Comic Review: Afterlife With Archie #1 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, October 27, 2013
I wouldn’t know what an Archie comic reads like these days, but they’re still chugging along decades after what one has to consider a long overdue expiration date. This is, of course, complete ignorance on my part, perhaps all the double digests and 1,000 page specials are jam packed with wonderful slices of teenage life from Archie’s world. I wouldn’t know, because I’m not enticed to reach for an Archie title when I browse the new release rack. However, when the cover features a painted visage of Jugghead in a very “EC Comics” style, then you’ve got my attention. And when further investigation reveals the book is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and drawn by Francesco Francavilla, then you’ve got my money.
The ensuing tale is one seriously fun and cool take on the Archie formula; featuring copious amounts of horror film references and Halloween atmosphere. One dark and stormy October night, Jugghead’s dog is hit by a car. He frantically rushes the pup to the gothic home of Sabrina (of the Teeneage Witch variety) in hopes she can work her magic to bring Jugghead’s for legged friend back from the dead. But alas, as Sabrina’s aunts inform them, the spark of life has left the dog, and any attempt to use black magic to bring him back would be against the very fabric of nature. Jugghead is dejected, but Sabrina is determined, and sneaks out that night to consult the Necronomicon, and bring Jugghead’s pet back, for better of for worse.
Of course, it’s worse, and the above actions begin a chain reaction that herald the zombie apocalypse. In the process we’re treated to Betty and Veronica sparring for Archie’s affections by enticing him with suggestive Halloween costumes (Sexy witch? Hitchcock Blonde? Vampirella???), arguments over who would win in a fight- Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers? And some dark deeds, including who really killed Jugghead’s dog, and Sabrina’s fate for using dark magic. And this is all in one issue of an apparent on-going series; which I have to admit is both surprising and bold. Aguirre-Sacasa absolutely nails the Archie formula, and adds his own twists, updates and sharp dialogue. Francavilla’s art is gorgeous, featuring appropriate mood and striking use of single colors to enhance the visual storytelling. I have no idea if Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla can keep this up, but I am completely on board for the ride.
Mania Grade: A
Written By: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Drawn By: Francesco Francavilla
Published By: Archie Comics