Review by Jorge Solis
Prepare to be shocked and thrilled as “Afterlife With Archie” #5 delivers a knockout punch as the series comes to its first concluding chapter. The zombie apocalypse has burnt the innocent and wholesome town of Riverdale to the ground. Since its first issue, the “Afterlife With Archie” series has been one of the best reads for horror fans.
WRITTEN BY: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
ART BY: Francesco Francavilla
PUBLISHER: Archie Comics
RELEASE: May 14, 2013
Zombie Jughead spread the flesh-eating disease when he crashed the Halloween Dance at Riverdale High. Archie Andrews was able to rescue a few of his classmates, including the drama queen Veronica and the do-gooder Betty, from danger. Rather than be in the threesome arms of Veronica and Betty, Archie went through the dark woods in search of his parents. Archie was only able to save his mother as his zombie father viciously attacked them. How long does Archie have before he becomes one of the undead?
What’s really interesting about Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s writing is how he develops the character growth for Archie Andrews. In the first installment, Archie is too shy to get involved, becoming a supporting character in his own story. At the Halloween Dance, Archie slowly becomes the reluctant hero cornered in an extraordinary situation. In this installment, Aguirre-Sacasa continues Archie’s development in his own coming-of-age tale. Archie isn’t a full-fledged hero yet, but we are seeing the makings of a confident leader.
Aguirre-Sacasa makes excellent use of flashbacks though the viewpoint of butler Hubert H. Smithers. Aguirre-Sacasa provides a touching and heartfelt back-story between Smithers and Veronica that I didn’t even know was there. As the reader, we root for Smithers to survive as he never falters being the father figure for Veronica. Even though Veronica is too full of herself to realize the truth, Smithers treats her like his own daughter, even though they’re not related by blood.
The phenomenal imagery from Francesco Francavilla is a major highlight for me. I just want to study his color scheme all day, finding out how Francavilla makes the blue and orange tones work. Francavilla delivers such touching facial expressions when Smithers looks at Veronica. There is genuine emotion in Smithers’ eyes as he contemplates saying the right thing to her. You actually forget you’re reading a terrifying zombie book and lose yourself in this emotional family drama.
Francavilla does something truly impressive with the panel layouts during the climatic conclusion. In a single page, through 15 panels divided, Francavilla is able to connect each image together perfectly. The eye direction follows the panels one by one, never losing a beat. Everything feels so cohesive as Francavilla creates one spectacular image.
“Afterlife With Archie” #5 concludes on a riveting finale, making readers anxious for the next story arc. I can’ wait to see what happens next in the “Afterlife With Archie” series as Sabrina The Teenage Witch returns.