I usually prefer the comics and novels I read to be fast-paced and with lots of action as well. Sure, I like having the character moments sprinkled here and there, but overall I like something that keeps moving and that keeps throwing things at me to sink my teeth into, to latch on to (if that makes sense). This is one of the reasons why I generally don’t read horror because its almost always slow-paced and I have trouble connecting. But, Vertigo’s Coffin Hill series has changed that around, and this is a series that I’m definitely enjoying, largely because its an excellent slow-burn story.
Writer Caitlin Kittredge with artists Inaki Miranda and Eva de la Cruz have created a really great setting in this series that has seen some spectacular moments in the first three issues. Month after month, this has been a series to read and I haven’t really been disappointed with it. With the new issue I was expecting more of the same, but the creative team still managed to come up with quite a few surprises and finally delivered on the identity of the big bad of the story, and gave us a tiny glimpse into the objective of this big bad.
After a two-month long wait, Afterlife With Archie returned last week with its third issue. Having debuted in the Halloween Month and received very well by fans, for me the series became one of the highlights of the year, so much so that I put it on my “Top 5 New Comics of 2013” list and the first issue made it to my “Best Comics of 2013” list. It was just that good. Mashing the zombie apocalypse with Archie and the Riverdale gang is something really amazing that writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have done, and I applaud them for it. It is quite a refreshing story in all respects.
But that’s not all of course. There’s a hint of subversion in the story and the way that the backstories of various characters are teased out in issue #3, especially with regards to Hiram Lodge, make this one of the best comics to come out this past week. But the best thing here remains the character interaction and on that note we get to see a lot of different perspective in this issue. The creative team is giving their all to make this one of the best series out right now and I’m fully on that train-ride, watching as these characters try to fight things out the best way that they know how.
For this new seasonal list of the best SFF characters I’ve read this year, my eleventh and penultimate pick is Archie and the Riverdale gang from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife With Archie, a new mini-series in the world of Archie that deals with the zombie apocalypse, and in a really good way too. The series started off in the Halloween month and it continued pretty damn strongly in November. With the third issue due imminently, I’m very excited about the continuing madcap adventures of the Riverdale gang as they all deal with the outbreak of the zombie magic-virus.
Hit the break to see why I picked these characters.
Caitlin Kittredge and Inaki Miranda’s Coffin Hill #1 set a wonderful tone for the new horror series from Vertigo when it came out in the month of horror. We got a good dose of supernatural mysteries and met some interesting characters, including the protagonist Eve Coffin. Last month, Coffin Hill #2 continued to build on that foundation and further both the story and the characters themselves so that by the end of it we had the beginnings of a really nice, multi-layered story involving characters who weren’t cardboard cut-outs but did have some depth to them.
The two creators go that extra mile with the third issue, released this past week, and it is definitely quite a fun issue. Some ten years ago something dreadful and horrific happened in the woods near the Coffin mansion, and that began a series of really gruesome events in the town that have now led to Eve returning after years of being away and history repeating itself. Sort of. The most fun part of the comic is still the interactions between the characters, and Caitlin does not disappoint in that regard. Nor does Inaki disappoint with the artwork, which is pretty damn good.
A month ago, I could never have imagined the concept of mashing Archie with zombies. I mean, that’s as far out of the norm as you can get right? Its like mixing Stargate with classical zombies. Which is why the execution has to be pitch-perfect. There can’t be any room for a drop in quality or anything. You have to be consistently good or the premise is going to just conk out like a bad engine. Which is why I approached Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife With Archie #1 with a little trepidation last month, and why I was so impressed with it. They hit the exact right notes and delivered a fantastic story.
The second issue, which launched this week, continues the story of this quite horrifying zombie apocalypse as it ravages the quiet, wholesome and good-old-fun town of Riverdale. In the first issue, we saw how one person’s mistake, a second’s longing, and a third’s compassion brought about this whole event. In the new issue, we gain a wider perspective on things as the plague spreads through Riverdale and as the heroes begin to coalesce and decide their future.
Vertigo took some (further?) forays into the horror genre last month, the month of horror, by bringing out a new series called Coffin Hill, written by Caitlin Kittredge and drawn by Inaki Miranda. With a story revolving around your heiress Eve Coffin, Kittredge created a dramatic world with all the typical horror elements, but none of the cheesiness and very little of the cliches. Her world was full of interesting characters, and interesting events, which made the first issue a great experience, not to mention Miranda’s spectacular artwork.
With the second issue, we see the world developing, and so do the characters, as more mysteries are introduced while some are answered. Where the first issue could be called a bold but hesitant step forward into the genre, the second issue is the opposite. It feels as if an experienced writer is at the helm of the series. Sure, there are a few flaws, but the second issue proves to be a much more satisfying read, which is what I wanted and what I got.
As a general rule, I don’t read zombie comics. I have extremely limited interest in the genre and it never really clicks together for me the way fiction in other genres does. But there’s always an exception to a rule right? Its inevitable since nothing is ever absolute. But, with Halloween just a few days from now, I suppose its the perfect time to be reading some horror fiction. And what better way to do that than read what is possibly the most… unexpected mash-up? Archie + Zombies? Whoa….
I used to read Archie comics as a kid. It all started when an older cousin took a novel from me and somehow lost it. In return she gave me Archie comics to read for a long while and got me absolutely hooked. I read the comics for a good long while and really fell in love with all the characters. It shouldn’t be a surprise really, then, that Archie, Betty and Jughead are my three favourite characters from the comic. So watching things go so bloody downhill for them with this issue was stunning to say the least.
Its October, so its pretty much a given that this is the month for reading horror stuff, especially in comics since the format lends itself very well to horror stories I find. Of course, that works much better if you have a bunch of comics in the same series to plow through back-to-back rather than reading one-offs, but sometimes that can work just fine. Which was the case for me this week with one of Vertigo’s latest series, launching with an (appropriately) extra-sized issue.
Coffin Hill seems to be a good comic to add to my monthly piles, and I have to say that it continues the Vertigo tradition of telling stories that are completely separate from the rest of the industry (for the most part). This is something I’ve remarked on before, and its really great to see all these new titles that Vertigo is putting out. Lots of diversity, lots of fun. No duds.
The voting process on my latest reading poll closed last night, after two weeks of intense excitement and record after record. Once again, just as with the previous two polls that I’ve run, this was a humbling experience given the tremendous response from the authors and their fans and everyone else who helped make this new poll such a success.