Review & Spoilers: Archie vs. Predator #1

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ARCHIE vs. PREDATOR #1 cover A
         ARCHIE vs. PREDATOR #1 cover B         ARCHIE vs. PREDATOR #1 cover C

 

ARCHIE vs. PREDATOR #1 (of 4) Review

untitled (22 pages)

Written by: Alex de Campi
Pencils by: Fernando Ruiz

Inks by: Rich Koslowski

Colors by: Jason Miller

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

 

Another of many firsts for me! This time I get to look at an offering from one of the top five companies: Dark Horse, baby! What’s extra special is that there’s a mash-up with a venerable institution: Archie Comics! Two radically opposed franchises are set to coalesce in an off-beat yet ingenious way. On with the show!!

 

Spring Break is upon the Riverdale gang once again. They bandy ideas wanting to break away from the predictable. Snooty Cheryl Blossom and her tantamount twin Jason roll up in their sweet ride. Cheryl sneers at the public school kids’ plans while Jason condescendingly refers to them as proles. Cheryl is dead on the money as to their options. She and her bratty bro will be yachting in the Caribbean. Jughead breaks the ice (and pops the bag of chips!) revealing a mega-prize — a luxury beach vacation. Talk about luck, coincidence, and poetic justice.

The decaquartet adjust to their surroundings: Los Perdidos resort. Reactions are enthusiastic all around. Jughead, with his voracious appetite, eyes some mango trees and tries to go for them. The manager advises against that lest he be the next meal for the jaguar in the jungle. Insert fear factor here.

Betty and Veronica venture into their room. Reggie lugs the massive chest that can only contain Veronica’s wardrobe. After the poor lug drops it off, Ronnie slams the door in his face and offers cliché fashion advice after he requests a tip. Dilton, the resident nerd, is already experiencing dread. He only has two weeks to put together the yearbook. One of the more significant pieces is the polls. Ronnie overhears Dilton mention best-dressed as one of the categories and squeals in delight. Archie, ever the swell guy, offers his aid. Dilton is grateful and will be able to actually enjoy the vacay. Jughead asks Reggie how he made out with Dalton. Mr. Muscles brags about his irresistible sex appeal. Equipped with zingers, Jughead ends up mocking the braggart.

Dilton races off to his hut. He opens his suitcase to reveal a telescope. Time for stargazing. A falling star is spotted by Dilton, Betty, Ronnie, Archie, Jason and Cheryl. It’s a gross understatement to point out that Dilton wet himself a bit with this phenomenon. That’s no meteor that landed. It’s a colossal spaceship. If you haven’t already figured out who the occupants are then…forget it. The panel on page 8 has me scratching my head a bit. The words “When you wish upon a star” are in big, bold letters. I assume that it’s a communication system audible for all, or perhaps it is sophisticated skywriting. Either way, a sextet easily oblige by pondering their innermost desires.

Jason and Cheryl drop by for a visit. Their entrance and interest are anything but sincere. Jason fancies himself some adventure. He and sis will explore the volcano of the Jaguar Goddess. He is going to pull an Indiana Jones and help himself to some valuable relic. Jughead has waffles on his mind. Archie is about to specify what the gang’s plans are when Veronica appears with a semi-skimpy outfit. Heads turn, hearts pound, and blood rushes.

First sign that the Predator is present. Thermal imaging of the group is shown. Cheryl yawns at their fun and whisks away with Jason. Jughead is in his own happy place with a mountain of waffles. Reggie directs the girls to prepare for the best dressed poll. He wants them to show (off) as much of themselves as possible. Betty is fraught with insecurity and opts out.

As Betty enters her hut, she is surprised by Cheryl sprawled on the bed. Miss Rich B!+¢# thinks the natural blonde is more than worthy of winning the contest. Betty is unconvinced. She knows that Cheryl has an ulterior motive. The fiery redhead confesses that she wants to upstage Betty’s BFF Veronica. Round of applause for Betty who has integrity. There’s one essential ingredient: Betty’s love for Archie. It seems that Cheryl can’t get through to her but once the page is turned, Betty pulls a fashionably late arrival. Guess who just won?

Veronica loses it. She is crushed that her bestie would steal the spotlight. Matters are made worse when Cheryl tells Ronnie that she had her hand in it. Veronica leaps at Betty all enraged. A brutal catfight ensues. Archie tries to break up the two and stumbles over Betty’s purse thus bumping into Ronnie who smacks Betty across the face with her own handbag. Ouch!! I really feel for bashful Betty especially since she ends up bleeding from the mishap. Veronica, completely oblivious, plants one on Archie when he lands on top of her. Reggie relishes in the scrap. Stranger danger!! How many of you noticed the alien bounty hunter observing on page 14? That’s too easy. Turn to page 15 and indicate his location!! Tweet me 😉

Betty really got a bum deal. Her heart is shattered into a million pieces. Her nose is broken. Unbeknownst to her, she is being tracked by the Predator. Jason and Cheryl are also under watch. Her fleeing of the scene leads her to the shrine of the Jaguar Goddess. This is where things go off-the-wall. Betty comes across an ebon dagger. When she unsheathes it and amusingly invokes the deity, I see the new She-Ra!! A roar is made and rocks fall. She rushes out à la Shaggy.

