Unlike the eagerly anticipated throwdown with the Engineer over in Predator: Fire and Stone, Archie vs. Predator‘s title bout ranks right down there with Betty White vs. Predator and an Alien/Predator reenactment of 50 Shades of Grey in terms of Predator oriented crossovers I most wanted to see.
I’m just being honest.
I doubt you’ll find many Predator fans who’ll say they were doing backflips when they first heard it would be fumblesome redhead Archie Andrews on the receiving end of the red targeting triangle either.
As we all know though, sometimes odd combinations are the perfect recipe for surprise enjoyment. Charles Barkley vs. Godzilla and the pickleback instantly come to mind. There’s been a bit of a burgeoning Archie resurgence as of late (Afterlife with Archie) too, so what the hell? I’ll give Archie vs. Predator, slated for an April 15th release, its fair shake. Besides, how can you not be at least a little fired up with a solid tongue-in-cheek title page like this:
Bonus points for thermal vision cat-fights. And use of the word ‘maladroit.’
Is it good?
Archie vs. Predator #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Hide your kids and cheeseburgers: Archie and the rest of the Riverdale gang are hitting up Costa Rica for Spring Break. Not familiar with Archie like most people born after Gerald Ford was in office? Imagine your average, mild-mannered teenager — one who’s a little goofy, kinda clumsy, freckle-faced and red-haired. Now imagine that teenager also has the hottest women in high school literally fist fighting for a piece of him at every opportunity for no discernible reason and… wait, why do we like this guy again? (He must be a really good listener.)
All jokes aside, Archie Comics is one of the longest running comic book companies in the business (since 1939) and Archie and the gang are your typical group of teenage friends (except they talk like they’re stuck in the 1940s, never swear and don’t abuse drugs at every opportunity). There’s Archie, relatable everyman; Jughead, his burger-pounding, perpetually hungry best friend; sincere, kind-hearted Betty; snobby Cheryl; materialistic Veronica; haughty Reggie and dorky Dilton.
Writer Alex de Campi does a fine job nailing the characters’ demeanors and antiquated lexicons: phrases like “You heel” and “G’night specs” (in reference to a bespectacled character) get thrown around but she scatters them among mentions of laptops and watered down versions of quotes from/sly nods to the original Predator film — so there’s enough modernity infused for those worried the characters might be too outdated for their liking. de Campi’s narrative is typical Archie teenage shenaniganery and sophomoric drama thus far; there’s flirting and subsequent rejections, romantic triangles, betrayal and catfights but the Predator surveying and stalking the sort of prey that his species’ code of honor usually has him ignore is a surprisingly fresh take and I look forward to seeing more of the hunter’s reactions to the volatile Riverdale crew’s theatrical outbursts.
Artist Fernando Ruiz captures the Archie mood just as well as de Campi writes it. What’s makes that fact even more impressive and perhaps unnerving is when we get to his “Archie-fied” version of the Predator; the iconic bio-mask thermal visions of the Riverdale are cool and all but there’s a scene that’s commensurately jarring and hilarious towards the end where the Predator looms in the treetops right above the group, freshly skinned bodies dripping blood all over the still oblivious group’s heads. There’s something to be said about the horror movie-esque transition as we shift from happy-go-lucky frolicking on the beach sand and impromptu fashion shows to outright butchery; it’s made even more unexpected with the Archie visuals, a flagrant instance of juxtaposition and shows that this series like won’t be pulling any punches in terms of gore and brutality even though we’re entrenched in the sheltered Archie universe.
Is It Good?
Archie vs. Predator #1 is a fun, if subdued first issue of a series that should only grow more intriguing.
It’ll be interesting to see just how far de Campi’s script dials up the violence, how long the characters remain ignorant to the fact that the Predator is among them and how well these elements continue to be integrated in “Archie-style” by Ruiz but so far, so good.