Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews—now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Archie vs. Predator 2’ #1, out this July 24 from Dark Horse Comics and Archie Comics.
THIS ADVANCE REVIEW OF ‘ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR 2’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
by Clyde Hall. Just gonna say it. In the 2015 Archie/Predator crossover, the alien hunter was at his scariest. Calamari-gone-wrong nightmarish. Not because of a moody and under-lit setting. Not because the extraterrestrial trophy hunters are lethal, uncompromising murder machines. Because it took place in Riverdale, with the Predator and America’s Favorite Teenagers drawn by Fernando Ruiz in a method eerily approaching the signature style of Dan DeCarlo. It was equally jarring and unsettling, and highly amusing. When blood spattered, when heads rolled, when corpses got de-spined, we were losing childhood pals. But we still laughed, especially when the Predator developed a “teen from outer space” crush.
The new Archie vs. Predator 2 from Archie Comics and Dark Horse Comics lays in a divergent course to Earth’s ample game reserve. Still guided by the capable scripting the first series’ writer, Alex de Campi, the art of Robert Hack and the colors of Kelly Fitzpatrick propagate a more realistic aesthetic, the sort popularized in Afterlife with Archie, Vampironica, and Jughead: The Hunger. The story is also a departure from what de Campi did before. Coupled with the differing art sensibility, this new round enjoys a variation injection that invigorates it for a new beginning.
The scene opens tight on the Christian Louboutin heels of Veronica Lodge and the sensible flats of Betty Cooper. With humor and horror intact, we find the Amazonian BFFs still in the company of an Archie-Predator hybrid amidst Riverdale’s charnel remains. Memory Lane and multiversity avenues are put to good use by de Campi, who breaks the fourth wall to reset the mass casualty fields. Betty and Veronica take a hyper-reality bypass to a more populated, less war-torn Riverdale only to find they’re already there.
Not there is a Predator party—or perhaps a nuclear family, rather, complete with Predator hunting dogs. While they take in the limited sights of Mars, the wayward teen of this brood of Predators is off on his own hunting trip. Like a typical youth, he can’t be bothered to report in with the folks and soon they are bound for the nearby li’l blue world to check on him.
Shattering the barriers between characters and audience isn’t new, but de Campi makes the most of it. Multiversal theory is also standard comics cuisine now, but here, the possibilities expand. If the writer chooses, we could get a Spider-Verse glimpse of how Archie and his cast from other realities stand up against Predator aggression.
Despite the amalgam nature of Pred-Archie, both characters are well represented in the reimagining. Yes, he’d probably lob a razor frisbee at a living target. Just as likely, when it missed and boomeranged, he’d catch it with the hand lacking protective armor.
Betty and Veronica, true heroes of the first series, continue leading the assault to reclaim their lost peers. In this case, the search is for a reality or a time period they can accept. Their banter is balanced between snipes and savvy insights as they start their odyssey of discovery. It reveals as much about their inner space as it does about threatening outer space life forms.
Hack’s artwork and Fitzpatrick’s palette combine into a tincture of weariness as we follow the protagonists through the ruin of their former lives to the promise of a new start. They make the resurrected cast appealing while still investing them with an air of pending tragedy. It’s a relief having them animated and kicking once more, skeletons intact. It will be a shame discovering what betides them. But this is exactly where dread should build.
Lettering by Jack Morelli crosses the same multiversity landscape with the characters, adapting as needed with subtlety. Big effects sounds are mostly held in reserve, awaiting more and larger battle scenes, and his translation of the Predator language is clear and clever.
If readers enjoyed the first series, they’ll find sufficiently familiar threads with which to chart a new narrative labyrinth. The styling of several components, including overall tone, differs. There’s no question Archie vs. Predator 2 is going to stand apart from what came before, and that’s better than a warmed leftovers rehash. It’s not more of the same, but whether it will be enough of the same with fresh-tastic side dishes is the question. It’s smart, the pacing is steady, and its sense of horrific humor endures. That’s not a bad beginning for a title such as this.
Archie Comics / Dark Horse Comics / $3.99
Written by Alex de Campi.
Art by Robert Hack.
Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick.
Letters by Jack Morelli.
7.5 out of 10
‘Archie vs. Predator 2’ #1 hits stores July 24.