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Archie's Zombie Apocalypse is Scarier Than it has Any Right to Be

Warning! Spoilers for Afterlife With Archie

The zombie apocalypse of Riverdale in Afterlife With Archie is a better story for the season than than it has any right to be. There is a wide selection of comics fit for Halloween, but the critically acclaimed Archie Horror limited series is among the best.

Archie’s entry into the horror genre in 2013 reimagined the stories that the label could tell. Afterlife With Archie spanned 10 issues, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with art by Francesco Francavilla. Not long after, other Archie Horror titles such as Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Jughead: The Hunger began, continuing to produce the dark and mature storylines that hadn’t been attributed to the publisher before. Although Afterlife broke new ground, the zombie apocalypse of Riverdale has been overlooked and deserves more attention, especially around this time of the year.

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When zombies invade the small town of Riverdale, Archie Andrews and his friends become the center of a nostalgic horror film. Considering Archie Comics had always been a teen drama at the core, the monster movie backdrop feels surprisingly organic. After Reggie hits Jughead’s dog, Hot Dog, with his car, the teenager reaches out to Sabrina Spellman in hopes that she can bring him back. Inevitably, the spell goes wrong and creates a zombified Hot Dog, biting the mournful Jughead and kicking off the apocalypse. Going after the only friends he knows, Jughead is quick to spread the infection to other teenagers from Riverdale High.

As Archie leads Betty and Veronica among others, they go on an adventure that mirrors horror films like Cabin in the Woods, which capitalized on horror tropes and archetypes. Eventually, several key Riverdale characters become affected and turn into zombies, including Principal Weatherbee, Pop, Ethel, Ms. Grundy, and many others. Although it wasn’t Aguirre-Sacasa’s intention according to a response to a reader’s letter, the alternate reality is reminiscent of the animated series Archie’s Weirdest Mysteries, which took Riverdale in a supernatural direction. Often caught up in high school drama, Archie’s transition to a serious and frightening storyline elevates the characters and plot lines that audiences know. Archie is forced to make life and death decisions at every turn, determining the fate of his zombified family and friends.

The violent story intended for a mature audience doesn’t hold back, as Archie wields a baseball bat to take out zombies of those he once knew. The limited series sees many bizarre and disturbing moments, as Jughead leads the pact of the undead. Even Sabrina’s comics haven’t pushed the envelope to the extent that Afterlife With Archie had in its 10 issues.

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