May 19, 2015

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Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.32.58 PM  ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR #2

Written by: Alex de Campi
Art by: Fernando Ruiz

Right from the start, we all knew to expect incredible things from the crossover no one could quite believe was really happening: Archie Comics  and Dark Horse’s Archie Vs. Predator. Yet here we are at issue #2 already, and writer Alex de Campi wastes no time in not just raising the stakes, but stapling them to the roof.

While issue #1 was primarily dedicated to staging our premise, with rich never-do-wells Cheryl and Jason Blossom serving as this Predator’s first victims, #2 jumps right in with a death on the second page, and beloved Archie side-character Pop Tate is far from the only casualty this time around. Don’t worry, I won’t be spoiling the rest for you, except to say that a few I was really quite sad about. I can only speculate as to how things can go from here, but I will say it’ll be an interesting adventure to follow through with only half the cast (if that) still living.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 8.34.01 PMArchie Vs. Predator, though only at 2 of 4 issues so far, is a fun and fast-paced bit of genre horror, both utilizing and poking fun at the well-known tropes we come to expect of supernatural survival horror, and speaking of which, the nod to Afterlife With Archie was an especially nice touch.

I’ll admit that when I read issue #1 I found the behavior of the characters a little jarring, as our cast has Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.33.57 PMessentially been adjusted slightly to better fit the tone of the crossover, but as of this issue I’m used to it. The story necessitates their personalities be exaggerated so they may embrace horror “character tropes” to an extent, especially given that it’s only four issues long, and the effect creates a nice Archie-esque blend of comedy and extreme drama. Moments like Betty with a Veronica voodoo doll, Reggie taking selfies while firing a gun half the size of his body, and Moose hollering “MASTER CHIEF” while running into battle not only convey basic personality cornerstones with a clever simplicity, but are also just funny and charming to see amidst the bloodbath. Fernando Ruiz’s detail-laden art only adds to this charm, bringing personality and motion to everything he touches; his group scenes especially are full of wordless character interactions and telling body language that make every panel visually fulfilling.

All that aside, I do have one major concern with this book so far that I hope it will not continue into the next two issues. Issue #1 showed us a beach brawl between Betty and Veronica that resulted in torn clothes and Betty’s noseAVP 2 Var being broken; she ran through the jungle and set the plot events in motion wearing her cleavage-and-leg exposing rags with her face covered in blood. This issue, a blood-splattered Veronica changes out of her ruined clothes right there in the middle of a scene, showing off her carefully rendered lingerie to us (the audience) as she and Betty talk. While it’s true that neither girl was necessarily in “active peril” at the moment of either scene, the “woman in sexualized peril” is one genre trope this book doesn’t need; not only are Betty and Veronica still teenagers, the fact that Ruiz being one of Archie’s “house style” artists makes the visual, to me, especially uneasy. While the premise of Archie Vs. Predator already banks on killing our darlings (so to speak) in especially brutal fashions, I feel that is quite enough without adding unnecessary over-sexualization of the women to the mix. Please!

Otherwise, this is a very solid issue; jam-packed enough to keep you guessing and to keep you reading. Just be prepared to face the death of at least one of your favorites.