Review: Afterlife With Archie: Escape from Riverdale

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When Jughead’s beloved pet Hot Dog is killed in a hit and run, Jughead turns to the only person he knows who can help bring back his canine companion—Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Using dark, forbidden magic, Sabrina is successful and Hot Dog returns to the land of the living. But he’s not the same… and soon, the darkness he brings back with him from beyond the grave begins to spread, forcing Archie and the gang to try to escape Riverdale!

archieAfterlife With Archie’s first arc (issues #1-5) has been collected into one convenient trade paperback called Afterlife With Archie: Escape From Riverdale. The story is from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with art by Francesco Francavilla. Jack Morelli rounds out the team with lettering. This is the series everyone has been telling you about, but is the first volume worth your time?

Dark times are falling over Riverdale. It all begins when Jughead’s faithful canine companion Hot Dog is killed in a hit and run accident. Jughead, utterly grief-stricken, turns to the one person he thinks can help him- Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The young witch is reluctant to help, but Jughead’s grief is just too convincing. Using some very dark magic, Sabrina brings Hot Dog back to life. It works. Maybe too well. Hot Dog isn’t the same dog he once was. He attacks his owner and gives Jughead a rather nasty bite. That’s when things go from bad to worse. Jughead becomes sick…and well, you can pretty well imagine what happens next. Has Jughead really brought about the zombie apocalypse that will destroy Riverdale? Can Archie keep the rest of his friends and family safe? Will anything ever be the same again?

Aguirre-Sacasa writes a great story. Archie has always had a certain reputation among some comic readers, but Afterlife takes all of those thoughts (both fair and unfair) and completely turns them on their heads. This isn’t your parents’ Archie comics. This is a dark and gritty Archie that destroys most everything you thought you knew. You can’t throw zombies into a story without it being a little violent, dark, and more grown-up. It’s a thrilling story even without those gimmicky things I’m selling you. Francavilla is the perfect artist for the series as well. Francavilla is an artist that was made for horror, and Afterlife With Archie offers up some unique opportunities that you can just tell the artist relishes. The written word and art rarely work together in comics the way Afterlife With Archie works by and large.

We’ve reviewed most of the single issues for this series, and there’s a good chance you’ve read them. The supplemental material for this collection consists of cover and variant cover galleries as well as sketches and artwork. If you’re a fan of that type of thing, you’ll certainly want to grab that up. If you’ve been trade waiting, then you’ll absolutely love what’s presented.

Bottom Line: Afterlife With Archie was a surprise smash-hit series, and if you haven’t read it yet you’re doing yourself a disservice. This is definitely worth checking out, and now you can get it all in one shot. 5/5

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