After four issues and numerous verbal jabs from my co-hosts, I felt it was time to formally address the fact that I am reading an Archie comic.
I imagine many of you are now remembering the old familiar magazine racks at the grocery store and picturing Archie sharing a malt with Betty & Veronica. That’s fair. That’s the image most of us have when we hear someone talking about Archie comics. But if its Riverdale hijinks, and strangely innocent polygamous high school relationships you’re looking for, this might not be the comic for you. On the other hand, if you’ve always wished you could see Riverdale transposed into an episode of The Walking Dead, this might be a dream come true.
My local comic book shop (LCS) has stated that Afterlife with Archie is their top selling series, and while I haven’t exactly scoured the internet, I have yet to find a negative review of any of the first four issues. It’s still hard to blame anyone for being skeptical. “Archie Comics” and “Horror” aren’t exactly words anyone is used to hearing in the same sentence. When I picked up Issue #1, I assumed I was in for a campy “what if” story that would lose my attention before I made it to the end of the book. What I got was a captivating story that made me eagerly anticipate the next issue.
As a credit to the author (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa), the overemployed zombie apocalypse plot device never feels tired or recycled in any of the first four issues of this series. The story keeps the reader interested and engaged throughout, but it’s the book’s aesthetic that really solicits the emotional investment from the audience. Francesco Francavilla’s art and colors create an experience almost entirely unique from anything else you will find on the shelves right now. The look and feel of the books compliment the tone and mood of the writing perfectly, creating a finished product that is absolutely deserving of all the praise this book has received.
Issue #4 was both disturbing and heart wrenching. I would normally support this claim with some evidence, but I don’t want to taint this gleaming review with any spoilers. If nothing else, I am confident that this book will surprise more than a few of you. Zombie dogs, deaths by baseball bat, romantic and/or creepy sexual tension… its all in here. If you have even the slightest connection to the Archie characters, enjoy the horror genre, the walking dead, and want to see an example of a beautifully executed book, I would definitely suggest giving this title a chance.
More often than not a book with this much hype will let you down, but in this rare case I would recommend paying heed to the masses. This is a comic you need to check out.
(Aside: On the Graphic Novice podcast, we have often discussed which books to give to people looking to get into comics for the first time. This would certainly be one of my top candidates.)
In the event that you pick up this book and don’t like it, let me know. I’d love to hear your reasons… and according to the Graphic Novice policy manual, I owe you a beer.
As always, send your hate mail and cross-stitch patterns to Nickel at GraphicNovice.com