by Roberto Aguierre-Sacasa, & Francesco Francavilla
Dear Lovecraftians: This issue of Afterlife With Archie was made just for you. It didn’t seem as though Afterlife could get any better or cater more to the horror fan, but it seems to have done just that. First they give us zombies, complete with the darker art of Francavilla, and now we’re introduced to a new part of this eerie story, with the addition (or, rather, the return) of Sabrina into the story, and several different aspects of H.P. Lovecraft tales that readers may or may not pick up on. But don’t worry… if Lovecraft isn’t your thing, this issue is still excellent.
The story is fantastic, of course. This issue goes in a different direction than the previous five issues, and it was rather unexpected, but it was interesting to read another point-of-view from the strictly-zombie stuff that’s happened so far. If readers recall, Sabrina was present in issue number one, when Jughead brought Hotdog to her for help – after that, she wasn’t really heard from again. With everything that obviously happened after that, it was kind of hard to wonder where she was, so it’s interesting that the writer chose to explain that now. In that first issue, Sabrina uses the Necronomicon, and that’s the first nod to Lovecraft. This issue is positively teeming with them, from obvious references, like the name Lovecraft and the monster, Cthulhu (in fact, the first page after the title page is a Cthulhu quote, which will really suck Lovecraft fans in right away) – and then there are lesser-known references, which may not be picked up on as Lovecraftian names at all, like a couple of other character names in this issue. This issue will really bring up a lot of questions. At first this series was “just” a zombie book, but now is it possible that there’s more of a magic connection than we thought? And since this issue is entirely about where Sabrina’s been since the first issue, we’re not really sure how the gang back in Riverdale are doing or what’s become of them.
The art also went through a bit of a change in this issue. Francavilla’s art has always been absolutely perfect for this series, but of course every issue has always been very dark – goes with the territory! This issue was lighter, but still dark at the same time, which really helped feed the feeling of “change” behind it. There are dreams and non-realities in parts of this issue, and the art really adds to that with the use of more lightness or more shadow, depending on what’s going on. It must’ve been a change for Francavilla to use a bit more color than he has in other issues! You can definitely tell that he is a Lovecraft fan as well – if it’s not proven enough by the simple tentacles in a few of the panels, there’s definitely no question when it comes to the full-on, full-page Cthulhu! Aside from that incredible piece, his artwork is absolute perfection. You can see the fear in Sabrina’s face, the sense of evil in the faces of the men in the book, and one of the best things about Francavilla’s art, his use of shadows to give readers a sense of either lightness or foreboding. Not to mention the other brief flashes of Lovecraft monsters as well!
Anyone who wasn’t sure about reading this series up until now should definitely do so, because it seems as though things are about to get even more interesting. As a fan of any type of horror, whether it’s zombies, witches, Lovecraft… or even if you’re just an Archie fan, you need to read this series. That was the case in the first five issues, and it’s even more the case now. There are so many questions now, about what will happen next, and it’s going to be difficult to wait for the next issue to find out!