Wednesday, October 16, 2013
MONSTER COMICS WORLD: ARCHIE'S NEW, DEAD LIFE
Is this how the end of the world begins? If so, I'm mighty impressed!
I think we just might have a winner here. Making noise from an unlikely corner of the comic book industry, Archie Comics is in full tilt at an apparent attempt to re-invent themselves with the re-introduction of their Red Circle imprint superhero line (THE NEW CRUSADERS, THE FOX, THE SHIELD).
Now comes the news that the first issue of their first serious foray into a horror title, AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE, has sold out. Your read that right, folks. An Archie comic books sells out!
The story starts off with the usually affable Jughead Jones bringing his dead dog who has been run over by a car to Sabrina's house with the intent of having Sabrina (you know she's a witch, don't you?) bring him back to life with a spell. Sabrina says she can't because Hot Dog is already dead and the spell won't work right. However, she sees how bad Jughead is traumatized by the event, catches up with him and tries the spell anyway. For her indiscretion, Sabrina is cast down to the netherworld by her sister witches.
The next day, Hot Dog, who has been revived by the spell, begins acting strangely, aggressively. In a snarling fit, he bites his master.
Cut to the Riverdale High School Halloween party. The guys are asking about Jug, who hasn't shown up yet. They suddenly see him approaching and marvel at his zombie outfit -- but Jughead really is a zombie! On his way towards the group, he attacks Mr. Weatherbee who is chaperoning (!) the kids along with Miss Grundy. Jughead then approaches the party, where all Hell is likely to break loose . . . in the second issue, that is.
Frankly, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how well this story (deftly written by Robert Aquirre-Sacasa) plays out. The whole tone of the book is full of an uneasy foreboding and is greatly assisted by the very capable art of Francesco Francavilla, whose work is visually dark, mysterious and full of shadows.
I found the creeps settling in when I realized that all the fear and carnage perpetrated on these pages was a kind of deliberate perversion of the once-wholesome Archie gang. Ironically, the founder of Archie Comics was responsible for the untimely demise of horror comics in the 1950's with his leadership in getting the Comics Code Authority pushed through the political pipeline. Now, they are a willing participant in horror comics publishing. But, perhaps the most unsettling thing of all, is that the "normal" little town of Riverdale has suddenly been invaded by something blasphemous and evil that will undoubtedly leave a taint on it forever. And if AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE continues on in this fashion, that's a good thing!
Here is the press release announcing the sell out of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #1, from the Red Circle website:
Afterlife with Archie Issue One Sells Out
NEW YORK – October 9, 2013 - Archie Comics is proud to announce the selling out of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #1, the debut issue of the ongoing horror series by Harvey award-winning writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Stephen King’s The Stand) and Eisner award-winning artist Francesco Francavilla (Guardians of the Galaxy). The most talked about launch of the year, Afterlife with Archie explores what would happen if the zombie apocalypse began in Archie’s hometown of Riverdale and the results are horrifying.
The issue has received widespread coverage from THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, DEADLINE, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, TODAY, NEW YORK TIMES, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, HUFFINGTON POST, ABC NEWS, MSN, LA TIMES, USA TODAY, COMPLEX MAGAZINE, MTV, BUZZFEED, YAHOO NEWS, FANGORIA MAGAZINE, BLOODY DISGUSTING, COMIC BOOK RESOURCES, COMICS ALLIANCE, COMIC VINE, KOTAKU, NEWSARAMA, BLEEDING COOL, FEARNET, and many more.
Afterlife with Archie owes this victory to its loyal fans, the supportive retailers who jumped on board, plus the deadly combination of the creative team Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla for making this a tremendous success."
Working with Roberto and Francesco on Afterlife has been an incredible experience,” said Archie Comics Publisher/co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “Our expectations at Archie are always extremely high but the work they’ve done in bringing Afterlife with Archie alive has exceeded them. Thank you to all the retailers and fans for supporting Archie’s first ever direct market only comic book.”
Aguirre-Sacasa is also scripting the highly publicized live-action Archie feature film, previously announced in DEADLINE. Francavilla won an Eisner last year for best cover artist in part for his work on Archie Meets KISS, which lead to the creation of AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE.