Comic Book: Afterlife with Archie

This is how the end of the world begins...

After the successful addition of Kevin Keller in 2010, Archie Comics began looking at ways to expand their audience and perhaps modernize their image in the 21st Century.

Hey, those zombie movies seem to be pretty popular nowadays...

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night in Riverdale, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch is disturbed from her sleep by her friend Jughead Jones, whose beloved pet dog was struck by a car. Though her Aunts try their best, there is nothing to be done — Hot Dog is long dead. However, Sabrina is moved by Jughead's plight and they plot a way to bring him back. Naturally, the spell goes awry, and Jughead becomes the Patient Zero of a full-blown Zombie Apocalypse right in the heart of Riverdale...

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and drawn by Francesco Francavilla, the result is a full-fledged horror series with the sprawling cast of the Archie series. Darker and Edgier is the flavor of the day, with bold, impressionistic coloring and a helping of Nothing Is Scarier (it is still Archie, after all; they've got to get by with the equivalent of a PG-13 rating). It's Archie Comics' first foray into the Direct Market (they typically target supermarkets and newsstands), and the initial printing of Issue #1 sold out. Twice.


  • All Take and No Give: Betty's flashbacks to her childhood heavily imply this about Veronica. When the two were younger, Veronica basically declared herself and Betty best friends and expected Betty to be there for her, even though Veronica was extremely callous and inconsiderate towards Betty and others.
  • And I Must Scream: Sabrina's punishment for breaking the rules of natural order in bringing Hot Dog back to life. Her aunts transform into terrifying crones and banish her to Purgatory, but not before stripping her mouth right off her face.
  • Anyone Can Die: The first issue alone kills off Jughead, Archie's best friend. After becoming infected, Jughead proceeds to attack and infect his parents, Mr. Weatherbee, and Ms. Grundy.
    • In the second issue, Jughead murders Big Ethel in front of the entire school before finally being contained.
    • In the third issue, Midge is revealed to be infected and later infects Moose.
    • In the fourth issue, Vegas fends off Hot Dog to protect Archie and becomes infected.
    • In the fifth issue, Betty's parents and Coach Kleats have become zombies as well.
    • In the seventh issue, Jason is either killed by a zombie or by his own sister.
  • Ascended Extra: Smithers, the Lodges' Butler, who gets a Day In The Lime Light narrating the fifth issue and backs Archie up on escaping Lodge Manor before the zombies overrun them.
    • Ginger, a rarely used side character and Nancy, who has few appearances without her boyfriend Chuck get quite a few scenes on their own before they join the main group. They're also secretly a couple.
    • Betty's obscure sister, Polly, gets a fair amount of screentime in flashbacks.
  • Back for the Dead: Jellybean Jones.
  • Badass Gay: Kevin sucker-punches Reggie in issue 5 after the latter accuses him of being a "sick pervert." Smithers, watching via a security camera, notes that he appears to have some military training (a Continuity Nod to Kevin's father, who's an American soldier). Kevin also later teams up with Ginger to take down zombies with bows and arrows.
    • Ginger herself counts. In addition to the above team-up with Kevin, she and Nancy were able to fend off a zombie Mr. Jones and burnt down Pop Tates' shop to defeat attacking zombies.
  • Batter Up: How Archie kills his father.
  • Big Bad: Zombie Jughead
  • Big Brother Bully: More like "Big Sister Bully", but same principle. Betty's older sister, Polly, was one. Flashbacks show that she was constantly mean to Betty under the assumption that their parents preferred Betty to her.
  • Broad Strokes: While the series is very much set in an Alternate Universe, many character beats and tics are derived from the Archie-Verse proper and it can be argued that at the very least recent stories involving introductions (like the Arc introducing Kevin Keller) did happen as in normal continuity.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Implied between Cheryl and Jason Blossom.
  • Came Back Wrong: A given in Zombie Fiction, but special consideration must be given to Hot Dog. His personality completely flips from a dumb, loveable mutt to vicious Hell Hound, and his first act upon returning to life is to give Jughead a nasty bite... inadvertently turning him into Patient Zero of Riverdale's zombie outbreak.
  • The Cameo: One of Betty's flashbacks involves her and Archie at a Josie and the Pussycats concert.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Veronica towards Archie. Played for Drama, since it leads to her becoming more hostile towards Betty.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: #6 reveals that the zombie plague is nothing but a side effect of the actual spell Sabrina unwittingly cast, which has caused Cthulhu's awakening.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Jason Blossom, towards Cheryl. It's revealed that he actually killed Cheryl's puppy when the two were children since she seemed to care more for it than Jason.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Hiram Lodge. He built his manor on the highest hill bordering Riverdale and fortified it... just in case, as both Archie and Mr. Lodge himself point out. He even had the air vent grates electrified to prevent an Air Vent Escape. Fortunately, Archie and Dilton figured out how to turn it off long ago.
