An incredibly spine-chilling read, “Afterlife With Archie Vol. 1: Escape From Riverdale” delivers a perfect balance of laughs and scares in each page. The wholesome town of Riverdale will never be the same again as the zombie virus begins to spread. With its first story arc collected, discover why “Afterlife With Archie” is one of the best series for horror fans.
Reviewed by Jorge Solis
Jughead suddenly saw his beloved pet Hot Dog get run over by a speeding car and drive away. Because he couldn’t bear to lose his best friend, Jughead went to Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Though her aunts warned her, Sabrina recited the cursed words from the Necronomicon, the Book of the Dead. Hot-Dog did return from the grave but he also brought back Hell with him. The zombie infection spread onto Jughead and slowly grew in numbers. No one at the Halloween Dance at Riverdale High really thought that zombie Jughead was going to turn them all into the undead.
Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is able to put a spotlight on Archie and the rest of the Riverdale gang throughout the narrative. Archie starts out as second fiddle and grows up in his own coming-of-age tale. Sabrina the Teenage Witch makes an impressive debut that you just want her to back for more. The dumb jock Moose, my favorite of the group, delivers the best line in the whole series. We also discover there is more to Veronica than being a rich and snobby drama queen.
Aguirre-Sacasa makes excellent use of flashbacks though the viewpoints of Veronica’s butler Hubert H. Smithers and Archie’s dog, Vegas. In the theme about unconditional love, Aguirre-Sacasa delivers these touching and heartfelt back-stories that enrich the relationships. The love story about a boy and his dog feels genuinely earnest and honest. I thought it such a fresh take on Smithers that he would actually see Veronica as his own daughter.
The phenomenal imagery from Francesco Francavilla is an extra special highlight for me. I just love how Francavilla is able to make the blue and orange tones work. Everything about the color scheme makes your eye glued to the page. The Halloween Dance is actually where all the gory stuff really happens. In an incredible splash page, Francavilla illustrates the blood flowing from Ethel’s fingertip, dripping onto her fallen apple.
Francavilla delivers a unique experiment on the panel layouts that works perfectly each time. In a single page, through 15 panels, Francavilla matches each panel neatly to deliver a story within a story. As the reader, you understand what Francavilla is saying through his illustrations, without needing the use of captions and dialogue balloons.
An artistic triumph, “Afterlife With Archie Vol.1: Escape From Riverdale” takes Archie and friends to new territory without losing its creative essence. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla is a team-up made that must be worshipped by horror fans.