I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I loved Archie comics when I was a kid. My mother read them as a child in the fifties and those old comics found their way to my grandfather’s cabin in the Adirondacks which is where I first read them. They contained some funny and clever stories and I never worried about how authentically they portrayed high school because they were already twenty years old when I started reading them. To this day I haven’t read a current Archie comic.
I know that Archie Comics (like all comic book publishers, I suppose) have to keep their characters and storylines current or risk becoming irrelevant. I read someone that recently Archie met a gay character, or a character with AIDS, or something like that, a move which keeps it current while generating plenty of good publicity.
This new move, however, seems a little odd, although not unexpected; zombies invade the town of Riverdale in the hopes that those who watch Walking Dead will pick up “Afterlife With Archie” and the series will find a new audience of people that were much more likely to be geeked out on Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison than Dan DeCarlo. I have not read any of them; actually, I’ve only seen the cover. But this new series raises some interesting questions and its much more fun to speculate about them than know the truth:
1. How did Archie, Jughead, and the rest of the crew die?
I’ve only seen the zombie Jughead, but I’m guessing the rest of the gang will meet a similar fate in subsequent issues. From the covers they look like they died as teenagers. So what happened? Did a zombie outbreak plague Riverdale? Did Reggie finally kill Archie to eliminate his rivalry with Veronica? Has he now come back to exact his revenge? (the ever hungry Jughead presumably was killed to prevent food shortages in the zombie apocalypse.)
2. Why is the comic rendered in such a realistic style?
Everyone has to admit that it would be way cooler to have this take place in the tried and true classic cartoony Archie style, thereby making the violence and gore that much more startling. These comics look very detailed and realistic, and perhaps the creators failed to realize that a realistically rendered Miss Grundy or Mr. Weatherbee would be much more terrifying than any zombie. (Perhaps Miss Grundy could take the role of the Crypt Keeper and be the narrator.)
3. Will the series become an existentialist nightmare?
Why live in a world where you are stalked by zombies? What is the meaning of life now that the afterlife has been called into question? Are the characters doomed to roam the earth because of their inability to resolve their seven deadly sins (Archie: sloth, Jughead: greed, Reggie: envy, Veronica: vanity. I can’t think that Betty has any fault, so she may be the only one spared this fate.) Will the series explore the Godot-like world of Riverdale where the gang is trapped in high school year after year for the rest of their lives, with “nothing to be done?”
4. Could there by an Afterlife with Archie/Walking Dead crossover?
I am so intrigued by this idea, that I may actually buy one of these issues. Which of course is exactly what they want me to do.
Check out Afterlife with Archie.