  • Darker and Edgier: If you thought Life with Archie: The Married Life was dramatic... Character designs are still stylized, but are far more realistically proportioned than the typical Dan DeCarlo-esque art. Francesco Francavilla's artwork is also rather dark and moody, very much befitting a horror comic.
    • Several of the character's personality traits are played a little more realistically.
    • Moose, while still being a bit dim, is no longer a case of borderline mental disability and loses his Verbal Tic of "D-uh..."
    • Reggie, normally a comedic Jerk with a Heart of Gold, is portrayed as a much more unsavory character.
    • Betty and Veronica are normally portrayed as Vitriolic Best Buds, but while they do have moments of friendship in this story, they are generally shown to hate one another over their rivalry for Archie's affections.
    • Nancy and Ginger's relationship is portrayed very dramatically (in contrast with the idealistic, wholehearted acceptance of Kevin's sexuality in the main series), with Nancy actually implying at one point that a couple consisting of a Latina and a black girl would have trouble gaining the same acceptance as a gay white male from a well-off family.
  • Death by Adaptation: Oh so many, as expected from a Darker and Edgier Zombie Apocalypse adaptation of a series famous for being quite family friendly. Hot Dog, Jughead, Ethel, Moose, almost all the major adults, Midge, Vegas, Sugar (Cheryl's Pomeranian), Jason..
    • There are two notable examples that occurred prior to the start of the series: Veronica's mother died some time ago due to illness, and Kevin states that his father died in the Gulf War. Both are alive and well in the main series.
  • Deconstruction: So, you've got Your Cheating Heart played for laughs in the Archieverse? Here Betty and Veronica hate each other because of it.
    • Everyone (except for Reggie) easily accepting Kevin's sexuality. Nancy is convinced she and Ginger wouldn't be as accepted as a well-off white boy.
    • Sabrina ignoring her aunts' warnings and using her magic however she pleases. Normally there's no lasting consequences and she simply gets a minor punishment if any at all. Here it causes a Zombie Apocalypse and her Aunts respond by turning into horrific monsters and banish her to purgatory while taking her mouth away so she couldn't plead with them. Moreover, it's revealed that her reckless use of magic summons Cthulhu.
    • Jughead's hatred of Veronica is normally a simple case of Snark-to-Snark Combat between the two. Here, Zombie!Jughead nearly murders her due to his lingering feelings of hatred towards her.
  • Dramatic Irony: Betty's journal entries indicate that she believes Veronica ultimately isn't a bad person at heart, but just has trouble realizing how her actions hurt others. Veronica, meanwhile, flat-out accuses Betty of being a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Fanservice: The alternate covers of Issue #5, #6, and #7.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Say hello to Sabrina's husband, Cthulhu.
  • Failure Knight: Hiram Lodge walked on the edge of this before diving in headfirst when Moose and Midge end up bringing the infection into Lodge Manor.
    Mr. Lodge: ...two of them were lost, Smithers, on my watch. What will I tell their mothers and fathers... that I took them in... that they were under my care and I couldn't protect them?
  • First Episode Spoiler: Jughead is the first person in Riverdale to become infected, and is in fact the primary point of infection once he arrives at the school dance. It isn't precisely a spoiler considering that the series has based its entire advertising campaign on the sight of an Undead Jughead.
  • Gayngst: Nancy and Ginger are dealing with this. Ginger wants to be open with their relationship, but Nancy is reluctant due to concern regarding how their loved ones will react.
  • Greater Scope Villain: Cthulhu
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Veronica towards Betty, in regards to her relationship with Archie.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Holy spit, his costume's awesome!" Even with the abolishing of The Comics Code, they still can't curse in the Archie universe.
  • The Hero: Archie Andrews. Lampshaded during the costume party, where he is dressed as his Super-Teens alternate universe character Pureheart the Powerful.
  • Heroic BSOD: This hits Archie hard after he bashes his father's head in with a baseball bat to save his mother. He holds it together long enough to get them to his jalopy, but completely breaks down behind the wheel. Later Veronica finds him with Betty in another Heroic BSOD.
  • Heroic Dog: Vegas, who knowingly sacrifices himself to save Archie from Hot Dog.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the beginning of Issue 4, Vegas does this to save Archie from Hotdog.
