Tag Archives: Archie

Afterlife with Archie: Issue #8

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This graphic series never ceases to impress me. The writing and artwork are both so outstanding that I’m kind of shocked at just how great it is. It is nothing short of graphic horror at its finest.

In this episode, the survivors from Riverdale are holed up at the Bradbury Hotel in Vermont (a nod to Ray Bradbury?). Much of the installment features Archie sitting at the hotel bar, conversing with the ghost of Jughead. It is a clear allusion to The Shining. In fact, this issue is full of references to classic horror films and books, as well as to psychological novels like Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness which explore the darker realms of the human psyche.

I cannot stress enough just how good the writing is in this graphic novel. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa weaves a tale as masterfully as anyone. I literally found myself hanging on every word. But the real genius is the way the story is structured. We have the beginning, where Archie converses with the “ghost” of Jughead, which in reality is Archie creating a separate entity out of his own psyche with which to talk out his internal conflicts and fears. The story then transitions into reality, where Archie is guided by his mother back into the presence of the others. The episode climaxes with a blending of the psychological and the physical, expressed through actual events interspersed with snippets of thought and memory. It is so well-crafted, I am inspired to read it again as I write these words.

This series is so good and works on so many levels, I highly recommend it to everyone, even if you are not a fan of graphic horror, because the craftsmanship of the writing and artwork are both so strong. If you’ve read any of this series, please feel free to share your thoughts.

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Issue #2

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I was beginning to think that I would never see a second issue in this series. There was quite a lapse between Issue 1 and this installment. I must say, though, well worth the wait. My expectations were very high, and this certainly met my expectations.

Issue 1 left off with two teenage girls summoning a woman’s soul from Gehenna. This woman is nicknamed Madam Satan and was the spurned lover of Sabrina’s father, who committed suicide in a moment of anguished passion. She is now on a path of revenge, the summit of which is inflicting unspeakable suffering upon Sabrina.

The artwork and writing style are both consistent with the 60’s horror genre, which works very well. There are also lots of nice literary allusions woven in, as well as nods to pop culture in the 60’s. The combination really succeeds in drawing you in to the tale. As I flipped the final page, I felt a tingle that was reminiscent of how I felt reading campy horror as a kid. I applaud the creative team that put this together. It ranks up with some of the best horror I have read in a long, long time.

I hope that subsequent issues will begin coming out more frequently. I am so impressed with this comic, I wish I had another issue to read right now. If you’re a horror fan, this is a must read, but be sure to get the first issue and read that before immersing yourself in this one. Enjoy!

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Afterlife with Archie: Issue #7 (Pursued by the Past)

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This comic never ceases to impress me.

This issue is written from the perspective of Betty, who has acquired a blank diary and is attempting to recreate memories from her lost diaries as the group tries to make its way toward the CDC. Her diary entries form a narrative that blends past and present, which works incredibly well. In essence, she is using her journal as a way to dig up the dead, or the past which has been buried in the deep recesses of her psyche. It is almost as if she is undergoing a therapeutic self-analysis.

There is one journal entry which really stands out for me:

… they were all there, Diary. The “dead” we’d just “buried.” They were following us–pursuing us… That became our life. Running, always running, barely ahead of the monsters chasing us…

We often think that our past pains and demons are dead, but this is never really the case. We can bury the past, but never kill it. It is always there, waiting for the opportunity to rise and overtake us. This is the root of addiction, trying to escape the past which never ceases to pursue us. And no matter how fast or how far we run, our internal monsters are right behind us.

While this is a horror story and depicts a “zombie apocalypse,” it is the psychological horror that is truly the most terrifying aspect of this comic. We all have our psychological monsters which haunt and torment our memories, and like Betty, many of us turn to journal writing as a way of dealing with our painful memories. This often helps, but sometimes, it just reopens wounds that we thought had healed.

Happy Friday the 13th!

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Afterlife with Archie: Issue #6 (Blending Lovecraft and Pop Culture)

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Alright, I’ll admit it. I am completely hooked into the Archie horror comics. They are so damn good, I can’t get enough of them. In fact, after reading this issue, I am going to delve into the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series. I believe there are two or three issues out, so I should not have a problem getting those.

This issue focuses on Sabrina, who is in a mental institution run by Doctor H. P. Lovecraft. There are lots of great allusions to Lovecraft’s writing, which works really well in the story. In addition, the artwork is downright creepy and draws on Lovecraftian imagery that crawled right out of the primordial slime and onto the pages of this comic. At this point, I’m issuing a spoiler alert, because I could not do this review justice without revealing what happens.

Sabrina discovers from another of the youths at the institution that Lovecraft plans to resurrect the old gods.

Erich: Lovecraft? He’s not a doctor, he’s a procurer. He procures for them.

Sabrina: What?

Erich: And Godzilla? From the movies? He’s one of them—one of the elder gods—Yig. Same with the Creature from the Black Lagoon—he’s Dagon.

At the end of the issue, Sabrina is offered as a bride to Cthulhu, who is summoned from the depths. And while the imagery and artwork are outstanding, it is the writing which is really the most amazing aspect of this comic. It is some of the best writing I have ever encountered in a graphic horror publication.

