Afterlife With Archie: Escape From Riverdale (2014)
By: J.R. McNamara on July 30, 2014 | Comments
The Inky Depths

Fukitor Cover Art
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art: Francesco Francavilla
Afterlife with Archie started as a joke alternate cover for the long running comic series Life With Archie, but due to its subsequent popularity, and the popularity of comics such as The Walking Dead and Marvel Comics' Marvel Zombies, the makers decided that it should become a regular series. This first collection, Escape From Riverdale, combines the first 5 issues and has, as a bonus, all the alternate covers of the individual issues presented along with artist Francesco Francavilla's initial sketch layouts for each page, which is kind of like a DVD making of!

The story goes like this... and some of it may sound familiar. Jughead has a serious problem: his beloved pet, Hot Dog, was accidentally run over by Reggie late one night, so Jughead takes his dog to Sabrina, the teenage witch, to see if her aunt's can bring him back to life. They can't however, as Hot Dog is well and truly gone. Sabrina, however, visits Jughead later that night with a book called the Necronomicon, which is full of dark magic, and the idea to bring the dog back to life. They go their separate ways, but Sabrina is punished by her aunts for using dark magic and banished to another dimension.

Soon after, Hot Dog rises from the dead, but he has changed. He bites Jughead, who of course becomes the first of the living dead, and he then starts infecting the town of Riverdale, beginning at the school Halloween party. Most of the gang eventually manage to escape and hole up in the Lodge residence... but are they really safe there from the legions of the undead?

I really wanted to like this comic, but it fell apart on so many levels. First, Archie comics have a 'look' developed by the aforementioned Dan DaCarlo and continued since by artists like Stan Goldberg. Occasionally they have experimented outside that look, and usually with average success. The art in this is done in a more traditional comic style, and I'm sorry, but if I am offered "Archie Vs Zombies", that's what I want, not something that is reminiscent of The Walking Dead. This is no criticism of artist Francesco Francavilla, whose panel design and color palette for a zombie comic are fantastic, but I wanted Archie comics, not a horror comic with familiar names.

The second, and for me the main issue, was the story. There is nothing new here. The resurrection of Hot Dog is stolen completely from Pet Semetary, the incantation from the Necronomicon is straight out of Evil Dead, and the eventual holing up and escape from Veronica's mansion feels a lot like the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Is a new idea so hard to come by? Sure, I understand these nods may have been an attempt to get horror fans onside with nudge nudge, wink winks, but they were so obvious and cheesy that for me it felt more like fromage than homage.

With these art and story issues, Afterlife With Archie feels like it doesn't know what its identity is. Is it aimed at horror fans? If so, the story will disappoint. Is it aimed at Archie fans? In that case, the art will disappoint. If it is aimed at fans of both, such as myself, it will disappoint on both levels.I will say though, the book itself, is nicely presented.

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