Written by: Matt Molgaard
There will always be a very real, very genuine charm about Archie. And there will always be a very unanimous love for the ruthless Predator. While Archie’s roots are planted much deeper than that of the Predator, they’re both adored in a way that few other culturally relevant figures are in today’s society. That’s what you call certified longevity. You don’t reach the level of popularity that these two have without unwavering, loyal fandom.
And they deserve it.
They also deserved to meet (in some medium) in a heated confrontation.
They deserved this meeting the way two lovers on two separate sides of the globe deserve to meet, at least once. They deserved it because it places both figures in a strange and atypical amalgamation of creativity that both brands benefit and grow from. They deserved this meeting because we deserved this meeting. Even if we never expected it.
And you know what? Not only did we get it, and not only was it well received by fans, it was actually an absurdly entertaining story that had every last page begging to be turned. Alex De Campi did a marvelous job of juggling humor and horror, innocence and savagery. The constant nods to the history of both characters is amazing. The general flow of the tale just works on so many levels.
Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead (and the remainder of the group we all love from the classic Archie Comics) get together for a spring break little vacation. A little time in the sun and sand, to be a bit more precise, as Jughead, while feasting (on a bag of chips) as is his custom, wins a surprise, all expenses paid trip to the alluring Los Perdidos Resort. Once on the beach the friction between Veronica and Betty reaches gritty heights as the two tangle for Archie’s love. Betty comes out on the losing end of a fist fight (yeah, these ladies are punching each other in the face these days, and we love it!) and heads out into the brush for some time to cool off. While out and about she stumbles upon a shrine that houses all sorts of nifty artifacts. Betty, a pure dame if ever there was one, accidentally (we won’t spoil every detail for you, but trust this: Betty doesn’t intentionally steal anything) finds herself in possession of an ancient blade, and that sets off a series of events that will change the lives of a half dozen fun-loving innocent kids from suburbanite America… or Riverdale.
Speaking of Riverdale, the group makes an early return after failing to find amusement in their foreign surroundings, especially given the animosity swirling about the group. But there’s no warm welcome in Riverdale. Rather, there’s a menacing figure following the bunch – a Predator – who wants that damn blade back, bad; bad enough to slaughter the entire group to regain what is his.
That’s right folks, just about every single character that you love from the Archie universe meets a brutal and graphic demise in the pages of Archie vs. Predator.
And impact of those endings are all the more powerful as a result of Fernando Ruiz’s honest artwork. Ruiz keeps the vintage Archie look alive on page, and he makes things very interesting by adapting the look of the Predator to fit appropriately inside of this universe. The fact that we get some very gruesome illustrations in this very format feels strangely conflicting while absurdly enjoyable, simultaneously. It isn’t easy to generate such a mixed emotional response from fans, but Ruiz does so with his artwork, and De Campi’s extreme tonal balance is a thing of beauty.
Archie vs. Predator feels like a book that could never in a million years exist, and yet it does. Not only does it exist, it shines like no one’s business. This is a terrific contribution to the world of comics and you’re better off adding it to your collection than avoiding it.