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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 for the 21st Century.

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

It's 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's 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 for a full-blown Zombie Apocalypse right in the heart of Riverdale. And that's just the beginning...

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and drawn by Francesco Francavilla, the result is a full-fledged horror series featuring 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.


Afterlife with Archie provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • In the main comics, Betty and Veronica are typically best friends. This comic reverts them back to their earlier relationship where they were enemies.
    • Veronica and Jughead bicker in the main comics, however it's mostly lighthearted. Here, Jughead hates Veronica.
    • Traditionally Betty and Archie are Childhood Friends while Veronica moved to Riverdale later (usually in high school). Here, Veronica and Betty were "friends" until Archie moved into Riverdale during middle school.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Ginger and Nancy are secretly dating in this series.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Quite a bit of it.
    • Reggie's prankish behavior and self-centeredness are elevated into explicit sociopathy. He instigates the entire plot by swerving deliberately to hit Jughead's dog in a fit of rage over getting beaten by Moose, then agrees to kill Betty and doom the survivors for the chance to have Midge resurrected as his lover.
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    • Cheryl, sort of. She's always a spoiled rotten kid in the comics, but here, she might have murdered her own brother. This suspicion almost led to her being kicked out of the group, with Archie breaking a split decision.
    • Alexandra Cabot. While she isn't the nicest person in the comics, this version of her runs an Orphanage of Fear that houses the Pussycats and Pepper Smith while extorting them for their singing talent. She still appears to care for them to a degree, as she cautions Pepper against a disastrous marriage.
    • Sabrina's aunts and the people of Riverdale entered a pact whereby they sacrificed some of the children of the town to Cthulhu in order to protect the community from outside threats.
  • Alternate Universe: The whole series is separate from "normal" Archie.
  • 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 Limelight 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 screen time in flashbacks.
    • In a way, Sabrina and her family. In previous Archie titles they usually play the role of guest spot appearance and one-shot stories that doesn't have any impact due to Status Quo Is God. Here, at least three Spellmans played key roles in shaping Riverdale, for better or worse: Sabrina instigated the zombie apocalypse while two of her ancestors protect the town from falling apart during World War II by demanding a child to sacrifice from the three founding families (the Jones, the Andrews and the Coopers) for the next three generations.
  • Back for the Dead: Jellybean Jones.
  • Batter Up!: How Archie kills his father.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Josie and the Pussycats, who are Really 700 Years Old vampires and have been killing Ku Klux Klan members and Axis soldiers while the man who bit Josie is the true culprit of the Charles Manson case.
  • 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.
  • 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. This is expanded slightly when Vegas, Archie's dog, becomes a zombie - as his thoughts previously were about saving Archie, and then become "KILL! MAIM! EAT! FOOD!"
  • 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 characters' 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.
    • The Spellmans are usually portrayed as surprisingly pleasant witches that can easily blend in with humans. Here, the comic reimagines them creepy, unsettling individuals and makes it clear that they're fundamentally different in morality and have no qualm about things like marrying off their niece to Cthulhu after its awakening and sacrificed the children from the founding families of Riverdale in exchange for their protection.
    • Josie and the Pussycats are portrayed as Noble Demon immortal vampires who fought Klan members and fascists between singing and performing.
  • Deal with the Devil: After leaving the group as penance for being responsible for the whole mess in a moment of thoughtless malice, Reggie encounters the zombies and offers himself as atonement. Instead, Sabrina, now one of the Old Ones, tells him he can become a hero and have Midge alive and all to himself, for the price of killing the heart and hope of the survivors: Archie's fiancé, Betty. Despite the fact that there is no reason to believe them, Reggie quickly turns his back on repentance and accepts the offer.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • 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), and Jason are offed during the main story.
    • There are several notable examples that occurred prior to the start of the series: Veronica's mother died some time ago due to illness, Kevin states that his father died in the Gulf War, Alexandra Cabot died of old age and Pepper Smith who got killed by Josie to protect her secret. All are alive and well in the main series.
    • You can add Jughead's sister Jellybean and Betty's older sister Polly to that list.
  • Deconstruction:
    • So, you've got infidelity 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: Alexandra Cabot and Pepper Smith in the Josie and the Pussycats storylines. Notable that they both did not become immortal vampires like Josie, Valerie and Melody.
  • 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.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Say hello to Sabrina's husband, Cthulhu.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Reggie goes through one in issue #9 after Sabrina corrupted by Cthulhu promises to turn a zombified Midge back to normal.
  • 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?
  • Fanservice: The alternate covers of Issue #5, #6, and #7.
  • First-Episode Twist: 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.
  • Foreshadowing: One of Betty's flashbacks involves her and Archie at a Josie and the Pussycats concert before their appearance and origin story in issue 10.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Turns out Josie and the Pussycats are vampires....who really just enjoy singing, subsist on synthetic and animal blood and don't hurt anyone. Except as the end of issue 10 reveals, when they 'miss the hunt,' they're not averse to snacking on some poor sucker as 'room service.' This crosses into Noble Demon given that they are trying to stop the man who bit Josie Henry Irving from killing more people and have helped kill Ku Klux Klan members and Axis soldiers.
  • 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.
  • Ghostly Goals: It turns out that the spirit of every zombie-infected victim is haunting Riverdale separate from their zombiefied bodies; Jughead has become something of a Nonhuman Sidekick this way. Where this revelation will lead is anyone's guess.
