5) Dilton Figures It Out
Ever the genius, Dilton Doiley realizes what is going on right away. So it's just a matter of time before Dilton's scientific curiosity gets the best of him and he begins to attempt to find a cure. This is where things can get potentially very exciting. Will Dilton maintain his level-headed exterior and be able to do his research detached from the chaos that surrounds him? Or will he turn into Riverdale's equivalent of Dr. Logan from Day of the Dead, a man who loses his humanity in the pursuit of science? Given the creative team's shared love for horror films, my money is on the latter. One thing is for certain, given the popularity of Afterlife with Archie thus far, there won't be any easy solution for the zombie problem anytime soon. Oh man, I hope he keeps Jughead zombie as a pet. Speaking of which...
The ballsiest move in the comic so far is the first-issue death of Jughead. As anyone familiar with Samm Schwartz's work with the character will be quick to point out, Jughead is a smart, mischievous schemer of a character who is more than just about hating girls and loving food. To remove such a loyal and beloved character from the action right away by killing him creates a creative void in the story that will be difficult to fill.
The brilliant joke at work here is that zombie Jughead is just as hungry as his human counterpart, just for brains as opposed to burgers. It's a great gag, but it remains to be seen how the death of Forsythe P. Jones will ultimately effect the story at large. The fact that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa would even attempt such a thing illustrates the daring nature of this project. For more of my thoughts on this, see the first entry on this list.
3) Ginger and Nancy's Relationship
As a pointed contrast to the seemingly perfect life of Kevin Keller, the relationship between Ginger Lopez and Nancy Woods in Afterlife with Archie illustrates a more complicated take on the gay experience. In the mainstream Archie continuity, these characters have never been very developed. But here? Their stories are so compelling that you kind of wish the zombie mayhem would slow down a bit so that their subplot would have more time to develop.
You see, along with fighting off legions of community members who want to eat their brains, Ginger and Nancy struggle with issues like coming out of the closet and learning to love. They are also completely badass. In the third issue, Ginger and Nancy kill zombified versions of Jughead's father and Pop Tate before torching the Choklit Shoppe and taking off on a motorcycle to attempt to rescue their families. It's a cinematic moment that evokes Robert Rodriguez's best work and achingly romantic as well. Whether or not Ginger and Nancy's love is strong enough to survive the dangers that surround them... well, that's another story entirely.
2) Hilda and Zelda
If you only know Sabrina's aunts from the TGIF sitcom based on Archie's "Teenage Witch," you are in for a shock. The Hilda and Zelda of Afterlife with Archie are a mixture of mischief and malice. They've only appeared twice so far - once to banish Sabrina to a hellish limbo after she helped kickstart the zombie chaos that consumes Riverdale, and another time in flashback sequence in which they creepily predict that he child of Hermione and Hiram Lodge will be a girl - but they have already left quite the impact. It seems that these two are the traditional witches of your childhood nightmares whose normal appearance is just masking their sinister true selves.
I suspect that they may want the world to burn, and a confrontation between them and Sabrina will almost certainly be in the cards a few issues from now. This is pure speculation on my part, but there's no way that these two aren't going to take on more evil roles as the story advances.
1) The Body Count
Spoiler alert! Hot Dog. Jughead. Jughead's parents. Mr. Weatherbee. Ms. Grundy. Big Ethel. Big Moose. Midge. Vegas. So far all of these beloved characters - and Archie's recently introduced dog -have fallen victim to Riverdale's zombie apocalypse. These deaths (along with the fact that the second story cycle is called "R.I.P. Betty") prove that Aguirre-Sacasa is trying to up the dramatic stakes. He's not just picking off characters for shock value either. For the most part, the zombification of characters has been used as a tool to advance the story and build upon the increasing eeriness of each subsequent issue.
Afterlife with Archie's main mission statement was to create a new type of Archie comic unlike any seen before. Mission accomplished. I can't wait to see where things go from here.
Previously by Chris Cummins