Escape from Riverdale, Part 4 [of 5]: With two more members of our beloved gang infected by the dreadful zombie-virus, Riverdale’s one sanctuary—Lodge Mansion—has been compromised. The kids are left to make a significant decision—do they stay and fight or flee the only town they’ve ever known? Meanwhile, Archie makes a horrific discovery in his own home, one that may cost him his life! It’s red-headed teen versus gruesomely undead canine in the latest chapter of this ground-breaking TEEN + series! Definitely NOT for all ages!
Okay I am a horror comic fan and I have to admit, many months ago when I first saw ads for this series, I thought this was one of those really cool geeky mash-ups but the idea of the zombie apocalypse hitting the seemingly eternal youth of Riverdale wouldn’t work at all.
Boy was I wrong.
Let’s not talk about the undead for a moment – let’s just look at the writing. Author Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa approached the Riverdale squad with a much more serious lens giving them the sort of depth that I believe makes these 70+ year old characters relatable and relevant to the readers today. In this issue, through a series of flashbacks and insight into canine thoughts, Aquirre-Sacasa creates a subplot that describes the life-long friendship and loyalty between Archie and his dog Vegas. This is not necessarily the biggest revelation or plot twist, but through his writing the author makes the reader buy into Archie and Vegas as relevant protagonists, not just one-line caricatures. Aquirre-Sacasa is also able to expertly write the drama on two scales of the story, seamlessly moving between both the overall series-wide arc (undead army attacks) and the drama of a single scene (Archie and his mom escaping a bedroom) and moving both scales forward.
I also have crush on Francesco Francavilla’s art. However it is you want to describe his art: Pulp-retro, noir-esque, dark-mooded – it’s nothing short of brilliant and amazing and it is the perfect framework for this story of a supernatural disaster through individual eyes. Bonus: Zombie Jughead is pretty Kick-ass!
The Bottom Line: Mix up a fresh relatable take on multi-generational iconic characters, excellent plot development / scaffolding and visuals that are both spooky and beautiful – and you have a book that will amaze even the most skeptic of horror fans.
I cannot wait for the next issue!