As a Riverdale High dropout, I have to admit that I am not intimately involved in the adventures of Archie Andrews and company any too frequently nowadays, but that has not prevented me from participating in “Afterlife With Archie” #4 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla. As a matter of fact, I am not only reading it, I’m entertained by it. I secured all four issues and dove right in, reading as many issues of this book in a span of two days as I have any other title over a span of weeks or months.
“Afterlife With Archie” #4, containing the fourth chapter of Aguirre-Sacasa’s exploration of a zombiefied Archieverse, is titled “Archibald Rex,” wherein the hero returns to his house to check on his parents. What he finds is not at all good, as the resurrected Hot Dog corners him before Archie can even check on his folks. Aguirre-Sacasa focuses most of this issue on Archie’s attempt to reunite with his parents, but he also uses three pages to check in with at the Blossom household, providing readers with a slight reprieve from the otherwise full-fledged action of this issue. As shown in the previous issues, Hot Dog is just one of the many afflicted residents of Riverdale and Archie has to confront more than a couple of them.
Aguirre-Sacasa couldn’t ask for a better collaborator for this story than Francesco Francavilla, who is capable of mixing the eerie undead with the historically more animated and cartoonish traditional appearances for the residents of Riverdale. In addition to drawing figures that shamble or stand guard against the attack, Francavilla continues to color his own work. It amazes what that guy can do with a range of colors no deeper than the 8-count of Crayolas. A true modern master, Francavilla doesn’t dabble with textures or patterns to save work, choosing instead to use the boldest assortment of colors possible to fill his artwork with raw, unfiltered emotion. In “Afterlife With Archie” #4, flashbacks to happier, sunnier times are colored in yellow and light orange, the moments of conflict are red and the fearful uncertainty of pending conflict or simply concern of contagion are depicted in purple. Franacavilla’s storytelling and panel composition is clean and strong enough that Jack Morelli’s letters are able to do their job quite nicely and merge even more nicely with the images.
While I took a massive dose of “Afterlife With Archie” in a relatively short time, I found myself closing the cover to #4 wanting a little bit more. Sure, more than twenty-two pages could get a little oppressive, but Aguirre-Sacasa, Francavilla and Morelli have constructed a fun story that crosses genres and transforms a cast of characters. While readers can get the whole gist from “Afterlife With Archie” #4, the run isn’t so deep that it cannot be chased down and enjoyed in a short span. Those with more experience in Riverdale will have a more fulfilling read, but this is not an impenetrable issue. I have to hand it to those who recommended the series to me: they were right.