improbably excellent Afterlife with Archie continues to impress. With its final caption dangling an irresistible mystery in front of the reader, it won’t be long before this particular reader is back in Riverdale, to see how the zombie apocalypse continues to play out.
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