This month’s “Afterlife With Archie” #8 pays homage to both Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla’s favorite horror classics, the most obvious being “The Shining.” As the gang tucks themselves away in an abandoned hotel in Vermont, they must decide how to deal with Cheryl, who if you remember, may or may not have hacked her brother to death in issue #7. Working with several timelines as Aguirre-Sacasa often does in “Afterlife,” the group votes on Cheryl’s tenuous future with them (in a very “The Walking Dead” move, I might add) while Archie sits in the bar relaying the accounts and sharing his feelings with Jughead’s ghost, exactly like Jack and Lloyd in the Overlook hotel bar in an amazing send up to “The Shining.”
WRITTEN BY: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
ART BY: Francesco Francavilla
PUBLISHER: Archie Horror
RELEASE: May 6, 2015
Although it’s Archie narrating the issue while speaking with Jughead’s ghosts over root beer floats, not a ton of the issue deals with him. We learn two things that will greatly influence the series as it continues. First of all: three generations back, the Andrews’s, the Cooper’s, and the Jones’s made a deal with our dear Witches of Greendale (Sabrina’s aunts) to keep the children of Riverdale safe. Only it comes with a price. One sacrificed kid from each of those families, each generation. First it was Archie’s great uncle. Then Betty’s aunt. Now they are coming up on the last generation and the Jones’s are left.
*Question from reviewer: Help a girl out…if Jughead is dead, and if the Witches took Jellybean Jones (as per the spectral conversation on the staircase of the hotel) wouldn’t the debt be paid? Yet Mrs. Andrews acted as if there was still this generation to pay off. Any clarification or thoughts in the comments section would be greatly appreciated.
The real question that remains, will the Witches continue to protect Riverdale now that their debt is collected, or is this massive apocalypse their way of turning their back on Riverdale?
The second revelation came when Cheryl decided to tell all the ladies of the hotel something…something that we, the reader, do not overtly know (we could probably guess) that left such an awful impact on Betty, I can’t image the other ladies left the conversation unscathed. Cheryl is quickly becoming one of the most interesting characters, which is new for an Archie comic.
While there was quite a wait between issues #7 and #8 (for good reason, cough cough FOX Riverdale pilot cough cough Sabrina cough cough) it was worth it and more than made up for it with the breakneck pace of issue #8 and the wealth of information given to us. We were clued into a lot of game-changers but that wasn’t the best part of this dynamite issue. The true heart of this gem was the conversation between Archie and Jug. Since Jughead dies in the first issue, we’ve missed out on a lot of the great friendship that (if you’re and Archie fan) we’ve come to love and expect. The familiar back and forth between the two was comforting in the midst of the chaos surrounding them. Outside of their little interaction, the rest of the crew is deciding whether or not to kill one of their own, but inside their bubble, “Shining” reference or not, it felt safe.
Here’s what I am waiting for, I’m waiting for one of “Afterlife With Archie’s” truly wholesome characters to “break bad” as it were. In almost every apocalypse story, there’s the leader, the wholesome piece of perfection in an otherwise horrid world, who eventually goes a bit batty or rougher around the edges than we’d thought possible. I want that to happen and I want it to be…you guessed it…Archie.
If the comic continues to follow any of “The Shining’s” plotline, I look forward to seeing what this hotel turns all of our innocent Riverdale residents into.