Markley’s Fevered Brain: Archie is Dead!

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

To know me is to know my love for Archie comics from the 1950s and ‘60s. Over its 75 year plus history, Archie comics have evolved in a number of ways, from art style to the type of stories they tell. The cast of characters – Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Reggie – always tend to be there, but the presentation has evolved over time. In recent years Archie has taken an approach of making their classic characters more modern looking, and doing stories more reality based as opposed to the gag stories they did for so long. They have also found success with taking their characters to television with the TV show Riverdale and the forthcoming Sabrina show. Now these shows barely, if at all, reflect the Archie I grew up with and loved, but they are making Archie relevant in the modern world, and helping Archie Comics to stay alive. Archie Comics also has another path they started, in their publishing at least, with a series of books based on the classic Archie characters in supernatural settings, and that is what I am going to look at today.

These stories are separate from the world of Archie you would see in the old cartoons, or comics, or even in the modern digests which are the best way to get the classic material. These are a series of books that all have alternate versions of Archie and the gang, where the world is much darker and magic and monsters are common. Due to this, these titles are for mature readers since there is so much death and violence in these books.

Afterlife With Archie

Afterlife With Archie


The book that led off this new world was Afterlife with Archie. The premise of this book is Hot Dog, Jughead’s dog, is killed by a car. Heartbroken, Jughead has Sabrina bring him back to life. This turns him into a zombie and, in turn, he starts to infect the other members of Riverdale. It quickly became a typical zombie survivor story, but because of the blood and guts and the quick death count of famous characters, the book caught the public’s attention and quickly became a hit. It was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and drawn by Francesco Francavilla. Unfortunately the book was plagued by delay after delay and it has lost much of it following. There has not been a new issue since August of 2016 (Issue #10). This is largely due to the success of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa who is the executive producer and writer of the Riverdale TV show. The book was dark as much of the story takes place at night and the attacks came nonstop and no one was safe. Every issue brought more and more shocking deaths to the point I started to wonder who would survive to keep the book going. I have no doubt that the comic will come back at some point, but in the meantime there are two trade collections of the first ten issues to keep you entertained. A must read for fans of zombie stories or horror in general.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina


Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was the second title launched after the success of Afterlife with Archie. Here Sabrina was a true witch and her aunts were not the nicest of people. Still kind compared to the rest of the cast, they are not bad but they are not perky aunts from the television show. The cast includes her boyfriend Harvey, and her dear old cat, plus another witch from the past who is making Sabrina’s live a living hell, even though Sabrina does not know it. Plus, dear old dad is back from the dead. As with Afterlife, this book is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa but it is drawn by Robert Hack. Sadly like Afterlife, Sabrina’s schedule slowed down to a crawl until it finally stopped. Again I know Archie plans to revive the book at some point but who knows when that will be. So far there is one trade collection out reprinting the first six issues but there is a second collection due out in the latter part of 2018 which I find hard to believe as so far there has only been one issue published past the first trade (number seven). Overall this book is a fun read with a nice chilling edge to the stories that is perfect for horror fans.

Jughead: The Hunger

Jughead: The Hunger


Jughead: The Hunger is Archie’s attempt to revive their horror line after all of the delays of Afterlife and Sabrina. So far, so good as the book has come out on a regular schedule and the first collection is due in the fall of 2018. These stories are written by Frank Tieri and drawn by Michael Walsh and Pat and Tim Kennedy. Here it is revealed that Jughead’s never ending hunger is not due to his bottomless pit of a stomach, but due to the fact he comes from a long line of werewolves. As with most of these Archie Horror titles they draw a lot from classic horror mythology (Universal Monsters, etc.), yet remain fresh and entertaining. There is once again a fair amount of death and killing going on in this book as Jughead and his family are being hunted because of what they are. So far, as with all of the Archie Horror books, this is a quick paced and entertaining horror story that will keep you turning the pages and wanting more.

Vampironica

Vampironica


Then there is Vampironica by Geoff and Meg Smallwood. I really enjoyed this book. The art by Geoff is beautiful and very cinematic and the story flows like water. The first issue was a quick but enjoyable read that sets up what is to come. As the title implies, poor Veronica comes home to find both of her parents killed by a vampire and she flees the house and from there the adventure begins. I did not have high hopes for this book, but I was wrong. This might be my favorite book of this line, and that is only after one issue. I hope the rest of the series is this good.

Chilling Adventures in Sorcery

Chilling Adventures in Sorcery


Finally, there is a trade that is not really part of the Archie Horror line but it is part of Archie history and in some ways leads to the current books. It is called Chilling Adventures in Sorcery and it reprints the first seven issues of the comic of the same name from the early 1970s. The early issues are basically Sabrina telling horror stories, almost like campfire stories, and they are done in the traditional Archie style. With issue three, the series shifted to a more traditional horror anthology featuring art by Gray Morrow, Alex Toth, Frank Thorne, Howard Chaykin, and others. The stories in issues three through seven are more in tune with Eerie and Creepy than the lighter fare in the first two issues. The stories are dark and creepy with very nice art that looks nothing like traditional Archie style. There are even occasional text stories to go with the comic stories. This collection is in black and white ever though the original comics were in color. There is more material from the original run of the comic that ran through issue 11 as well as a number of issues of Madhouse that also had a brief run with horror stories so I am hoping there will be a second collection soon.

Archie Horror is not for fans of the classic romantic triangle that Archie was built on but it might appeal to fans of the Riverdale TV show and will definitely appeal to fans of horror. After a rocky start, Archie seems to have gotten into a grove with Jughead and Veronica’s horror titles seeming on schedule. I find I enjoy these titles far more than I thought I would as I am such a huge fan of the classic material, but these reimagining’s are fun and entertaining.

So have you read any of these stories? What did you think? Did you enjoy them? Hate them? I would like to know. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. I always welcome your comments and suggestions or even review copies if you would like me to discuss your books. All of the words and opinions here are mine and they do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of Westfield Comics and their employees. As always…

Thank you.

USER COMMENTS

We'd love to hear from you, feel free to add to the discussion!