In Review: Archie vs. Predator II #2

This will probably be my last issue for this series.

The covers: Six different far-out frontpieces to pick up. The Main cover is by Robert Hack with Kelly Fitzpatrick. The “friendly” Predator has torn off his Archie face mask to reveal his true visage. He steps out of a car in front of Pop’s hoisting up his shoulder blaster on his left. He looks at the reader to warn them back. Whether this is because of his weapon or the fries and soda he’s storing on the door is unknown. The character’s jacket is a little too smudgy for me, but the rest of this looks good, especially the neon colors on Pop’s. The first Variant cover is by Howard Chaykin with Wil Quintana. Sitting inside Pop’s, an armored Predator sits at a table holding a massive blade in his right hand. He’s got his left on a small table where a red drink has spilled. Were it not for the glass, one might think it’s blood. Heck, it still could be. Outside the window Archie and Veronica are seen racing down the street from the alien. It’s Chaykin and Quintana, that’s reason enough to pick this up! The Bill Galvan with Ben Galvan & J.J. Harrison Variant is the only cover that looks like a true Archie Comics cover. A night at the beach with Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica is interrupted by a Predator that leaps from a hill toward Archie. The hero staggers backwards to avoid the blow from the baddie, the girls in the foreground are frightened, while Jughead continues to eat his burger. Love the artwork and the coloring, with some cool violets to create the night sky. The Rebekah Isaacs with Matt Herms Variant has Archie looking pretty badass. He’s wearing a Predator’s shirt and is holding the iconic creature’s mask in his right arm. His left hand is held up, wielding the monster’s double wrist blades, which have a Predator’s head and spine on them. The characters look great — I love the look on Archie’s face — and the colors are killer, with that phosphorescent green blood perfect. The Greg Smallwood Variant is the cover I picked up for its twist on a classic theme. The logo is the top third of the cover on red with small versions of both title characters in the upper right (Archie looks worried being so close to the Predator). In a park, the Predator smiles as he strolls along with Betty on one arm and Veronica on the other. In the background, Archie has his hands on his hips in frustration, while Jughead indifferently eats a burger. This is my kind of cover! The final Variant is by Michael Walsh, which has a large image of the Predator looking forward colored in dark blues. Within the lower half of his body are Predator-vision versions of Archie, Veronica, and Jughead. The entire image is on a bright red background. This is okay, but doesn’t wow me. Overall grades: Main B+, Chaykin Variant A, Galvan Variant A, Isaacs Variant A+, Smallwood Variant A+, and Walsh Variant C

The story: Last issue the three survivors from the previous series, Betty, Veronica, and a Predator (disguised as Archie), entered the classic Archie Universe, where they’ve come face-to-face with their counterparts, including Jughead and Dilton. The larger group is on their way to the Halloween Dance at the Riverdale High gym. There is some fun dialogue from writer Alex di Campi, especially when it comes to relationships on Page 3. How one of the characters is able to convince her counterpart that they are real on the fifth page is hilarious. Page 6 has one character decide to show his true face and I was surprised how smoothly the rest of the gang took this revelation. I continue to find the Predator’s communication extremely funny and I like how his emojis had to be translated by a new, yet familiar, character. They gang ends up going to the dance, naturally, and that’s when five Predator ships land in front and their occupants go in. The carnage begins with costumed characters falling left and right to the aliens. The book ends with several characters entering the fray, leaving readers thirty days to wonder how creative Campi will be with the chaos. This was an okay read, better than the previous issue, with some fun lines, but it’s still too serious. The first series was successful because it was campy. This isn’t as much, and that’s hurting the enjoyment. Overall grade: B-

The art: Robert Hack’s art is just not working for me. Yes, I’m going to make a comparison to the first series. The series from Dark Horse was drawn looking like an Archie comic. This looks like a horror comic. The visual insanity of seeing the classic characters involved in so much gore is lost. The artwork is also too messy and unfinished. Look at Pages 2 and 3. There aren’t backgrounds, the characters aren’t finished, and elements of the characters are uneven — hands too small, hands too large, heads smashed. Several characters have Steve Ditko hands, which is when a character raises their hands up and their fingers are spread open, save the middle and fourth digits which are touching. It’s noticeable and became distracting because I started expecting it. There are a lot of instances of when the backgrounds are drawn the windows are slapdash shaded. It’s incredibly distracting. The same can also be said of Predator-Archie’s shirt, which looks like he’s an auto mechanic more so than an undercover alien. The costumes the kids are wearing at the dance are fun, with several easily identifiable. I really liked seeing the couple dancing in the sixth panel on 13. The arrival of the ships on the next two pages come across as blurry images, which is disappointing. This should be a moment for the reader to savor, instead they’ll be straining to discern the ships’ construction. The close-up that starts 16 is just not good. Is that eyeliner? How fat is that face? The large panel on 19 is good, with the horror and panic strong. I do like the lone panel that’s underneath it, with someone not doing so well. Overall grade: D

The colors: The work by Kelly Fitzpatrick is just too dark in several panels, making the art indecipherable. I will say that when there are not backgrounds drawn, Fitzpatrick uses incredibly bright colors to make the focus fall on the characters. That said, it’s a little jarring to start with such an incredibly dark opening page and then find oranges, yellows, and pinks confronting the reader. The first too dark panel occurs when Predator-Archie does something to a car. When the Predator takes off his mask, he’s so darkly colored he’s a smudge. He just becomes a blob on the page every time he appears. This should not be done to this character. The frivolity at the dance gets some good colors, but when the antagonists arrive, it’s just goes dark again. The penultimate panel of the book is just worthless because of the colors. If I can’t see the artwork, why was it bothered to be done in the first place? Overall grade: D-

The letters: Jack Morelli is responsible for the book’s dialogue, signage, Predator emojis, the chapter titles, yells, and sounds. The signage really stands out from the art, looking as if they don’t belong in the same panel. The letters are cleaner looking than the characters. The chapter titles are fun, but the Predator emojis are terrific. The reader will be able to translate these pictograms as the book progresses. The sounds are great, adding to the horrors. Overall grade: B+

The final line: This will probably be my last issue for this series. It’s not as funny as the previous series and the visuals are an absolute detriment to the reading experience. Maybe my hopes were too high. Regardless, this is a messy looking book, where the covers outshine the interiors. I would suggest perusing before purchasing. Overall grade: C-

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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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