  • Hope Spot: In the first three issues, it seemed like there were ways to kill off the zombies—Ethel was beaten until she stopped moving, and Ginger and Nancy torched the Chocolate Shop to take down Mr. Jones and Pop Tate. At the end of issue 4, though, we see that both Ethel and Pop are still very much undead, indicating that virtually none of the methods for killing zombies actually worked. It remains to be seen if Mr. Andrews is actually defeated or not.
  • Jerk Ass: Reggie Mantle. Yes, he didn't meant to run over Hot Dog (and it's implied he feels terrible about it); but he acts like a homophobic jerk to Kevin, and insists that they keep Cheryl with the group after she potentially murdered her brother, Jason, because he figures it's the best chance he has of "doing his part to preserve humanity."
    • Veronica also starts showing signs of this towards Betty after the group has fled Lodge Manor and is trekking through the wilderness.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Business as usual for Archie, though most of the adult cast save Mrs.Andrews, Smithers and Mr. Lodge, are infected off-panel.
  • Love Confession: As of issue #8, Archie's finally made up his mind about which of the girls he wants to marry. Betty wins.
  • Meet Cute: How Betty met Archie. Her mother sent her next door with a pie to welcome the new neighbors, resulting in Love at First Sight for her.
  • Missing Mom: Veronica's mother Hermione died sometime before the events of the comic. It's implied to have happened recently, as Hiram Lodge has a nightmare where she shows up as a zombie and both his daughter and Betty have a sober conversation about how they both miss her. Averted with Mrs. Andrews in issue 4.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Veronica Lodge shows up to the school dance in a Vampirella costume, and she spends most of Issue #3 in a fairly skimpy swimsuit... which is lampshaded by Betty.
    Betty: So, uhm... what's with the swimwear?
    Veronica: I'm heading to the pool, where the party and the frolicking has already begun.
    Betty: Is that really... appropriate? Given the-
    Veronica: -just because we're trapped here doesn't mean we have to suffer and be bored. I mean, yes, we're worried, but what better way to distract ourselves than with an End-Of-The-World Pool Party?
    • Several variant covers portray Betty, Veronica, and Sabrina in very fanservice-y outfits.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Reggie is going though this at the beginning after accidentally murdering Hot Dog.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Dr. Lovecraft.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Though noble, Sabrina's actions wound up subjecting Riverdale to the zombie apocalypse in the first place.
  • Nightmare Face: Jughead's blood-covered mouth and mismatched eyes are pretty gruesome, but the dessicated, ghoulish faces of Sabrina's Aunts as they banish her to Purgatory is the stuff of nightmares.
    Salem: I hate it when they do that.
  • Not So Different: Hiram Lodge and Archie Andrews. Their character arcs are paralleled as both fail to save people under their care and hit Heroic BSOD moments at nearly the same time. Much like in the traditional comics, the elder Lodge seems to dislike Archie because they are so much alike.
  • Not Using the Z Word: Averted! Dillon and Chuck are clearly aware of the existence of zombies in media and get the rest of the gang to call it like they see it.
    • A humorous take on it occurs later on when Kevin refers to the zombies as "the horde" because the z-word lacks a certain "je ne sai quoi".
  • Only Six Faces: Averted! There are discernible differences between Betty and Veronica (Betty is a bit taller, bustier, and less slender than Veronica), Cheryl Blossom (petite and curvy), Ginger and Nancy (who have two very different facial structures), and Ethel Muggs (who is no longer a total Gonk, but keeps her buck teeth). It's worth pointing out because the traditional series is notorious for this.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The infected seem to be a blend of Flesh-Eating Zombie and Revenant Zombie, which gives Veronica a nasty surprise when Jughead looks her in the eye just after he's eaten Big Ethel. Somehow, he remembers that he and Veronica hate each other... and then immediately lunges for her. If not for Archie's intervention, he would have likely killed her.
    • Another point for Revenant Zombie - Jughead escapes his captivity from the Riverdale High School gym and leads the zombified populace towards Lodge Manor with a Slasher Smile on his face.
  • Overprotective Dad: Just like in the main series, Hiram Lodge clearly doesn't think too highly of Archie or his relationship with Veronica.
  • The Plague: Discussed; Dilton at one point explains just how quickly a plague can spread and suggests the possibility that there are now thousands of infectees.
    • Smithers actually tells Lodge that the US government is actually intervening in the Riverdale situation, meaning that they are also taking the potential of a plague very seriously. Lodge is only flabbergasted with how quickly things have fallen apart.
  • Precision F-Strike: Archie manages a big one when he rescues his mother from his infected father.
    Archie: Dad... get the hell away from Mom.
