Time to cross off ‘heavily implied masturbation’ on your ‘Things I Never Expected to See in an Archie Comic’ Bingo Card! In issue nine, we’re delving into the mind of Reggie Mantle, Archie’s long-term frenemy – and what a damaged, tortured place Reggie’s brain is.

We’ve known for a long time throughout the series that it was Reggie that hit and fatally wounded Jughead’s dog, setting the entire zombie apocalypse in motion. Yet we’ve not seen much of what led to the events of that fateful night – nor have we spent much time with Reggie at all. This issue fixes that in spectacularly compelling style.

Opening with a clever, picture book-style summary of Reggie’s strained friendship with Archie, the story takes us to different time periods as Reggie confesses his major sin to Kevin Keller – and takes drastic action in terms of his place in the group of survivors.

Zeroing back in on the origins of not just the apocalypse but Reggie’s place in it is a masterstroke, bringing the series’ mojo back after a few wobbly issues that focused too much on referencing other famous horror milestones (notably and most obviously, the Cthulhu Mythos and The Shining). Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s plotting and character work is phenomenal, really taking the time to lay the groundwork for a truly shocking ending – with readers unfamiliar with Archie and the characters in his orbit being well catered for in the expositional flashbacks, which also double as foreshadowing for the story at hand, making them worthwhile even for long-term fans. What more is there to say about Francesco Francavilla’s incredible art at this point? Well, he does also add a new style into the mix with the picture book opening, though that is a brief interlude before we’re thrust back into the events of the current apocalypse, as well as the scenes leading up to it.

It’s a shame that there’s no backup story from Chilling Adventures in Sorcery this time around, but there is a preview of the then-upcoming Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sister title.

Join me next time for what is, sadly, the final issue of the series; let’s hope we get the finale we deserve from this excellent, unlikely horror comic.

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