Archie vs. Predator #1 (Dark Horse)

Not a hoax! Not an imaginary story! Comics’ eternal teenager and his gang of goofy friends face off against the galaxy’s greatest hunter in this surreal crossover. 



32 pgs. full color; $3.99
(W: Alex de Campi; P: Fernando Ruiz; I: Rich Koslowski; C: Jason Millet)
Just as Abbott & Costello “met” every monstrous screen icon in the late 1940s and early 1950s for Universal Pictures, the overseers of the Archie Empire are bound and determined to set America’s favorite teen against modern-day icons of the here and now. Whether or not this makes sense to the average reader seems beside the point; in fact, the less sense the matchups make, the more eye-catching they seem to be. Expanding the brand has paid off handsomely for these guys, creatively speaking, with such titles as the amazing horror-themed side projects Afterlife with Archie and Sabrina.
Previously facing off against rock band KISS, and before that, Marvel’s The Punisher, Riverdale’s teens are now noggin-to-dreadlocked noggin with Predator. No, that isn’t a typo, and when I say “Predator,” I’m not talking about Mr. Weatherbee engaged in some wacky Halloween shenanigans. The story begins innocently enough; just after getting some shade thrown their way by private school douchebags Cheryl and Jason, Jughead wins the gang a trip to a private island in Costa Rica, courtesy of a bag of potato chips.
Once they arrive, the old familiar relationships and character quirks bubble to the surface, albeit with a few 21st century updates. The sexual double-entendres are a little more front and center, and a tiff between Betty and Veronica ends up with the former suffering a bloody nose, which was probably the most surprising visual element, given the classic look. However, what that serves to do is usher in a slight change of tone so our otherworldly Schwarzenegger-chasing alien can be introduced. When the gang come back home, it would appear they’ve brought back more than just their luggage. Did I happen to mention that the Predator’s digital readout mask communicates using EMOJI? It totally does.
So how is it? Alex de Campi’s script successfully manages to keep the personalities of our timeless teens intact, while making the Predator aspect seem like just another crazy challenge for the gang. Fernando Ruiz’s pencils combine his unique style with the classic Dan DeCarlo elements, while Jason Millet’s colors flesh everything out, capturing Riverdale’s boldness and the falling shadows that loom on the horizon. Issue one of this four-parter ends with a nifty Sabrina piece, which Sab-O-Nauts will embrace wholeheartedly. Collectors should note that there will be variant covers by Eric Powell (The Goon) and Francesco Francavilla (Afterlife with Archie).
My only hope is that the climax of this story includes Miss Beazley and Mr. Svenson finally taking their proper place at the forefront of this story, squaring off with Predator in front of Pop Tate’s, and high-fiving the shit out of each other as they fly away in a helicopter to throw down with some other beastly malcontent. In my fantasy fan world, IDW will give the duo their own spinoff series with their own X-Files–type book. If that happens, they will make me an instant subscriber. Hey, anything can happen in comics, right? | Jim Ousley

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