Then they all back away from me, and I’m alone in the Temple of R’lyeh, and I hear it, the sound of thunder… Of the world cracking in half… Of a universe being born… or dying… And it rises in front of me, from beneath the ocean’s depths, where it had been asleep… until I—I—awoke it by reading that spell that was meant to save Hot Dog… It blots out the sun—or maybe the sun simply ceases to be… And in the forever-darkness, I hear Dr. Lovecraft, on the edge of reality, saying: “All hail, Sabrina Spellman, Queen of Carcosa…bride of Cthulhu.”

This passage really captures the psychological symbolism which makes Lovecraft’s stories so engaging. It expresses the surfacing of the darker shadow aspects of the subconscious mind seething up to the forefront of the psyche. I personally got chills when I read it.

I am going on the assumption that this leads into the Sabrina comics, and honestly, I cannot wait to start reading them. This is one of the best graphic series I have ever read. If you are a horror fan, I guarantee you will love these comics.

Thanks for stopping by, and keep on reading!

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Afterlife with Archie: Issue #5

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Another excellent issue! In this installment, Archie and the gang formulate a plan to escape Lodge Manor, which is being overrun by zombies. This segment of the tale is narrated by Smithers, the Lodge’s butler. There are some great insights into what it is like to serve as a butler, to be the eyes and ears in a grand household, but to move silently and remain unseen. It’s very well done.

There is a quote that I found interesting. Fireworks are set off to distract the zombies so the group can make their escape. Smithers makes an astute observation regarding the zombies’ reactions.

There was something… child-like about them; they were captivated; as if some sliver of their former selves existed beneath the corruption…

I believe that our past always remains with us. Our experiences form who we are, and no matter what we become later on in life, we always retain a part of who we once were. It is impossible to completely sever yourself from your past.

Something I have failed to mention in my previous posts regarding this series is that each issue includes a short black-and-white horror vignette at the end, reminiscent of the classic horror comics which I grew up reading. The one in this issue is definitely worth mentioning. It concerns a person who creates a modern golem, which he unleashes to seek revenge on his girlfriend and his best friend, who are having an affair. The myth of the golem fascinates me, and I have to say that this tale is pretty true to the myth. It was a nice bonus for me.

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Afterlife with Archie: Issue #4 (Oedipal Archie)

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This comic is graphic, scary, and now I can add intellectually engaging. I have nothing but praise for this.

This issue begins with a flashback to when Archie is young and his parents took him to adopt a puppy. Archie’s mom, Mary, is struck with sadness as she remembers having a dog as a child, and when the dog died, having to face the realization that death is an inevitable part of life, something her own young son must one day learn.

Mary: …I’m just remembering the dog I had, when I was a girl. Spotty. How overjoyed I was when I got him, and how utterly devastated I was when… when…

Fred: Spotty was a good dog.

Mary: He was, and it was the most awful feeling, Fred, and I can’t bear the thought of Archie going through it.

Fred: Yes, but that’s years from now, Mary. And sad to say, a part of growing up. Comes a time in every young person’s life when they realize that not everything is forever…

Mary: Too, too soon… when they learn that death’s a part of life, even their own.

Archie makes it home where his dog, Vegas, fights with the infected Hot Dog and becomes a zombie dog too. But the real dark twist in the story comes when Archie enters his house and discovers his mom is alive but that his dad is infected and has become one of the walking dead. As Fred gets ready to attack Archie’s mother, Archie comes to her defense and violently kills his father, having flashbacks of their happier times together as he is forced to smash his father’s skull with a baseball bat.

It is a very dark and disturbing sequence, but very symbolic. Archie assumes the role of an adult male and the master of the household upon the killing of his father. He then escapes with his mother in an attempt to make it back to Veronica’s house and rejoin the others. Even though there is no sexual innuendo concerning Archie and his mother, this is a clear reference to the Oedipus myth.

I am still amazed at how complex and dark this series is. I applaud the writers for taking risks and making Archie into something modern and engaging.

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Afterlife with Archie: Issue #3 (Things Fall Apart… Quickly)

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Archie and the gang trying to survive the zombie apocalypse; it just doesn’t get much better than this.

Issue 2 left off with Archie and the gang holed up inside Veronica Lodge’s mansion, but with the revelation that one of them was infected. That one turns out to be Midge. Meanwhile, Archie sneaks out to find his parents and discovers that chaos reigns in Riverdale.

My favorite passage from this issue is spoken by Veronica’s father, Hiram Lodge. After his butler reports on the status of things, Hiram comments: “Good Lord, how did it all fall apart so quickly?” We all like to think that our social structure is so secure, but the reality is that is not the case. Things fall apart, and when they do, it happens quickly. I remember being in Miami when Hurricane Andrew struck. What I witnessed first-hand changed my view of society’s stability forever. In no time at all, people were shooting at each other over water, breaking into each other’s homes to steal food and supplies. It was complete chaos.

Our society has become so digitized, I shudder to think what would happen if there was a collapse in infrastructure. How many people have money or food stores on hand? Very few. If all of a sudden no one could use a credit card or withdraw from an ATM, what would happen? Things would fall apart… quickly.

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