|Variant cover by Tim Seeley for Afterlife With Archie, issue two|
Two issues in and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has yet to put a foot wrong in Afterlife With Archie.
Zombie Jughead has rolled up at the Riverdale High Halloween dance and the apocalypse has begun in earnest.
|Zombie Jughead from issue one of Afterlife With Archie|
Complemented by Francesco Francavilla's evocative artwork, Aguirre-Sacasa paints us a picture of a darker Riverdale than we are used to yet still evoking the touchstones of its current, modern incarnation - it remains a hotbed of simmering same-sex relationship anxieties, barely suppressed incest and a volcano of reality television-style bitchiness and gossip. That's Archie comics, right?
I'm not a regular visitor to Riverdale so a number of the supporting characters were new to me, but the script fleshes them out with minimalist ease... before letting the flesh-eating zombies loose on them.
As I said in my review of the first issue "this zombies-in-Riverdale horrorfest wouldn't work as well without the context brought to the story by decades of Happy Days-esque escapades from Archie Andrews and his chums."
But outside of that key ingredient, the pacing of the piece is perfect, interweaving character development (Aguirre-Sacasa has struck an incredible balance between the old school Archie caricatures and 'realistic' modern portrayals) with slowly escalating horror as the number of the zombies grows exponentially.
On the strength of these first two issues, Afterlife With Archie is destined to become a true classic of both the comic book medium and the zombie genre. It's certainly - beyond a shadow of a doubt - my favourite new title of the year.