Afterlife With Archie #5 ReviewJune 3, 2014
Afterlife With Archie #5 puts the spotlight on Smithers, butler of the Lodge mansion, as we see him operate behind the scenes — being invisible and yet indispensable, as his father taught him to be since childhood. Smithers takes note of everything that’s going on around him, making his guests as comfortable as possible while doing everything he can to keep the Lodge family and their friends safe. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa manages to take one of the most one-dimensional characters in the Archie universe — a universe known for its one-note characters – and imbue him with some complex layers and humanity.
We see Smithers using his ninja-like (and kind of creepy) stealth to learn about the drama unfolding in the Lodge household, between Nancy, Chuck and Ginger, Reggie and Kevin, and of course Archie, Betty and Veronica. When Mr. Lodge argues with Archie about whether to stay at the well-stocked mansion or head out to somewhere safer, Smithers breaks his butler’s code, and speaks up to take Archie’s side. He shares with Mr. Lodge a tragic story about his father’s time in the war, which provides the motivation necessary to bring him over to Archie’s cause. Archie comes up with a plan to use stocked-up fireworks to distract the zombies away from the household long enough for them to make an exit.
As Afterlife With Archie #5 wraps up the “Escape from Riverdale” storyline, the narrative grows increasingly dark. Aguirre-Sacasa manages to make these characters realistically complex and human, making it all the more unsettling when they meet a tragic end. There are some dangling plot threads by the end of the issue, but no worries – from all the hype and critical acclaim this series has been getting, I don’t see it ending anytime soon.