Rating: 4.5/5 – Will the Predator Survive All the Teenage Drama?
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.
I haven’t read a “vs. Predator” book in ages. I remember that being “a thing” in my comic reading youth, with heroes like Batman and Magnus, Robot Fighter pitted against the galaxy’s deadliest hunter. They were neat crossovers at the time, but likely something I would pass on these days. Then news broke that the Predator would be visiting my favorite fictional town of Riverdale and I knew immediately that I was on board for the ensuing melee. It seems I just didn’t have the imagination to consider this absurd matchup, which is either a stroke of genius or the biggest joke in the history of comics. Sure, Batman has the skill and training to take down the Predator, but what will Jughead do? Toss a hamburger at him? Then again, in the last year I’ve seen Archie take a baseball bat to a zombie’s head and Sabrina the Teenage Witch marry Cthulhu, so a visit from the Predator shouldn’t surprise me. After reading the inaugural issue in this mini-series, it looks like Archie and the gang are in for another wild ride.
The out of this world premise of the book aside, what surprised me most about this issue is how straight-laced it’s played. It’s not exactly in the vein of Afterlife with Archie, which transforms the source material into something completely new and different in both story and art. Instead, it’s very much a conventional Archie comic in tone and appearance that happens to have the Predator lurking in the background. As a big fan of the Archie comic universe proper, I fully enjoy how it’s presented. However, I can see how it would not meet the expectations of some. Writer Alex de Campi focuses the majority of the issue on the current teenage drama du jour and she puppets the Archie cast masterfully. As she recently wrote in the back of her new series No Mercy, she adores writing teenagers because, “of course, [they] are inherently dramatic.” She certainly provides enough teen drama this issue that alone it would have made for a great Archie comic. Meanwhile, she slowly works the Predator into the narrative until both stories intersect in a scene that is intense and visceral, with a touch of black humor added for good measure. It ends by setting up what is sure to be a ruckus the likes of which has not been seen in Riverdale since the Punisher visited back in the 90s. Making this feel even more like a “regular” Archie comic, Fernando Ruiz pencils this issue with the classic Archie house style that has defined the character for ages. Ruiz is currently one of the stars of the Archie art roster and I’m thrilled to see him on such a high profile book. He has no problem working in the macabre into the idyllic Archie world and he nails the Predator.
This first issue of Archie vs. Predator was a great set-up for the mini-series. Alex de Campi weaves a story that doesn’t immediately turn into murder, mayhem, and carnage, but instead gradually introduces the Predator into her world of teenage drama, crisis, and heartbreak. I really enjoy de Campi’s take on the Riverdale gang, which is a bit more angst-ridden and believable than their usual portrayal. That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Predator moving forward. I feel bad for Archie and cast because this can only end badly for them. Nevertheless, Archie Comics continues to push the envelope with this latest collaboration with Dark Horse Comics, which is ultimately good for the reader.
Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
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