Afterlife With Archie #5 (Comics Review)

Afterlife With Archie is a title that seems to be plagued with inexplicable breaks between issues. The first two were on time, but all the issues since have been at least one month late. And it gets really annoying when a new title is constantly late like this. The only saving grace in all this is that the title is so high quality in all respects and that takes away some of the sting of it. In the last four issues we’ve seen a constant build-up of tension and drama in the series and now it is time for this first arc on this amazing zombie-apocalypse comic to come to an end and we get yet another awesome issue.

Afterlife With Archie #5 steps away from the usual approach of the previous issues and is this time narrated by none other than Smithers, valet to the Lodges. In many ways, this issue is his “origin” story as we see how he came to be in the service of the Lodges and what kind of a connection he has to Hiram and Veronica. Through him, we also get some interesting commentary on lots of different characters, and it works really well. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s writing is as good as it has ever been and the same goes for Francesco Francavilla’s art too.

Afterlife With Archie 05I wasn’t really expecting RAS to use the approach he did here, to narrate the story from the point of view of Smithers. As the zombie apocalypse builds up in Riverdale and the Lodge Mansion is surrounded on all sides by the hungry undead, the loyal butler to the Lodges is seemingly everywhere, making sure that all his charges are well taken care of and that when discussions are being held as to what to do next, the saner voices prevail. In this one issue, RAS makes Smithers so likable that I wonder why I never liked the character before. I’d say that I just wasn’t interested in the character as much before and that this issue has given me a whole new perspective.

The place that Smithers has in the Lodge Mansion and the Lodge family is the same as that of Alfred Pennyworth in the Wayne Mansion and the Bat-family. It is a great way to provide the reader some commentary on what is going on and even give a whole new spin to all these characters here. But the best part has to be all the backstory, which is very touching and serves to place him squarely in the lives of Hiram and Veronica Lodge, showing how he has a deeper connection to them than is apparent on the surface. I loved that.

And in addition to all that, we get to see some scenes from the points of view of Reggie and Kevin Keller, Veronica and Betty, Archie and Hiram. Each scene adds to the overall story and the despair and desperation that are taking root in everyone. Things are getting worse for everybody since some of the stalwarts of Riverdale have already fallen: Archie and Betty’s parents, Jughead and Ethel, Moose and Midge, and more. Each “death” hits really close to home, and while deaths take a bit of a backseat in this issue, the previous deaths still cast a pall over the proceedings.

In all of this, one of the best moments is when Archie finally becomes the hero of the story that bears his name. He has gone from being the shy and somewhat introvert protagonist to being a reluctant hero and the committed to the course before him. Of all the guys left, he is the only one of the main cast who we can really trust to lead the rest, since he sees beyond he immediate needs. Hopefully with the next arc we’ll see this continue.

As ever, Francesco Francavilla’s artwork is dark and broody and utterly riveting. His zombies are awesome and so are his characters, all of whom are drawn with a soft, careful hand that takes the time to get all the details right. While I’m really missing the cheeriness of the regular Archie comics, I’m still in love with the horror and supernatural vibe of this comic. And that is all on Francavilla. His artwork remains one of the best things about this series, make no mistake.

Rating: 9.5/10

More Afterlife With Archie: #1, #2, #3, #4.

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Posted on May 17, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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