  • 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.
    • Archie does manage a Precision ''H'' Strike, as seen below.
      • Subsequent issues begin removing the bowldlerization.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Cthulhu.
  • 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.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Jughead turns and begins infecting the town on Halloween night.
  • A House Divided: Veronica's dad still has quarrels with Archie, and often opposes his ideas, despite being on the same side.
  • Love Confession: As of issue #8, Archie's finally made up his mind about which of the girls he wants to marry. Betty wins.
  • Lovecraft Country: The location of Riverdale seems to be in either Maine or New Hampshire, as the protagonists must pass through Vermont in order to reach the CDC in Pittsburgh.
  • 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.
  • Mirror Character: 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 precisely because they are so much alike.
  • 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.
  • Monster Mash: In addition to the zombies, you've got witches, ghosts (sometimes of the same bodies as the zombies!) and Cthulhu.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The entire series seems to have been inspired by a Gag Cover version of one of the Life With Archie covers by Francesco Francavilla.
    • In issue six, Sabrina gives her last name as "Sawyer", her surname from the 1996 TV movie, as an alias.
    • Cheryl changes her name to "Blaze" in issue 7. That's the name used by her counterpart in the bizarre Elseworld Archie series "Explorers of the Unknown".
    • Jellybean Jones and Polly Cooper are subjected to Death by Adaptation, most likely taken by the Spellman sisters as part of a Human Sacrifice ritual. This is probably a reference to the fact that a lot of modern writers tend to forget these characters exist. Pepper of the Pussycats gets almost the same treatment, with some slight differences as to her actual fate.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Dr. Lovecraft.
  • Nightmare Face: Jughead's blood-covered mouth and mismatched eyes are pretty gruesome, but the desiccated, 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 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".
  • Older Than They Look: Josie and the Pussycats are all much older than the teenagers they appear to be. Since they're vampires.
  • 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.
    • Interestingly, the comic also seems to show that the same person can become both a ghost and a zombie at the same time, as happens to Jughead, suggesting that a person's spirit doesn't remain in their body after they become a zombie.
  • 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.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Nancy and Ginger to each other in this series.
  • 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.
  • Sanity Slippage: In issue 9, Reggie's guilt over running over Hot Dog and kickstarting the end of the world is so great he starts seeing his dead friends.
  • Satellite Character:
    • Chuck Clayton. One of Archie's best friends, athlete, artist and all-around cool guy. In this story, his entire role is that he's secretly being cuckolded by his girlfriend with another girl, and that's it. And the reader is expected to sympathize with the girls and see Chuck as insensitive over something kept secret from him.
    • Valerie and Melody. They're the Power Trio in the regular comics, with sassy, level-headed Valerie and ditzy sweetheart Melody providing foils to strengthen Josie's personality. In this story they get few lines and are all but interchangeable. Valerie is used more for her race to provide conflict in their backstory (and the conflict is through Josie's eyes and not hers), and is mostly a timid, meek girl who needs her white friend to protect her and give her the strength to fight back. Melody could provide an interesting character (a sweet, scatterbrained vampire?), but hardly does anything except follow Josie's lead.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying!: Or... 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.
  • Spin-Off: Sabrina has her own, sort of, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The two titles share several characters, but they are not directly related to each other.
  • 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.
  • Self-Deprecation: Archie Comics was one of the key instigators of the original Comics Code, which they dropped mere months before the debut of this direct market title, which has almost everything the original Code forbade. It's not exactly subtle. Especially noted by how bloodier and gorier this series is, a first for Archie Comics. The sexual undertones adds to the proverbial middle finger to the now-defunct Comics Code Authority.
  • The Sociopath: Zigzagged in-universe with Reggie, who is qualified for every standard of the test except for his feelings for Midge.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Invoked by Veronica. When Big Ethel goes up to a newly-zombified Jughead to compliment 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.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: Sabrina sparks the zombie plague using the Necronomicon.
    • 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 latter 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 Badass: Most of the characters who aren't infected:
  • 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.
    • Veronica and Polly are much more of a jerk in their interaction with Betty.
    • 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.
  • 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 (who are drawn to resemble Sabrina's aunts when they were younger) to protect the town and everyone in exchange for a child from each of the founding families, over the next three generations.
  • True Companions: The Pussycats, who have stuck together since the 1900s and endured through the various horrors of 20th-21st century America after becoming vampires together.
  • Twincest: In the form of Incest Subtext: Cheryl and Jason Blossom act very intimately towards each other. Jughead's ghost even says they have a "twincest-y vibe".
  • The Unreveal: 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. Although she does mention that she doesn't think she can handle the jokes the male characters, especially Reggie, would thrown at her.
  • Vampire Bites Suck: Being bitten by a vampire is not pleasant. Josie likens to it a rather bestial violation.
  • 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.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The witches of Greendale or Cthulhu itself, depending on your interpretation. The witches promised the town Riverdale will always be protected by "the elder gods, the lords of Carcosa" in exchange for three children from each generation of the founding family. And it was... until the fact Riverdale is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse outbreak through a spell related to awakening Cthulhu sinks in.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The witches of Greendale (who are drawn to resemble Sabrina's aunts when they were younger), 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.