The sisters are practical, their niece all empathy; she knows how she'd feel were her cat, Salem, to be taken from her. Sabrina visits Jughead and does something very rash indeed ...
And that's the starting point for possibly the most unusual comic from Riverdale since Archie Meets the Punisher. This isn't Archie with a few spooky jokes and dress-up ghouls, it's a proper horror comic with moody artwork and characters going to some very dark places, figuratively and literally. By the end of the book one character has admitted to killing Hot Dog, a second has been exiled and two others are full-on zombies. Even Archie's love rivals Betty and Veronica are shaded that much darker.
|Don't they realise they're dealing with Pureheart the Powerful?|
This series was inspired by an alternate cover Francovilla produced for Life With Archie #23 and it's evident the artist loves Archie as much as he loves horror stories. The characters are off-model only to the extent that they're that little bit more realistic, there's no mistaking who the leads are. Because he colours his art, Francovilla can ensure every panel has the moody tones that evoke what he's trying to say; I especially like that blood is represented by a dark orange that also works as Archie's distinctive hair hue.
|Always hungry, that Jughead Jones|
Jack Morelli's letter art is perfect. I'm not usually a fan of upper and lower case lettering in balloons but here it works, lending a tentativeness to the dialogue that suits the situations. Captions get the more usual all-upper case treatment, spot-on for assertive scene setting and narration.
The thought and care with which this comic has been put together extends to the cover stock, which is rougher, grainier than the norm, complementing the story being told. Add in interesting backmatter ('Afterthoughts with Archie' and 'Afterwords with Archie') and excellent package design from Joe Morciglio and you have a comic that looks and feels as good as it reads. And it's just $2.99, with 22 pages of story and art before the bonus material kicks in.
If future issues maintain this standard, and I expect they will, the collected Afterlife With Archie will be a classic Hallowe'en read. For now, it's a spooky serial to savour.