Last year Archie Comics surprised us all with the incredibly smart, terrifying, and strongly written/horrifically and beautifully illustrated “Afterlife with Archie” series in which our loveable crew from Riverdale is half turned into zombies, half on the run from zombies. In the shortest of recaps: both Sabrina and Jughead, now known as Jugdead or “Patient Zero” (Kevin is the best with his apocalyptic lingo in this current issue), unwittingly bring on the zombie apocalypse when Sabrina uses a spell from the Necronomicon to try and revive Jughead’s beloved Hot Dog. Jughead is turned by Hot Dog, stumbles into the school dance and chaos ensues. Not only are a great deal of our favorite Archie characters killed and turned, but Sabrina is severely punished by her aunts and sent off to be forcibly married to Cthulhu. This month, we pick back up as our small group of survivors try to celebrate some semblance of Thanksgiving and put their dead to rest.
WRITTEN BY: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
ART BY: Francesco Francavilla
PUBLISHER: Archie Comics
RELEASE: December 10, 2014
This issue, subtitled “Betty: R.I.P. Chapter Two—Dear Diary…” is told largely through Betty’s diary entries. It’s a slow-burn walk down memory lane. But an entertaining and insightful one, at that. We see the beginning of her friendship with Veronica Lodge, how she came to know Archie and even more importantly, how she came to compete with Veronica over Archie. We learn more about her mysterious sister, Polly (something tells me we will see a lot more of this bitchy sis in the issues to come), and we get a glimpse into the crazy-creepy early life of the too-close twins, Jason and Cheryl.
Meanwhile, in present day Riverdale, Archie insists on “burying” their dead and saying goodbye. But they don’t get a lot of time to mourn because those exact dead start arriving and it’s time to run. At this point it’s been a month since the fateful Halloween school dance and by Dilton’s calculations, there could be up to 200,000 infected. It’s going to make for a difficult journey and a fantastic second arc.
As they try to balance their days with running, hiding, and resting, the gang comes up against trial after trial. The group start sharing the same concerning dreams about Sabrina, Mr. Lodge and Veronica (of course) can’t make anything simple. He pulls bullshit rank and Veronica showcases her classic bitchy sociopathic characteristics when faced with the reality that (most likely) has every reader cheering: Archie seems to have finally landed on one girl… and she’s a blonde. And most shocking of all, after a foray into the woods to catch some Thanksgiving dinner, Cheryl emerges looking like “Carrie after prom” as Betty states it. Without Jason…
This issue is an impeccable start to the second arc of “Afterlife with Archie.” From the background history to the seemingly end of Archie’s famous love triangle, to the curious fate of Sabrina, and the dastardly Cheryl and her questionable actions in the woods, there is never a dull moment. It’s a “set up” issue, sure, so it’s not jam-packed with hellish action, but it’s finely tuned and perfectly steeped in character development. Let’s give it up for the return of “Afterlife with Archie” because folks, this is one hell of a series.