In Review: Archie vs. Predator #1

This is oh-so wrong, yet oh-so right. It has to be read to be believed.

The covers: The Standard cover by Fernando Ruiz, Rich Koslowski, and Jason Millet has a great shot of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Reggie on a tropical island. Archie is holding a surfboard, ready to hit the beach. If only he noticed the three red lights over his heart which are tell-tale signs of a Predator taking aim on its prey. High above the gang is a large, threatening Predator head. These two franchises don’t belong together, but I have to admit to being really excited about where this could possibly go. Excellent art by Ruiz and Koslowski, making this cover look like it was drawn by classic Archie illustrator Dan Parent. The colors are classic kid bright from Millet, with the Predator shaded sinisterly. Well done. Variant cover A is by Eric Powell. This cracks me up. It has no reason to do so, since it’s pretty grisly–the Predator holding up the severed head of Jughead, complete with Xs over the character’s eyes; a hamburger with a single bite lies at the creature’s feet. A superior Predator by Powell and a tremendously funny Mr. Jones. I love this. The B Variant is by Francesco Francavilla and has Archie emerging from a river, using an overgrown tree to hide his location. He’s wearing his Riverdale High sweater and a sporting a spear. Anything that comes his way, he’s ready for. Unfortunately he doesn’t see the helmeted Predator above him during the downpour, unaware of the talons about to grasp him. Exciting image, that’s just as wrong as the A Variant, but feels oh-so right. Overall grades: Standard A+, Variant A A+,and Variant B A-

The story: This is a deliciously fun story that follows the typical plotline of any Archie comic, albeit with an alien killer added. The book opens with the gang wondering what they’ll do over spring break. Stuck up snob Cheryl Blossom rubs it in their faces that she will be going yachting on the Caribbean. Her gloating soon disappears when Jughead opens a bag of chips to reveal that he has won a luxury beach vacation courtesy of Tayto-Chips. At Los Perdidos, which is Spanish for The Lost, Resort the gang takes in their surroundings with the usual conflicts from their personalities: Reggie wants to get with Veronica, Veronica wants to be the best dressed, Jughead is hungry, Betty wants Archie, and Archie finds himself torn between his two girls. This high school drama takes a pause when each wishes on a falling star, which is actually the Predator’s ship. This is a seamless blend of both franchises, with the Predator barely in the book, though two characters do fall to his grisly hobby. The jokes are the traditional Archie shtick, with some really funny lines in the second and fourth panels on 6, the bottom of 8 (with the last being hysterical), the fifth panel on 17, the rumble on 18, and the issue’s final line. I don’t know where this is going, but Alex de Campi has gained a major fan with this story. Overall grade: A

The art: Perfect illustrations by artist Fernando Ruiz and inker Rich Koslowski, aping the look of an Archie comic. The characters look exactly as you’d expect them: Archie fawning, Betty pining, Veronica jealous, and Jughead drooling. It’s the oldest trope in the book, but when Archie got hearts for eyes as he looked upon Veronica’s beauty I felt so much nostalgia. It was like I was twelve again. I also liked that the girls had a fashion show, which was something that all the Betty and Veronica books had. All that was missing was the credit on each outfit to the reader that sent it in. I’m a sucker for circle panels, since it also creates a classic comic feel, and this book has two, and I loved both of them. The Predator’s intrusion into this nostalgia trip was subtle, on Page 14, and I liked that its heat vision was used to show that it was looking at certain characters. The heart monitoring was a nice touch. I laughed out loud at the inappropriate shower that was occurring on Pages 19 and 20, and how no one noticed, save Moose who said nothing! This is wonderful looking. Overall grade: A

The colors: There are two ways this book could have gone for coloring: bright and bold, like an Archie comic, or dark and threatening, like a Predator comic. This book is spectacularly bright, colored by Jason Millet, and it was definitely the correct choice. By having this dynamically colored, the book feels more Archie than Predator, making the deadly action that happens funnier. However, this book is not colored solely with primary colors, as I remember back in the day. Millet gives this book a professional, modern feel by shading the characters and settings in the modern standard. Look at the highlights he places in characters’ flesh throughout, with Cheryl being the initial standout on Page 1. The Predator is given dull colors, making it stand apart from the gang, but when blood falls, it is starkly crimson. Sounds are also heightened by color, as are the alien’s heat scans of the teens. Excellent work throughout. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The uber-famous John Workman provides dialogue, sounds, winning tickets, a proclamation as the ship lands, outbursts, yells, pirate shanties, heavy breathing, and a stomach’s sounds. The lettering has that classic thin line work which only re-emphasizes the classic look of this book. But where’s the classic Predator font to accompany his heat scans? That’s one detail that’s missing, though it’s not Workman’s prerogative to add it unless the writer tells him to. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is oh-so wrong, yet oh-so right. It has to be read to be believed. Delicious teen nostalgia mixed with modern day aliens. Seriously, check this out. 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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