Halloween Scene Trade Post: Afterlife With Archie

afterlife with archie Afterlife With Archie: Escape from Riverdale (Archie Comics)
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, drawn by Fracesco Francavilla
Collects Afterlife With Archie #1-5

Between work and the impending move, I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and read comics. However, I inexplicably requested a pile of books from the library which came in much quicker than expected. One of them is Afterlife With Archie: Escape From Riverdale, a book I’d heard a lot of interesting things about. So, with the little bit of free time I had, I banged this one out and had a great time doing it.

There’s basically two ways to dig into this book. The first is, how does it work as a horror/zombie story? And the second is, how does it work as an Archie story? I think the answer to both questions is “pretty great,” though I think the main reason it got so much love is because of the latter instead of the former. That might sound like a dig, but it’s not. Actually, it’s the opposite because I think that it took a lot of guts for Archie Comics to let Aguirre-Sacasa take their characters into such adult territory. This isn’t the cartoony version of Archie you might have seen at the grocery store, but one who knows all the ins and outs of Veronica’s house because he wanted to make out with her. There’s also the matter of zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.

So, the story kicks off after Sabrina helps bring Jughead’s dog back to life with some spell-casting. That doens’t work out quite so well, leading Hot Dog to bite his owner, turn him into a zombie and kick off a nasty bit of carnage. Archie and the gang all happen to be at a costume dance at school when this goes down and the rest of the book finds them trying to figure out ways to survive as the world comes crumbling down around them.

I’ve read and seen a lot of zombie material in my time and I was impressed with where this particular story went. I liked the simple origins of the undead in the book and the idea of the looming threat hitting such a small town. Aguirre-Sacasa also throws in some nice touches involving flashbacks and quick asides to other characters that I thought added a lot to this story. It could have easily focused just on Archie, Betty and Veronica, but instead this feels like a whole world of characters to worry about.

And worry I did, even though I’m far from familiar with these characters. Sure, I read a few Archie Digests here and there as a kid and know about some of the newer characters like Kevin Keller from reading the internet, but Aguirre-Sacasa did a great job of getting me to care about these characters while also poking fun at a few of the tropes like the never-ending battle within Archie when it comes to choosing between Betty and Veronica.

afterlife with archie old schoolAll of the story elements work really well together, but one of the main reasons this book succeeds so well is that Francavilla doesn’t hold back when it comes to bringing the scary tones. The zombies look awesomely gross and, while you don’t necessarily see the full gory details every time, there’s plenty there to squirm over. His use of blacks, oranges, shadows and darkness makes this a moody, creepy work that fits right in with the other book of his I read this year, Batman: The Black Mirror (speaking of which, Mr. Lodge and Jim Gordon look like twins, right?).

All of these pieces come together to tell a really fun, sometimes scary story that would work without these characters, but is a lot more fun with them involved. I will also say that, seeing a company like Archie go down these different avenues, makes me want to dig a little deeper into the other books they’re putting out. Afterlife With Archie continued on and there’s also a Sabrina series I want to check out.

Youthful Marvel Heroes Trade Post: Secret Warriors Vol. 1 & Young Avengers Presents

SECRET WARRIORS VOLUME 1 (Marvel) Written by Brian Bendis and Jonathan Hickman, drawn by Stefano Caselli Collects Dark Reign: New Nation excerpts, Secret Warriors #1-6 One of my all-time favorite comic book characters is Nick Fury. I love the old Steranko stuff and pretty much anything else the guy appears in. Unfortunately after the sub-par Secret War miniseries, my boy disappeared for a while, but eventually popped back up in Secret Invasion and got his own book again during Dark Reign. I think I’ve gone on record as saying that I haven’t been a big fan of the huge sweeping events that have plagued Marvel from Civil War on. It’s so hard to pick up a trade and try to figure out when the hell it fits in with all that nonsense. It takes away the classicness of some really good stories and lead to even more bad stories. Lucky, Secret Warriors was a damn good book, though I’m not a big fan of the basis behind the book itself: Hydra has been running S.H.I.E.L.D. from the beginning. I’m getting sick of stories that pull that “Everything you knew was a lie!” comics. But, that’s not enough to keep me away, hell they did something similar to this story back in Nick Fury Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. Fury’s in this bad boy being all cool and secretive, training a group of young super powered people related to familiar heroes and villains, but also putting an army together made up of former S.H.I.E.L.D. guys, so you get a great mix of storylines from the missions to the relationships of the characters. I read this book pretty regularly when I was still at Wizard and even a little while after, but left off at some point. I always felt like this book should have been more important in the eyes of the greater Marvel Universe, but as far as I know it never turned out to be that. Ah well, I still dug the story and Caselli’s art is absolutely amazing. It’s stylized and a little cartoony, but still has an edge that integrates the multiple elements I mentioned. I’d check out anything this guy draws. For now, I’m keeping this book in my collection because it’s Fury and I dig the story, but I might get rid of it if the later volumes turn out to suck. We shall see. YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS (Marvel) Written by Ed Brubaker, Brian Reed, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Paul Cornell, Kevin Grevioux and Matt Fraction. Drawn by Paco Medina, Harvey Talibao, Alina Urusov, Mark Brooks, Mitch Breitweiser and Alan Davis. Collects Young Avengers Presents: Patriot, Hulkling, Wiccan & Speed, Vision, Stature and Hawkeye. Another team of young superheroes related in some way to other heroes, Young Avengers was fun when it came out. And by that I mean that original writer Alan Heinberg did a great job, but the book was SO late that it got really frustrating. Anyway, instead of getting forgotten or only featured in their own book like The Runaways were the Young Avengers were integrated into the rest of the Marvel U, including Civil War and the following events. Some even chose different sides of the Registration Act to support, effectively breaking the team up. this series of one shots came out to bring the focus back to the teen characters with a murderer’s row of Marvel’s hottest writers. Overall? The book suffers from the “when does this take place?” syndrome I mentioned above. It’s cool that they got Captain America writer Brubaker to write the Patriot story and Ms. Marvel‘s Brian Reed to write a story featuring the time displaced Captain Marvel meeting his supposed son Hulkling. I believe it turned out that Captain Marvel was a Skrull which kid of cuts the legs out from the story, but at least Hulkling’s emotions ring true. Aside from that, the book adds a few nice bits to the characters, but I’ve got to say that they would have been better off in an ongoing or a series of minis. Instead, this feels too little too late. I believe Heinberg’s coming back to the team which should be interesting. I’ll come back for that (after finishing this trade, I went back and re-read the original 12 issues which were pretty great still, I love how it seemed like they were related to some Avengers, but were actually related to others).