Afterlife with Archie

Afterlife with Archie 10 (October 2016)

Afterlife with Archie #10Someday, someone will do tragedy in mainstream comics better than Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, but if this latest issue of Afterlife with Archie is any indication, it’s not going to be any time soon. This issue–a done-in-one prologue to the series–features the Afterlife version of Josie and the Pussycats. Once again, Aguirre-Sacasa mixes pop culture sensibility, horror and so much good characterization.

It might be impossible to talk about the issue without spoiling anything, but I’m going to try. Aguirre-Sacasa structures it as an interview, set in modernity, with Josie telling a reporter all about the Pussycats’ history. There’s a lot of social history, some hints at ties to the overarching Afterlife story and some singing and dancing. There’s also friendship and tragedy.

There’s also a lot of unbelievably good Francesco Francavilla artwork. How Aguirre-Sacasa comes up with the content to give Francavilla the opportunity to do these panels–whether it’s a rock concert, a scene set in a small town in the South or an airplane ride–not to mention the interview panels themselves–it’s awesome, over and over again. Francavilla does the horror, he does the characters, he does the relationships between the two. There’s so much tragedy, the issue practically bleeds it.

This comic book, out of nowhere, isn’t just consistently excellent, it’s consistently exquisite. Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla put Afterlife in a league all its own.

CREDITS

Betty: R.I.P., Chapter Five: Interview/Interlude with the Pussycats; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Afterlife with Archie 9 (July 2016)

Afterlife with Archie #9This issue of Afterlife has a couple surprises. It’s mostly just a really tightly told tale from Aguirre-Sacasa, with some great art from Francavilla, but there’s a strange development at the end. Aguirre-Sacasa isn’t just doing Archie and zombies, he’s doing a horror comic. While zombies are part of it, the human cost is a bigger part.

This issue centers around Reggie, who I barely remember from my limited Archie exposure. He’s the dark Archie (who really quickly gives him up for dead and replaces him with Kevin, which just seems un-Archie) and Aguirre-Sacasa structures the comic around Reggie’s revelations to Kevin, his first person narration, and his deep fear of being a sociopath.

When the Bride of Cthulhu shows up to convince him to join the dark side… well, it’s unclear why Reggie’s choice is a surprise, but Aguirre-Sacasa makes it one. Even though Reggie shouldn’t be sympathetic, Aguirre-Sacasa writes him like a scared, confused kid. It results in a sympathetic character.

It’s an unpleasant issue. There’s no gore, there’s a lot of self-depreciation, there’s a lot of awkwardness. Aguirre-Sacasa utilizes a lot of flashbacks to tell Reggie’s story and, much like how the character’s mind operates, a lot of the book takes place in the imagination.

It’s not an exciting issue, however, not narratively speaking. It’s excellent work from Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla though. Assured, deliberate, freaky.

CREDITS

Betty: R.I.P., Chapter Four: The Trouble with Reggie; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist and colorist, Francesco Francavilla; letterer, Jack Morelli; editors, Victor Gorelick and Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

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