Advance Review: ‘Afterlife With Archie’ #2

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With terrific snappy dialogue and incredibly stunning artwork, “Afterlife With Archie” #2 continues to scare you out of your wits. The wholesome suburban town of Riverdale has become the epicenter of the zombie apocalypse. Who would have thought the red-headed Archibald “Archie” Andrews would be the one to save Betty and Veronica from the undead? The stakes are higher, the jokes are funnier, and the scares keep piling on in “Afterlife With Archie”.

WRITTEN BY: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
ART BY: Francesco Francavilla
PUBLISHER: Archie Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASE: Nov. 20, 2013

The Halloween Dance at Riverdale High has taken a deadly turn for the worst when a zombified Jughead crashes the festivities. No one at first suspects anything because they think Jughead is wearing such ridiculously awesome make-up. But then, the zombie plague starts to quickly spread as the infected Jughead begins to bite his fellow classmates. Everyone helplessly watches in shock as Jughead viciously tears at Ethel’s neck with his bare teeth. Ethel is supposed to be dead when she hits the floor. When Ethel rises, she suddenly has the urge to feed on Betty and Veronica.

What’s impressive about Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s writing is how Archie and his gang, who have been around for generations, are still relevant to modern day times. In the interlude segment at Pop’s Diner, notice how Nancy and Ginger are jokingly talking about boys but they are secretly talking about themselves. There is a running theme about relationships and how much of yourself you want to give to that other person. Even Archie is hiding from himself whenever he’s around Betty and Veronica. They’re hiding from their true selves and wearing different kinds of masks because they are afraid of what other people might think of them.

I really enjoyed how Archie’s character arc has developed during these two installments. Wearing tights and a cape, Archie represents the reluctant hero in this extraordinary situation. Aguirre-Sacasa’s witty dialogue reveals a lot about the characters who are supposed to be in costume. Just because the drama queen Veronica is annoyed by the do-gooder Betty, that doesn’t mean she wants her to end up physically hurt. I found it ironic and hilarious that Betty is trying to save Ethel’s life just because she is wearing a sexy nurse’s outfit. Poor Moose, the dumb jock, who’s actually on the nose about what’s going on, but no one is really paying attention to him.

Francesco Francavilla’s phenomenal artwork makes great use of the pop culture references with the Halloween setting. One of the bitten Riverdale High students is dressed as the Fourth Doctor Who, from the ’70s. Notice the attention to detail as the long scarf waves in the air while the infected student is running away. At the dance, we just see a silhouette of Batman standing next to a frightened Jason Voorhees. The most symbolic of the costumes is Ethel dressed up as Snow White. In an incredible splash page, Francavilla illustrates the blood flowing from Ethel’s fingertip, dripping onto her fallen apple.

I loved the lighting and color scheme Francavilla uses throughout the panels. Francavilla uses white and bluish tones during the normal, everyday life situations. The artist then paints in the orange and red hues to heighten the costumes and horror aspects. It’s such an interesting unique look to the comic that drives the scares and dark humor. There is an incredible wide shot of the Riverdale High Students walking aimlessly through the woods, which is just creepy and striking at the same time.

The creative team-up of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla continues to bring in tons of great ideas as they mix scare and laughs in “Afterlife With Archie” #2. The end result is an unforgettable installment to the Archie franchise. An artistic triumph, the “Afterlife With Archie” series modernizes and melds teen dramas with the zombie genre.

Rating: 4.5/5 skulls

Reviewed by – Jorge Solis