I really loved the latest issue of "Afterlife with Archie" that came out some weeks ago. It took me until recently to read it but once I did I had two major thoughts, "This is incredibly good," and "This really reminds me of 'Fatale', and is actually how I wish 'Fatale' had been." Should this thinking confuse you or seem weird to compare two seemingly very different comics I'll explain. Basically, its all about the creeping sense of horror.
So Much Tension That It Eventually Got Boring
"Fatale" featured a female protagonist named Josephine with scary powers (in this case the ability to basically mind-control men and recover from any injury whilst not aging) who was trying to escape from an evil cult that seemed to worship a variety of horrifying Cthulhu-styled creatures. It jumped around in time, and despite starting out promising I found myself growing bored with it. I ended-up quitting the comic around the point it had jumped-forward in time from what was arguably the "main" story to a tale about Seattle in the 1990's.
|I did like the earlier issues.|
Not the Kind of Dream Wedding Most People Hope For, But Delightful For A Reader
This may sound quite different from "Fatale", but in this issue there are many similarities. The issue features a female protagonist with scary powers (magic), who is trying to escape from a sort of asylum run by an evil cult that worships Cthulhu. See how that sort of links up? There are little things too, like how the motif in "Fatale" of people seeing creepy things for a split-second before "reality" sets back in happens a bunch in this issue of "Afterlife", which was in fact one of the first things that made me start thinking of "Fatale". From my noticing how this was like "Fatale" I started to see how it did something very well that I've made clear "Fatale" did not--the tension-building.
The issue opens with Sabrina describing a nightmarish dream to Doctor Lovecraft (see what they did there?) and continues from there as we see her in the institution. Sabrina is trying to figure out why everything seems off, and if this strange belief that she is actually a witch is true or some delusion--as she has been informed as such by folk at her establishment of forced housing. As the issue continues a sense of palpable dread and fear grows and grows until a heck of an ending where Sabrina learns the truth is she is a witch that the Doctor's snatched from the nether-realm and is to be the bride of none other than Cthulhu himself. Yeah, not the kind of dream-wedding most people hope for, but delightful for a reader.
Whereas with "Fatale" I was putting up with issue-after-issue of a feeling of fear and trouble, nothing too big actually really occurred (yes, there were some smaller pay-offs, but not a "wow" moment like "Afterlife" contained). Meanwhile, in a single issue of "Afterlife with Archie", writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa expertly started things out with a creepy vibe, built up my worry and fear for Sabrina, and ended with a huge bang. If any issue of "Fatale" had been as good as this single one of "Afterlife with Archie" I probably would have gladly stuck with it till the end.
I've sounded negative about "Fatale" but it was a perfectly good comic, it just got grating after awhile. At least the art in "Afterlife" is incredible thanks to Franco Francavilla, and Sean Philip's work in "Fatale" was top-notch too, so both books are beautiful; it just in the end comes down to the story the comics have been telling. While most of "Afterlife with Archie" has had more of a strange "Walking Dead"-type feel, this check-in with Sabrina was full-tilt Cthulhu and Elder Gods-styled. Therefore, trying to compare other issues of "Afterlife" to "Fatale" would be a bit silly, but works wonderfully for this issue.
|Usually "Afterlife with Archie" has more zombie-smashing than Cthulhu|
5 out of 5 (for the sixth issue of "Afterlife with Archie").