I’ve been reading Afterlife with Archie after picking up the first four issues at Doctor No’s Comics and Games in Woodstock.
I am very ashamed to say that issue four left me in tears.
This is not at all the kind of comic I was expecting. The premise is pretty simple, we’ve thrown Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and the rest of the gang in to a supernaturally initiated Zombie Apocalypse.
This is a common trope in comics today, and most of the takes on this them (including the excellent Night of the Living Deadpool) have mixed humor in with their horror, and emotional warefare. Afterlife with Archie has, so far, decided against reaching for the cheap laughs that the scenario could provide, instead opting for a serious and genuinely heart-wrenching approach that is both surprising and refreshing.
Everyone knows Archie. Most of us have read at least one or two Archie comics. These characters are familiar, and while it has been many years since I last purused an Archie title, and I found little had changed in the Archieverse at the opening of “Afterlife with Archie”. Archie is still wibbling between Betty and Veronica, Jughead still loves Hot Dog more than he does any real people. Technology has progressed, but it remains as unobtrusive as ever.
In fact, aside from the Zombies, the thing that surprised me most about this iteration of the Archieverse is how three dimensional many of the characters are. As I read, I find myself genuinely sympathizing with characters that I had, at one time, written off as lazy two-dimensional caricatures of actual teenagers.
“Afterlife with Archie” is, at turns, sweet, terrifying, heartwarming, and devastating (and that’s just the first four issues.) The storytelling is masterful, and the art is genuinely creepy.
I cannot recommend this comic strongly enough.