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Afterlife With Archie #9

    Ian Jane

  • Afterlife With Archie #9

    Afterlife With Archie #9
    Released by: Archie Comics
    Released on: May 25th, 2016.
    Written by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
    Illustrated by: Francesco Francavilla
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    Afterlife With Archie returns after a pretty lengthy hiatus. For those new to the series, Jughead's beloved Hot Dog got hit by a car and killed. He took it to Sabrina to resurrect and in turn they unwittingly unleashed a zombie plague. Archie and the gang took solace at the Lodge mansion but it was all too brief. With their numbers quickly dwindling, Archie has wound up the de facto leader of the survivors. Chased by hordes of zombies, led by Jugdead and Sabrina, now the bride of Cthulu, Betty and Archie become engaged.

    This latest chapter starts out with a page that shows the differences between Archie and Reggie in terms of manners, how they act around girls and their different personality types. We catch up with Reggie, who carries on him some serious guilt about unleashing the plague… a secret he keeps to himself. We then learn how he found a quartet of horses left in a barn to die. He nursed them back to health and led them to the camp - everyone was thankful for this and everyone saw Reggie as a hero for this.

    But then we learn the truth - Reggie didn't do this, Archie and Betty did and Reggie is still very much 'on the outside looking in.' We flashback to a scene in the high school computer lab where Reggie was hanging with Archie and Jughead goofing around when Dilton read out the questions for an online quiz that answered the question 'are you a sociopath?' The results indicated that, yes, Reggie was indeed a sociopath… until the last two questions. The second last is where we learn that, yeah, for all his faults, Reggie is capable of love, we know this because he fell pretty hard for Midge Klump. Too bad she was involved with Moose. And the last question? Do you feel remorse or shame… and he does. He feels plenty of guilt over how the recent events have played out.

    It's then that Reggie confesses to Kevin how and why he thinks himself responsible for the outbreak. Midge hit him up for money, it was an emergency and she couldn't go to anyone else. When she and Reggie talks about this, Moose caught them and assumed the worst. After all, Reggie clearly had a thing for her. It escalated and then he got in his car to drive home on that fateful night… you can probably figure out what happened then, but you probably won't figure out where it goes from there and we're not going to tell you.

    Good things come to those who wait. The creative team of writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla make the level of macabre cool that this series hit seem effortless. Yes, it makes references to Archie Comics' past and it should, otherwise this series could revolve around any set of characters, it wouldn't matter. But what these guys are doing here, it's great. It's creative and bizarre and unique and original while at the same time quite familiar. The popularity of The Walking Dead has made zombie comics very much the flavor of a surprisingly long month but Afterlife stands out thanks to the very fact that it is set in an alternate 'Archieverse' and because the characters that populate this world are already well known to us. It's kind of like the Marvel Zombies concept except that it's considerably cleverer and a lot more mature (no, really, this is not an Archie comics for the little ones).

    Aguirre-Sacasa does a great job of elaborating on Reggie's plight in this issue. It definitely humanizes a character who has been traditionally regarded as a bit of an asshole over the years. The sequence where he ponders the results of the 'are you a sociopath' quiz are actually fairly deep and out of this he manages to bring some interesting ideas into the storyline. It works really well. So too does Francavilla's shadowy artwork. The thick lines employed and the heavy earth tones used to color it all create a series that is rich in atmosphere and creepy visuals.

    This issue also includes a four page preview of The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, which is just as good as Afterlife With Archie is and which is clearly a series that anyone with any taste in horror comics should be reading. Things seem to be back on track with both series as of late, so hopefully the wait between issues will be reduced. All in all, great stuff and a pretty good jumping on point for new readers.

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