Comic books

Archie goes PG-13 for first time as zombies invade Riverdale

Aug. 8, 2013 at 11:43 AM ET

Afterlife with Archie No. 1
Archie Comics
An unfortunate Betty confronts Riverdale's zombie apocalypse on a variant cover of Afterlife with Archie No. 1. Art by Andrew Pepoy.

The zombie apocalypse is coming, and it's starting in Riverdale.

The first issue of the new ongoing Archie Comics series "Afterlife with Archie" is set to be released Oct. 9. Written by “Glee” writer/producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, this zombie series features Archie and the gang like you've never seen them before. This post-apocalyptic Riverdale is bloody, gory, and a little PG-13.

Influenced by horror classics such as “Evil Dead,” “The Stand,” and “The Walking Dead,” Aguirre-Sacasa combines his love of Archie and the horror genre in “Afterlife with Archie,” the title of which is a play on the long-standing “Life with Archie” series.

"This series came out of conversations with [Archie Co-CEO] Jon Goldwater, asking questions like, 'What if the Archie characters found themselves in a Stephen King novel or a Sam Raimi movie?'" Aguirre-Sacasa said.

In the first ever direct market-only, non-all-ages Archie title, the Riverdale teens are up against some pretty gruesome situations. The initial story arc, entitled "Escape From Riverdale" dives right into the horror with a terrible accident that leads to a series of grim events. Sabrina the Teenage Witch makes an appearance as she frantically tries to repair the unspeakable evil she has inadvertently unleashed. And of course, the ever-hungry Jughead and his pet, Hot Dog, become the first to be infected and turned into zombies.

The second arc, "Betty RIP," leaves very little to the imagination concerning the plotline.

Perhaps fans aren't quite prepared for their beloved characters to enter the realm of the undead, but Aguirre-Sacasa believes that the time is right to bring zombies into Archie Andrews' universe.

"Zombies are eternal. They're like dinosaurs. People love them, people have always loved them, people will hopefully always love them," he told Newsarama. "Archie Comics has flirted with the undead over the years. The 'Archie’s Weird Mysteries' animated series. Most recently, 'Archie Meets KISS' and [series artist] Francesco Francavilla's brilliant variant cover to Life with Archie magazine No. 23 — but this just feels like, 'Right rime, right place, right zombie apocalypse.'"

With its Halloween month release, “Afterlife with Archie” should play to the heightened seasonal interest in zombies and horror. But will this vast departure from the normally wholesome tone of classic Archie comics hold with audiences? Aguirre-Sacasa seems to think so:

"It's a big deal for Archie to be launching a new ongoing title, so it has to be something big, and bold, and unlike anything else they're putting out into the world."

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