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Archie Vs. Predator II (Archie Comics/Dark Horse Comics) Trade Paperback Review

    Ian Jane

  • Archie Vs. Predator II (Archie Comics/Dark Horse Comics) Trade Paperback Review

    Released by: Archie Comics/Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: June 10th, 2020.
    Written by: Alex De Campi
    Illustrated by: Robert Hack
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    When the first Archie Vs. Predator four-issue min-series hit comic stores in 2015, it proved far better than it had any right to be. What could have been little more than a quick and easy crossover meant to cash in on the 'dark Archie' trend that was big at the time thanks to Afterlife With Archie's success, it instead turned out to be smart, funny, tense and at times even a bit unsettling thanks to a great script from Alex De Campi and solid art from Fernando Ruiz. Five years later and it's time for a follow up. De Campi is back on writing details, and Ruiz has been replaced by the great Robert Hack.

    Here's how it plays out (after a two-page 'the story so far' text bit that will get those who haven't read the first run up to speed)…

    Riverdale is a wasteland, everything is on fire. Betty and Veronica talk to the 'camera' while Archie, who is actually a Predator, fiddles with an assault rifle in the background. All of their friends are dead but Veronica is sure if they can get Archie to walk up Memory Lane, they'll all come back. The problem is finding Memory Lane in the first place - and when they do, they find it closed, about to be turned into condos. They've been cancelled! Veronica gets 'alien' Archie to hot wire Reggie's car and they're off... only to wind up back in Riverdale somehow.

    In her dream, Bettie talks to Dilton about the Halloween dance. He's got a familiar looking mask as part of his costume, and he just needs her to join him so they can go as Daft Punk. She splits and he puts the helmet. Elsewhere, on Mars, a few Predator soldiers get a message.

    Back in the real world, the three of them see themselves in costume and are curious how they've been replaced. Dilton uses the helmet and the Predators synch on his signal.

    As the 'classic' Archie characters meet with their 'new' selves, classic Archie turns into his alien Predator self and Betty tries to explain things to the newbies. Predator Archie grabs Dilton's helmet as they try to figure out where they can hide him and they figure Riverdale High, what with the Halloween dance happening and all, is the best spot. They enlist Toni's help, and she's understandably confused by all of this, though she is able to translate for Predator Archie, who tells them that if he doesn't go home, home is going to come and get him.

    As the dance gets underway, the Predator ships looking for Predator Archie arrive, at which point 'new' Archie realizes how much trouble everyone is in. As a whole lot of people get slaughtered, Predator Archie works with the classic and current characters to try and figure out how to stop his kinsmen from killing everyone in new Riverdale… and to avoid spoilers we'll leave it at that.

    It's important to note that the original Archive Vs. Predator series was the last of the 'classic' Archie stories, and that this sequel uses that as a launching point to tie into the 'new' Archie characters as they appear in the current rebooted comics. It was also the last 'classic' Predator story before that series was rebooted with the fourth film, and it ties into that as well. We even get Predator dogs. The way that De Campi's story does this is quite clever, maybe a little cynical (she admits in the intro she's fed up with corporate franchise entertainment, after all), but very well done. There's a twisted sense of humor to all of this, as you'd hope, but there are some genuinely somber and touching moments here as well. The story pokes fun at comic reboots and makes some fun references to Archie Comics' past and present as well as teen culture, texting and cell phone obsession, body image issues, horror movies and even the sexuality of some of the character in the Archieverse. Since none of this is happening 'in continuity' it would seem that De Campi was given free reign here, and the story is all the better for it. There are loads of pop culture references to movies and music but there's also really solid character development here to flesh things out and make some of the characters actually matter.

    Robert Hack's artwork, which is really nicely colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, looks great. It's nicely detailed and quite stylish, atypical for the classic Archieverse in many ways but very much suited to the story being told. Lots of nods to the series' are scattered throughout and the panel layouts move nicely, helping the story to flow really well. There's an appropriately dark look to many of the pages and some impressive moments of surprising splatter and violence that have just the right amount of impact. Lines 'move' nicely here, the characters are all really well defined. Great stuff.

    In addition to collecting the five issues that make up the run, this trade edition also includes a new text introduction from De Campi who talks about approaching the first series as a teen slasher film and what the story ultimately serves as from her point of view. We also get a collection of cover art pieces (the best being Hack's Andy Sidaris tribute piece - no really!) including all of the variants that were done for the series, which is a nice touch (hey look, Howard Chaykin!).

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