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“AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE” #3 (Comic Review)

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If you’re of the mind that AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE is akin to those Double Digests haunting supermarket checkout aisles across the nation, let’s just nip that thought in the bud. This is not your daddy’s Archie comic. Sure, we have good old Riverdale High, ginger-coiffed Archie Andrews and his gal pals Veronica and Betty, Pop Tate, Moose, Jughead…

Ah yes, Jughead.

Burger eating, crown-wearing doofus Forsythe P. Jones III (aka Jughead ) does indeed feature in this weird world version of the ARCHIE universe, but in issue #1 he quickly falls prey to the afterlife curse of the title. See, some sort of nasty contamination has infected the sleepy town of Riverdale and Jughead is one of its first victims. After dying and returning to shambling life, the second issue of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE saw Juggie crash the prom and eat his paramour Big Ethel in front of the shocked student body. Almost immediately, Midge returned and chased the gang out of the gym and into the walking dead-littered streets all the way to Veronica’s mansion, where her dad, the millionaire Mr. Lodge boards them up in his fortress in hopes that the ghoulish plague outside will pass.

And this is where AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #3 picks up.

In its first few pages, we are treated to a graphic dream sequence in which the widowed Mr. Lodge’s long dead wife, Hermione, returns from the mist-drenched grave and screams for his flesh. After that alarming passage, it just gets more nightmarish. It seeems Midge was scratched by the undead Jughead and now she and Moose hole up in one of the Lodge bedrooms, terrified that she will turn. Meanwhile, Archie sneaks out of the mansion to search for his mom and dad while Nancy and Ginger —closet lesbian lovers, here—burn down Pop Tate’s diner after the lovable cook-turned-corpse tried to put them on the menu.

In the midst of all this blood-soaked madness, Veronica and the gang try to get their mind off of the insanity by having an impromptu pool party with disastrous results…

Penned by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who also wrote the CARRIE remake) and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE achieves the kind of horror found in a vintage EC comic, perverting the four-color Archie  universe we’ve come to love and turning it into the ultimate dead (and undead) teenager movie. Tense, scary, heartfelt, evocative, beautifully drawn and gory, it cries out for a film adaptation.

It might strike some readers as ludicrous, that an Archie comic book be taken this seriously as a horror story but we assure you, it is most assuredly not for children. After the lunacy of the ARCHIE MEETS KISS series last year, AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE, while just as irreverent, plays its dark drama absolutely straight.

It’s honestly one of the best horror comics this writer has read in a very long time. Bring on round 4…

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About the author
Chris Alexander
Author, film critic, teacher, musician and filmmaker (not to mention failed boxer) Chris Alexander is the editor-in-chief of FANGORIA Magazine. He got his first professional break as the “Schizoid Cinephile” in the pages of Canadian horror film magazine RUE MORGUE before making the move to FANGO in 2007. His words have appeared in The Toronto Star, Metro News, Wired, Montage, The Dark Side, Tenebre and many other notable publications and he appears regularly on international television and radio.
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