The ultimate hunter meets the ultimate teenager. Who saw this coming?
When you think of Archie and his gang of teen sensations from Riverdale, images of high school hallways and milk shake laden diners come to mind. You don’t think jungle. You don’t think “Get to the chopper!” You definitely don’t think intergalactic alien hunter extracting human spines. Yet Archie vs. Predator brings these two worlds together, and it works surprisingly well.
While there’s not a lot of “versus” going on in this issue, it works fine for a first act. The Predator, in classic monster-movie fashion, lurks menacingly on the fringes of the main plot, which centers on Archie and the regular cast of characters—Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and the wonderfully unlikable rich kid duo of Cheryl and Jason. The crew embarks on spring break and the story quickly transports the cast from the familiar territory of Riverdale to the fictional Caribbean island of Los Perdidos (the “lost ones” in Spanish).
Artist Fernando Ruiz does a good job of meshing together two worlds that are visually polar opposites. The book’s look is undoubtedly passed through the lens of the Archie Comics universe, but Ruiz still does the Predator justice. Ruiz perfectly captures the main cast, filling the panels with recognizable Archie faces decked out in stylized yet realistic looking tropical fashion. There’s a jauntiness to the pages that hums along with the brisk energy of teenagers on spring break.
The script by Alex de Campi is similarly snappy. The story moves at a quick pace and there’s more than one turn of the page or panel transition. The dialogue is a pitch-perfect match for each character and it’s used in heavy amounts, which makes for a satisfying read. Everything one would look for in an Archie story is present, from the everlasting Archie/Betty/Veronica bizarre love triangle to Jughead’s affection for carbs. There are also doses of teenage horror romps. If the story had a soundtrack, it would bounce from bossa nova to the dissonant strings of I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Along the way, de Campi drops in some playful nods to the Predator universe, including one of the more quotable lines from the first movie and the patented “heat vision” point of view. There’s even a nice MacGuffin thrown into the mix to tie everything together and keep things moving.
De Campi’s story carries on a somewhat long tradition of pairing Archie with unlikely characters. Previous matchups include Marvel’s Punisher and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Like those previous entries, the story is focused on fun and the absurdity of the circumstances. The reader is in on the joke the whole time and that angle adds to the overall mirthful energy of the book, even with the occasional evisceration and blood splatter.
Archie vs. Predator #1 is a fun teenage scary movie captured in comics form. The pages conjure the feeling of being at a drive-in on an August night. With crisp and cartoony artwork and a fast-paced script that successfully merges the elements from the worlds of both Archie and Predator, this unlikely matching is worth checking out for casual fans of either franchise.