Wait a minute… fumblesome Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones and the rest of the Riverdale crew actually survived an entire issue with the Predator?
Call it plot armor. Or a slacking Predator — but Archie and the gang are back home after getting wasted in Costa Rica for Spring Break. (Note: I don’t think any of them had even a mere drop of alcohol. Also, they’re missing a few of their traveling companions. Permanently.)
Of course… you know who followed them back. And he wants some more annoying teenagers adorning his trophy wall. Is it good?
Archie vs. Predator #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
I said that Archie vs. Predator # 1 was pretty damn fun, but subdued.
This time around Alex de Campi kicks it into high gear. Those of you worried Archie vs. Predator #2 might consist of the Predator stalking Archie and pals as they performed such “riveting” tasks as cavorting at the local laundromat, shopping for groceries, squeezing zits in front of the mirror or spitting game at each other using lingo from my grandparents’ heyday, fret not: There’s plenty of gore, violence and machismo to go around — even though a good chunk of the comic has Betty and Veronica as the leads. (Which has been a lot more interesting than the guys’ perspective, so far.)
I know what you’re thinking: Why would a Predator waste his time hunting Archie when snuffing a paraplegic Aunt May would more likely gain him more street cred among his peers? The answer de Campi provides, the protagonists’ reactions to the Predator (Betty’s in particular) once they realize what they’re dealing with and the slight twists she puts on common tropes regarding others’ modus operandi combine to make the narrative funny and entertaining from start to finish. de Campi’s been dealt an odd hand to work with in this pairing, but so far the routine has been impressive.
As I said earlier, de Campi doesn’t skimp on the violence either. Burgers and dessert at the gang’s local hangout turns bloodbath real quick and doesn’t let up from there, but I have to admit — I’m still not quite fully invested in our “heroes” because of the aforementioned plot armor and the fact that people of far more formidable stature have already been brutally murdered five minutes after the opening credits of the Predator films. Then again, this is Archie we’re talking about. You’re not here for the insight or intricacy. You’re here for the spectacle; the lightheartedness punctuated by moments of inhuman carnage; to say you saw them actually pull off the hodgepodge that is Archie vs. Predator. The way I see it now, which has me feeling satisfied by issue’s end: like Jason Voorhees suddenly showing up in the Saved by the Bell universe and gutting Mr. Belding in the hallway between classes. “Hey hey hey! What is go–” ::inhuman shrieking sounds:: Just go with it.
Fernando Ruiz’s art is still done entirely and deliberately in Archie-style, which might be off-putting to some Predator fans at first; notwithstanding, the overall experience is still grisly and the Predator is no less frightening despite the lackluster opponents/ambience. Maybe it’s the eyeball or jawbone fragments sent hurtling through the air on a wave of crimson after a plasma cannon shot. Maybe it’s the way the usually valley-girl fresh, high-maintenance Betty and Veronica are constantly drenched in the blood of the recently gutted. (There’s one scene involving a familiar guest-star that should classify as a “Oh s--t!” moment for most.) In any case, it works and the Predator doesn’t seem out of place aesthetically speaking when he’s getting to work either.
Is It Good?
Archie vs. Predator #2 kicks the narrative into high gear and despite not taking itself too seriously remains brutal and gruesome enough to keep Predator fans sated. Another surprisingly strong issue that has me looking forward to the next. Worth a look for fans of both series.