Afterlife With Archie Makes Long Awaited Return

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Afterlife With Archie 7 - Betty RIP Part 2, Betty's Diary

After what seems like an interminable wait -- always the sign of an anticipated comic -- AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE returns to the shelves with the seventh issue of the horror series.

It's been a month since the zombie apocalypse originated out of Riverdale, and the zombie plague has been spreading with alarming, exponential speed. On their own, and left to their own resources, Archie, Betty, Veronica and a handful of other survivors of Riverdale decide to make camp and observe a Thanksgiving. But the threat of the horde -- led by their former best buddy, Jughead -- is always out there, and it's been following them.

If you haven't picked up this comic, it's probably because you're thinking that it's "Archie meets zombies" and that it's thus a gimmick. If that's the only layer you're seeing in this, you're missing so much of the depth that writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa brings to the show. Sometimes the zombies are the least frightening aspect of this series, as Aguirre-Sacasa explores every nook and cranny of the Archie universe, drawing on elements from the past several decades to create new touchpoints for the readers. In this particular issue, Betty revisits moments in her past, through the process of recreating her diary from memory (BETTY'S DIARY was one of the many Archie titles published under the house banner). Through these moments, we get glimpses inside the Cooper household, including the tumultuous and angry life of Betty's older sister, Polly. We also share Betty's first encounter with Veronica Lodge, and are there with her when Archie Andrews moves into the house next door.

But the shivery creepy factor in this issue really comes to the fore as we do a little more exploration into the history of the Blossoms -- Cheryl and Jason -- and see a little more of their home life and family traditions. For those who've read FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, you'll understand the subtext hinted at in this story.

While the alternative covers -- this one by Andrew Pepoy -- draw on the classic ARCHIE house style, the standard covers and the interior panels by Francesco Francavilla are truly stunning work, representing a vision of Archie and the Archie characters in a way that makes them more real than ever before. Francavilla's vision of the Archie characters in a zombie apocalyptic setting isn't just accomplished through the pencils, but in the colors, which are always muted -- far from the bright, cheery colors of PEP or EVERYTHING'S ARCHIE -- and often tinged in a dull red to keep that sense of Hitchcockian suspense tingling from page to page.

If you're any kind of a zombie fan at all, and you haven't picked up AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE, you're missing not just the best zombie title currently on the market, but one of the best horror comics being presently published. AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE is Archie Comics' "Vertigo Moment," and you want to be there for it.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0