Review: Afterlife with Archie #5

AWA_5-0Archie and his friends find themselves barricaded inside Lodge Manor with every zombie ambling towards them. Tensions are high, relationships are tested and longtime character meet their final fate in the conclusion to the “Escape from Riverdale” saga. Archie must gather all his friends – survivors of a zombie rampage – and escape their hometown of Riverdale. But, is he capable of leading the escape?

Afterlife with Archie #5 shows exactly what makes this series so good, mixing in dread, horror, some scares, and the very human interactions and reactions to a world crumbling around them. This issue especially focuses on Veronica’s butler, Smithers, as we’re taken through his experiences with the Lodge family. That focus creates some amazing moments, as Smithers acts as more of a father and protector than Veronica’s own father Hiram. It also builds up tension, where the family’s employee must decide as to whether or not do as he’s told, or what he thinks is right and the most likely thing that’ll allow all of them to survive.

The issue also is peppered with small interactions that are amazing. There’s Nancy, Ginger, and Chuck’s discussion. Then there’s Reggie and Kevin Keller, where we learn Reggie is a bit homophobic. There’s the strange relationship of Cheryl and Jason, and then finally Betty, Archie, and Veronica. All of these interactions and moments create such depth for each character, and often times of heartbreak. That attention to detail, and additions that enhance the story as a whole is courtesy of writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa who has elevated this series from a one-note punchline, to a comic that’s about more than zombies, but teenagers and adults dealing with a decaying world. Aguirre-Sacasa seems to know, and shows in his writing, that the best zombie tales are about more than the shuffling undead.

All of this is brought to (un)life courtesy of Francesco Francavilla whose art is always amazing. It’s a style made for horror, but as shown in this issue, is more than amazing for quiet human moments. It’s a perfect combination of writer, artist, and subject. I can’t imagine anyone else even attempting this, or even coming close to the excellence we see on the page. But, the brilliance of the art is more than just what’s drawn, it’s the use of color which adds to the mood. A limited palette on each page, and in the series as a whole has created a look that’s damn near perfect.

Afterlife with Archie continues to impress, quickly vaulting to being one of my favorite comics on the market right now. It’s the perfect balance of horror and humanity, and everyone should do themselves a favor and check it out.

Story: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Art: Francesco Francavilla
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Archie Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review