A search party is in effect. Veronica shows some vulnerability and rues her rash behaviour. A rumble catches their attention. I thought it might be the volcano waking up but it turns out to be Juggie’s empty stomach. The boy is a bottomless pit! A piece of Betty’s outfit is found by some blond guy. [Shameful disclaimer: I don’t know his identity L] One can assume that the red is blood but it turns out to be print on polyester. The horror!! For shame!! Some rustling has Ronnie pouncing into Archie’s arms. Betty emerges pretty-as-you-please. Archie is so elated at her return that he just tosses Ronnie aside. I literally LOL.

Heads up, Archie and friends!! The Predator is right above ready to make a drop!!! Like any other efficient hunter, he decides to let them leave and bide his time. The gang decides that Riverdale is their primo location to spend the break. Archie says goodbye to the manager. Reggie and Moose haul a much heavier chest (I wonder why!), and Veronica will hook up Betty with her mom’s surgeon for rhinoplasty. Again, here’s where I have to look twice and think much harder. A patting sound alerts Betty. She pulls out the dagger she took from the shrine. It seems that she had forgotten all about it. My question is this: what’s that patting sound?!?

The gang congregates at Pop’s. Archie spews a tried-but-true statement: friendship is what creates fun times and magical memories. Veronica flatly states that she is bemused by the drama regularly experienced within the group. No kidding!! The last panel shows her as the Predator’s target. Oh, Archie, little do you know that nothing normal will come from this point forward.

 

Alex de Campi is increasingly becoming more prolific! She is dabbling in a few comic book companies. She is also quite versatile. Gold stars are given for her blend of camp with hints of horror, unexpected violence, and a sprinkle of suspense thrown in for good measure. She has an outstanding take on the Archie characters. Their speech seems to hail back to the 40’s [“gosh darn”, “It would be a cold day in heck”] but is juxtaposed with the most modern lingo [“so tan”, “troll”, “Truth!”] The cluelessness coupled with innuendo had me in stitches. I can easily see that Alex is a resident of Riverdale 😛

Never having read an Archie book (except this one), I never cease to have my jaw drop at how the characters are illustrated. It doesn’t matter if it’s the main publisher or other distributors. The point is this: THE ART LOOKS THE SAME!!! This is an accomplishment by any talented illustrator. Fernando Ruiz is no exception!! How does he do it? Mr. Ruiz draws a mean (by that, I mean sick, uh, rad) Predator! Just like its cinematic depiction.

Rich Koslowski’s inks accentuate the evergreen adolescents. Their faces, actions, and body language are completely brought to the forefront. The black outline around each character really emphasizes that they are cartoon/cardboard characters. It sets them apart from all other minutiæ.

Jason Miller has given us a most splendid colouring book. The vibrancy of the clothes match the sunny dispositions and tropical setting. The drabness of the Predator threatens to muffle the raging rainbow but it provides a realistic and intentionally off-putting contrast.

 

Here are some amusing and fascinating things that I want to point out.

Hot under the collar:

Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional sexual reference? It works best when indirectly obvious.

1 – Jughead opening the bag of chips is a sure sign of the Big O. *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*

2 – Reggie equating his sexual prowess to that of a T-Rex. Jughead’s retort is priceless: “Tiny appendages, very noisy…” Kiss that manhood goodbye, Reggie!

3 – Dilton will be #foreveralone How would you interpret this? : “Oh, gorgeous, I can’t wait to press myself against your big aperture.” The kicker is the extension of the telescope. If nothing else, I’d say he plays for the other team.

4 – Dilton exclaiming “Yes” twice while viewing the shooting star creates a most vivid image and obvious outcome to excitement.

5 – Betty’s snatching of the dagger causes the earth to move. HHHHMMM

Knock (it) off!

Satire is a much-needed dig against society. Some brands can’t be overtly mentioned. Otherwise, the copyright cops will take you down!

  • Tayto-Chips — no fear here. The term itself is so generic. Clever name.
  • Chanil — in lieu of the French brand. Interestingly enough, it could be pronounced like “chenille” which is French for caterpillar.
  • Versayce — how Elizabeth Berkley mistakenly pronounced the ‘other brand’ in the movie Showgirls only to be ridiculed.

The real world:

  • Los Perdidos — This translates as “the lost ones”. There is an actual luxury resort in Costa Rica that goes by this name. Hence the setting.
  • Econo Lodge — A lower-end chain of motels in terms of price and amenities.
  • NATO — North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Worldwide police force.
  • Set phasers to stunning!” — Paraphrase of a Star Trek
  • East German judge — Um, Germany unified in 1991. Get with the times!

Emojis — Earth’s new hieroglyphs?

When the Predator is scanning Betty and more so Veronica, those cute, creative icons emerge. On page 14, panel 2: I don’t know which set is for whom but one depicts a smiley face with two hearts instead of eyes, two checkmarks, the magnifique hand gesture, and ‘100’ triple-underlined. The other has a dart hitting a target twice, and a rocket.

Page 22, panel 4 shows a gun pointing to a distraught female face. Hi-larious!!

 

I give this initial issue a numbskulling 9 out of 10. