Saturday, 25 October 2014

Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale Review (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Francesco Francavilla)

Francesco Francavilla’s variant cover for Life with Archie #23 depicted zombified versions of Archie’s pals shuffling towards him and led the way to this spinoff series, Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale. 

After a car accident involving Jughead’s pet, Hot Dog, and a spell from Sabrina the teenage witch goes awry, the zombie apocalypse comes to Riverdale on the night of the Halloween dance. Archie and his friends must battle loved ones who have turned and somehow escape from their beloved town - but who will survive? 

I don’t really understand what’s so great about this book - it’s your standard zombie story that’s been done a thousand times already. Zombies slowly begin infecting more and more people, the uninfected go on the run, they hole up someplace safe until the zombies overwhelm them and they have to flee. Some live, some fall - that’s it. It’s even filled with stock scenes you see in every zombie story where people think a zombie is a costume until - shock! - it’s real. 

I’ve never read an Archie comic before but I know a little bit about the series. It’s pure Americana, malt shops, dances, and Archie is some kid who’s always got to choose between two interchangeable girls called Betty and Veronica. And why is Archie the main character anyway - he’s so boring! His sweater with an “A” on it had more personality than he did! 

Actually, all of the cast are boring so I don’t see the appeal of the series or how it’s lasted as long as it has. Unless the audience is made up entirely of hipsters who love to roll their eyes at Archie’s antics while styling their moustaches?

Maybe the book is better for established readers of that series, seeing the novelty horror factor introduced and seeing their beloved characters fighting for their lives? All I know is, I didn’t care about any of the characters and I really needed to given that the story is so generic. 

It’s great that Archie’s become a leading progressive comic with a gay student character, and there are a couple of closeted lesbians in this book too, but what’s up with that ginger-haired brother/sister pair? Because incest is strongly hinted at which was really unexpected, though maybe this is just in the Afterlife book and not a part of the main series? Either way, very risque! 

Francesco Francavilla’s art is wonderfully suited to the horror. There’s a good use of black and orange, perfect for the Halloween setting, and the zombies look unsettling and gory. He definitely makes the comic for me. 

Perhaps if you know the characters already you’ll get more out of it, but for me Afterlife with Archie was just another zombie comic with screaming teens running about getting chomped. There’s nothing original or memorable about it and I was very bored for most of the book. 

What’ll happen next to the bland cast as they set out into the zombie infested countryside? I don’t care to find out but someone let me know if Archie’s sweater gets with one of the girls.

Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale

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