  • Raising the Steaks: While Jughead is the first Zombie Infectee, his pet dog is the one who gave him that fateful bite. It remains to be seen if Hot Dog is the only animal to become zombified. It turns out animals can be turned, as Vegas gives his life to protect Archie from an infected Hot Dog... and then later shows up infected himself at Jughead's side during the siege of Lodge Manor.
  • Ron the Death Eater: In-universe example; Veronica seems to believe that Betty is actually a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, though it's heavily implied that she's just jealous of the attention Betty gets from Archie.
  • Screw The Zombie Apocalypse, We're Partying: Veronica's reaction to the end of the world is to throw a pool party at her house with the survivors of the school dance, though she confides in Betty that the only reason she's having the party is because she would be crying and terrified if she didn't. Things don't go well when it turns out Midge was infected and in turn infected Moose.
    • Betty goes through a minor version of this just beforehand, wanting to hole up in the library and read through Ronnie's enormous collection.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Dilton leaves his room rather than deal with the melodrama involving Jason and Cheryl's incest.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: You know things are going to get dark when the first character they zombify is Jughead.
  • Shout-Out: See here.
  • Shipper on Deck: The ghost of Jughead seems to be one of these for Archie and Betty.
  • Spirit Advisor: In issue #8, Archie finds himself talking with an apparition of Jughead Jones, as he was before he became a zombie. Archie wonders if he's losing his mind, but we later see Jughead's ghost conversing with the spirit of Jellybean, with Archie not seeming to notice them. This suggests that the earlier conversation was Real After All.
  • Suddenly Sexuality
    • Nancy and Ginger are (secretly) a couple.
    • According to Sabrina, Salem is bi-curious.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Invoked by Veronica. When Big Ethel goes up to a newly-zombified Jughead to complement his "costume", he tears out her throat while everyone else around them titters nervously.
    Veronica: That's when he did it, Daddy... that's when Jughead bit Ethel. It didn't seem real, at first. It was like a scene from some asinine horror movie. I...I think that's why people started laughing.
  • That Man Is Dead: After the death of her brother, Cheryl states that she's not "Cheryl" anymore, and identifies herself as "Blaze."
  • The Un-Reveal: Cheryl tells the other female characters (and only the female characters) the truth about her and Jason. Archie (and, by extension, the reader) doesn't know what she actually said, only that it was so bad that it came close to driving Betty over the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Most of the characters who aren't infected:
    • Archie goes from a clumsy goof to a capable fighter who stops Jughead from killing Veronica, saves his mother from his zombified father and comes up with the plan that gets the group out of Lodge Manor.
    • Kevin cold-clocks Reggie after the later throws a homophobic insult his way just for trying to help him and with Ginger's help takes out Coach Kleats.
    • Nancy and Ginger. In addition to Ginger's team up with Kevin noted above, the two of them burn the Choclit Shoppe down to destroy the zombies inside and manage to make it to the mansion together.
    • A dark example with Jughead's zombification. He goes from the comic relief to a horrifying, super-fast murder machine and leader of the undead hordes of Riverdale.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: A lot of the characters are a lot more mean spirited than in the original comics
    • Reggie insults Kevin by calling him a 'perv' just for trying to help him
    • Ginger seems to outright hate Chuck, which is somewhat justified considering she and Nancy are dating in secret.
    • The worst of it might just be Jason Blossom, with it being heavily implied and all but outright stated that he sexually abuses his twin sister Cheryl, and murdered her pet dog just because she liked it better than him
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Sabrina sparks the zombie plague using the Necronomicon.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Turns out bubbly, cheerful, always-sunny Riverdale had a grim secret even before the Zombie Apocalypse hit: The three original founding families, to save Riverdale from collapsing during WWII, made a deal with the witches of Greendale to protect the town and everyone in exchange for a child from each of the founding families, over the next three generations.
  • Twincest: Cheryl and Jason Blossom act very intimately towards each other. Jughead's ghost even says they have a "twincest-y vibe".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Deconstructed; Betty and Veronica are supposedly best friends, but it's made abundantly clear that the two have serious issues with one another and aren't afraid of getting into arguments over them.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Nancy to Chuck with Ginger.
    • The love triangle between Archie, Betty, and Veronica also becomes a lot more angsty as a result of this.
    • There are also strong implications through Smithers's flashbacks that Hiram Lodge often cheated on his wife (though he seems genuinely remorseful after her death).
  • Would Hurt a Child: The witches of Greendale, who take one child from each of Riverdale's founding families once per generation for three generations as payment for their protection. Their most recent victim is Jellybean, Jughead's little sister.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The entire premise of the book! Unlike several recent works, it explores the origins of the infection and its exact (mystical) cause.