In Review: Archie vs. Predator #2

The greatest mash-up that never should have happened! The only thing missing are the paper dolls.

The covers: Inside Pop’s, Archie and his two favorite girls, Betty and Veronica, are on their way to a booth, unaware that behind the counter a Predator is ready to make trophies out of them. Only Betty seems to notice the blood on the floor. I never thought I would see Dan Parent, with Jason Millet, doing a cover like this and it’s terrific. It’s got that classic Archie look, with a Predator that fits that high schooler’s style exactly. In addition to the excellent visuals, the colors are sharp, with some really nice green work done on the alien’s skin. The Variant A cover is a nicely painted cover by Dustin Nguyen showing the gang ready to do battle, armed with a flashlight, a wooden sword, a water pistol, and a water rifle. Plus they’re maybe eleven years old. Below them is a Predator raging, making the four seem as if they came with the wrong weapons to this fight. Cute and neat style I haven’t seen Nguyen use before. The Predator has a foot on an unconscious Archie and looks ready to make a killing blow on the B Variant by Robert Hack with Stephen Downer. However, close by is Veronica wielding a baseball bat, proclaiming, “Back off! Archie’s mine!” Terrific visual with a funny punchline. Now it this pair would do a sequel image and have Betty unzipping herself from the Predator costume. Overall grades: All three A 

The story: The gang is back, safe and sound, in Riverdale after their fun trip to a tropical island. They’re all at Pop’s pounding down some food, with Betty worried that Cheryl Blossom is going to be upset she ruined her borrowed dress on their vacation. While Veronica puts in her two cents, no one notices a triangular red laser beam shining on her back, before focusing on her knife. A friends busts in to tell them that Cheryl and her brother Jason were found killed on the island. Archie and the girls are upset, but Jughead is taken by the huge cake that Pops has just brought to their table. The owner produces a large knife to cut the cake and that’s when a laser blast blows his head off, with most of the blood splashing on Veronica. She screams and they grab her and run into the back to hide while Moose calls 9-1-1. Once there, Betty tells her bestie that she knows what’s going on and they need to get out of there now. Using the bathroom as an excuse, the two exit the building, with the blonde revealing that she thinks they’re being pursued by a supernatural creature and if that’s the case they need to go see Sabrina since her name is in all the weird voodoo books in the library. She further states that she believes this is the result of a Jaguar Curse she put on Veronica to get her away from Archie. Several police cars race by, prompting the pair to think they’re now safe. Oh, if only they knew. This story is perverse glee from Alex de Campi as the R-rated monster does damage to Archie Andrews’ environment and friends. I was not expecting Sabrina to make an appearance in this series, and I’m glad she does, and I was not expecting her to chant a spell that would do H.P. Lovecraft proud. There’s quite a bit of gore, but it’s always paired with a hilarious joke, such as Veronica’s response on Page 11 and the comment in the middle panel at the bottom of 13. Who needs Archie when Betty and Veronica are a fantastic pair as they try to survive the creature’s attacks? When the pair return to the gang it’s doubly funny to see what they’re wearing and the weapons they’re sporting. The crowning joke is the Predator’s ability not to speak as it did in the recent Predator: Fire and Stone series, but in emojis. This was a fantastic mash-up. Overall grade: A+

The art: Utterly fantastic work by penciller Fernando Ruiz and inker Rich Koslowski. This book looks exactly like an Archie comic, but with a Predator and a lot of violence. I love that this pair seamlessly put these two franchises together, with little hints to show the Predator is about, without being explicit; such as with the laser on the opening page. The thermal vision panel on Page 1 is also a great way to show where the unseen antagonist is present without him bursting onto the scene. When the Predator does appear, he looks great. I love his dreadlocks, his armor, and his alien skin. He moves as agilely as he does in any of the films and when he attacks he’s a perfect fright. Archie and the gang look great, with Betty and Veronica being the focus this issue, running or screaming, and trying to look as though they don’t know what’s going on around the others. All that’s missing are paper dolls–for the girls and the Predator. I really like Sabrina’s look on this book, who’s drawn more like her serious version that recently appeared, rather than the classic look she’s had for decades. There are also three pretty violent scenes. They’re perfectly in line for what one would expect for a Predator book, but they may jar you if you’re fan of Riverdale High’s famous class. That said, it’s cartoony violence; it could be much more graphic, but it’s drawn in the style of a classic comic that takes a lot of the heat off, but this ain’t for kids! This is for those who want a dark deliciously drawn dish, and it’s awesome! Overall grade: A+

The colors: Wonderful bright colors throughout this book come courtesy of Jason Millet. The gang is a stand out on every page on they’re on, with their skin being expertly shaded to add some depth to characters I’m used to seeing in a blanket tone. When violence occurs, the panels goes bright red or orange, with sound effects standing out by their shades. The heat vision of the antagonist is very similar to the colors used in the films, making this adventure seem a little more real. And I’m loving Sabrina’s sweet green tinted hair. Millet is a master on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: John Workman provides the dialogue, sounds, the issue’s story title, yells, screams, and the “To Be Continued.” Workman’s skills are exceptional, creating large enough text that ape the oversized lettering of an Archie comic, but not so big as to cover up the details of the art. His sounds are also superior when the big weapons get brought out at the end. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The greatest mash-up that never should have happened! The only thing missing are the paper dolls. Fantastic! Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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