Have we reached peak zombie saturation yet? I know it’s Walker Week here at The Nerds of Color, and if the ratings for the season premiere of The Walking Dead are any indication, the zombie craze is just as viral as ever — and it’s spreading. The image you see above is a zombified Jughead from Archie. And no, that’s not a fan rendering either. It’s an actual panel from one of the hottest single issues in comics today, the sold out — and on its second printing — Afterlife with Archie #1. That’s right, the zombie apocalypse has come to Riverdale.
Seeing zombies overrun Archie Comics got me thinking about the zombie crossovers that infected the Big Two comic companies: DC Comics and Marvel.
Back in 2005, a couple years after he started his run on The Walking Dead for Image, Robert Kirkman was invited into the Marvel bullpen to write a mini-series in which a zombie virus infects the heroes of an alternate Marvel Universe. The initial Marvel Zombies mini was actually a spinoff out of the events of a Mark Millar-penned story arc in Ultimate Fantastic Four.
Needless to say, but zombie versions of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and other Marvel heroes and villains were such a big success that the company followed up the original mini with no fewer than ten sequels and spin-offs, including a inter-company crossover with Dynamite Entertainment and the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness protagonist Ash.
Not to be outdone by their bitter rivals across town, DC Comics got in to the zombie game in 2009 with its “Blackest Night” series of crossovers and mega events. Spinning out of the previous crossover and mega event “Sinestro Corps Wars” — remember this was 2009, when DC seemingly only published Green Lantern stories — “Blackest Night” had the DC Universe battling Nekron, who attempts to resurrect dead DC heroes with black power rings.
Nevermind the problematic fact that the whole storyline revolved around Hal Jordan having to don a “White Power” ring to dispatch Nekron and revive the dead heroes who were heretofore under the influence of the evil “Black Power” rings, “Blackest Night” was Geoff Johns’ excuse to have Ivan Reis draw undead versions of fan favorites such as Batman, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter. But yeah, “White Power” defeating “Black Power?” I guess #DCFail predates the New 52 after all.
And now, after contaminating our favorite superheroes, the zombie plague has unleashed itself on the world of Archie and his friends. Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa — the Glee producer who also wrote the Archie Meets Glee crossover earlier this year and is the screenwriter behind the Carrie remake opening this weekend — and drawn by Francesco Francavilla, Afterlife with Archie shows what happens when a botched spell by Sabrina the Teenaged Witch causes the zombie apocalypse, with Jughead at the center. This is definitely not the Archie you grew up with!
And to demonstrate just how potent the zombie virus truly is, the first issue of Afterlife sold out at Diamond in less than five hours! Since its publication last week, acquiring copies of the issue have proved harder than finding your way out of a Big Lots overrun with Walkers.
Anyway, here is your chance to let the Nerds know which of these zombie crossovers did it best. Vote in the poll below, and we’ll let you know which comic book company has zombie hordes on lock. In the meantime, be sure to check back later today for a special all-undead episode of Hard N.O.C. Life with special guest Phil Yu!