For context, Archie comics started up in 1939. Seeing as how those comic books are still selling in the present, it should come as no surprise to learn that they have see a fair amount of variation over time. As such, while Archie comics tend to be known for being light-hearted fun, there have been plenty of examples of them being rather dark before the live-action adaptation Riverdale. Here are five examples of when Archie comics were dark before Riverdale:
Afterlife with Archie
Afterlife with Archie was centered on a zombie apocalypse started up by Sabrina, who was asked to resurrect Hot Dog by Jughead after he was struck and killed by Reggie in a car. Unfortunately, Hot Dog came back as a zombie with horrific consequences. In a lot of ways, Afterlife with Archie was a seminal series, seeing as how it proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that there was an appetite for darker Archie titles. As such, it is one of the main factors that made the Archie Horror imprint possible, not least because it is a genuinely good horror comic series in its own right.
Archie Meets the Punisher
Archie Meets the Punisher is often cited as one of the stranger crossovers ever seen in Archie comics. After all, the Punisher is famous or perhaps infamous for being a vigilante who will kill, torture, coerce, extort, and more in his campaign on crime, meaning that he isn’t the first Marvel Comics character that one would expect to see in such a project. With that said, said character was toned down to a significant extent, which is why no one was killed in his pursuit of a ruthless Archie lookalike named Red into Riverdale.
Archie vs. Predator
Speaking of crossovers, Archie vs. Predator was the latest in a long time of incidents in which Archie and other Archie characters have met with various pop culture icons. Even thus, when Archie Comics and Dark Horse Comics came together to create it, there were a lot of media publications that expressed various sentiments that can be summed up as shock. Content-wise, Archie vs. Predator wasn’t particularly serious, seeing as how it was saturated with dark humor. However, it was pretty violent, which is perhaps unsurprising when the story saw the titular Predator killing a number of Archie characters and wounding even more. Still, the dark humor ran throughout the whole of the crossover, as shown by the manner in which everything was wrapped up with some sci-fi shenanigans at the very end.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is the primary source of inspiration for the live-action show of the same name. It is one of the series made possible by the success of Afterlife with Archie. Moreover, while it has been called its predecessor’s companion series, there seems to be some kind of in-setting connection as well, as shown by Sabrina’s vision of her other series counterpart. Regardless, what is most relevant is that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a darker interpretation of Sabrina’s story of being a half-witch who must choose between either becoming a full witch or becoming a mortal to focus on the mortal life that she can have with her boyfriend Harvey. Suffice to say that the increased darkness of the interpretation combined with a setting in the 1960s are more than enough to enable Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to stand out in a good way from previous takes.
Life With Archie: The Married Life
Who Archie winds up with is one of the big questions in Archie comics. As a result, it is natural for there to have been Archie comics exploring what would happen if he finally chose between Betty and Veronica. The second volume of Life with Archie: The Married Life featured two storylines based on what would have happened if Archie had chosen either Betty or Veronica. On the whole, they aren’t dark in the sense that they feature a great deal of sex and violence. Instead, they are dark in the sense that they feature a cast of characters dealing with the challenges of adulthood, which can sometimes be rather bruising for those who come into contact with them.