What makes the sometimes erratic publishing schedule of Archie Comics' 'Afterlife with Archie' worth it is once you finally read the latest issue it's so engrossing and satisfying you'll forgive just about anything. It's a testament to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's talent that whether it's this title or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, you're going to get one of hell of a story. This time, he reinvents the backstory of Josie and the Pussycats in this alternate world of horror. It's an extended 40-page issue that delivers an immersive gothic horror tale.
As told to an interviewer, Josie reveals how the world famous band got together and why they keep a low profile despite their immense fame. What follows is a seriously shocking origin story that spans one-hundred years. From Dickensian beginnings to performing at the Super Bowl, you'll never see them the same way again. Not only does Aguirre-Sacasa throw in an expected supernatural twist, he makes it all plausible without a wink to the reader or cute Easter eggs. This is a dead serious re-imagining of the fun pop band driven into Anne Rice territory. 'Afterlife with Archie' sucks you in and you'll gladly succumb to this devilishly wicked interlude.
There's no one better suited to bring this suspenseful tale to life than Francesco Francavilla. A master of the classic pulp horror style, Francavilla creates a very fluid, detailed, and dynamic sequence of panels that heightens the suspense with shadows and close-ups draped in his signature colors - orange, purple, yellow, and red. He's asked to convey the look and style of different eras in our history and does so with great efficiency, capturing iconic moments in time. Even the more controversial events are gingerly addressed without a heavy hand. This the convergence of writer and artist working in unison to bring out the best work of each other.
'Afterlife with Archie' may not come out consistently on time every month but it is consistently great when it does. This interlude, this detour from the main storyline is a welcomed and entertaining venture at world-building. A dark reimagining of Josie and the Pussycats' roots that fits perfectly in the zombie apocalypse aftermath of Riverdale. This extra-sized issue is worth every penny and as powerfully twisted as you'll find from any publisher. It's so good a spin-off series would be totally justified.