Sunday, October 19, 2014


#13: The Mad Doctor

Welcome, one and all, to the 2014 edition of The MonsterGrrls’ Thir13en For Halloween!  We took a year off, but as they say, we’re back from the grave and ready to party, and this year we’re kicking off the Ghost Wonderful Time Of The Year with a bit of total weirdness: the new comic series Afterlife With Archie.

Night Of The Living JugDead
While some may argue that the world really doesn’t need an Archie zombie comic, or that Archie Comics is jumping on an already enormously crowded bandwagon, there is no denying that ALWA is giving Archie Comics a much-needed zap of creative energy.  Archie has been a teenager for some 73 years now, and while Archie has played with horror before (such as the introduction of teen witch Sabrina Spellman, who serves as a catalyst for ALWA, and Filmation’s Saturday morning Archie spinoff Sabrina and The Groovie Goolies), ALWA is Archie’s first foray into full-blown horror.  Inspired by an alternate cover for the Life With Archie magazine edition by regular ALWA artist Francesco Francavilla, the series has gone on to serve as both a fascinating addition to the Archie Comics universe and a straightforward horror comic in the classic mold.

It begins
ALWA begins with the death of Jughead Jones’ beloved Hot Dog, run over by a car.  Jughead goes to Sabrina, begging her to use her powers to save Hot Dog, but Sabrina’s aunts tell him that it is already too late.  Determined to help her friend, Sabrina goes against her aunts’ wishes and uses the Necronomicon to bring back Hot Dog, who comes back from the grave… and comes back wrong.  Hot Dog’s reanimation sets in motion events which spell doom for the town of Riverdale and end with most of the main Archie characters trapped in the Lodge mansion, seeking escape from the zombies who have spread their contagion through Riverdale.

The Doom That Came To Riverdale
Not completely bloodless horror
While there will be some inevitable comparisons to Image Comics’ The Walking Dead (which can now be considered a modern classic and a template for zombie comics), ALWA does a good job of fitting well-known Archie characters into a zombie apocalypse setting.  Eschewing the usual hallmark Archie-cartoon style for a realistic style with a slight E.C. comics feel, ALWA presents a serious and straightforward version of the Archie universe, evoking as much horror as possible from its characters and situation.  At the same time, the series seems to have set its own limits on gore: there is blood and graphic content, but artist Francavilla and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa seem to instinctively understand that what is not shown and evoked in the imagination can be just as horrific without completely going over the top.

Things to come
The first four issues have sold out, but ALWA’s initial five issues have been collected into a handsome paperback edition that collects issues 1-5, as well as a showcase of all alternate covers including the Life With Archie #23 cover that began the horror.  It can be found here. If you’re looking for some good horror comics, or want to get started, Archie has provided both a familiar group of characters and the beginning of an excellent horror saga.  Plus, ALWA has spawned a just-released sister series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, also headed by Sacasa.  Though we in the Monster Shop are quite selective in our zombie viewing, we can say with certainty that ALWA is shaping up to be a fun ride.

Join us tomorrow for our next installment of The MonsterGrrls’ Thir13en For Halloween, and come see what’s on the slab…