Zombos Says: Very Good
An accident forces Jughead to resort to witchcraftery, which leads to another bad course of action with dire consequences, which leads to an even worse outcome shaping up to make Riverdale High's Halloween dance really scary with hot-blooded, dead-cold, action the teenagers didn't plan on. This is a more mature Archie's Weird Mysteries for zombie fans. Finally, the undying feud between Betty and Veronica over Archiekins' affection has been given a new direction: concern over who will stay alive with Archie as he takes charge of their safety.
Franceso Francavilla captures the simple, energetic humor of the before Afterlife with Archie comics, sedates it with dark scenes and mature renderings of the gang, and let's the Autumn colors palette do its work across the panels. The intense colors saturate scenes with dramatic flair, fortifying the less detailed features of Francavilla's pencils. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa provides enough setup and chomping in Book One: Escape from Riverdale to make it a good sell for reading the upcoming Book Two.
One bite leads to another, in de rigueur zombie apocalypse fashion, and not even Pop Tate's Diner is safe from the growing horde of deadbeats looking for more than a burger and a malt shake. Situating Riverdale back in its original locale of Massachusetts, a good-intentioned spell goes awry, sparking the supernaturally-charged undead. Is it any surprise, then, that come this October, even Sabrina will be returning to the Archie Comics fold with her own series. One, I'm sure, will be as dark and brooding and dire.
Retreating to the safety of Veronica's stately mansion, her dad takes charge. Zombie fans know what happens when people take charge in zombie movies; a change of plans is soon needed and Archie rises to the occasion. Aguirre-Sacasa adds flashbacks at important moments of conflict: Archie seeing his dog Vegas for the first time contrasted against the last time he sees Vegas; Smithers the butler blended into the background all his life contrasted against Smithers taking the foreground. Each flashback instills maturity and emotion into characters we never expected to see these qualities in. Then, of course, the contagion continues spreading, people get eaten (although the artwork isn't as gory as that sounds), plans are made and hastily remade, and even Reggie Mantle becomes more than Archie's rival for Veronica's affections. Other bumpy relationships do their best to continue through the mayhem, and that's one constant in every zombie scenario: while death clings close at every turn, teens will still be teens and argue or take a refreshing dip in the pool while the hungry undead gather all around.
It's a tough job to take the Archie Andrews universe to a more horrific place given how light-hearted the original series is, but I'm sensing an iZombie vibe here that works well for us even if it may be hell on Archie and his pals.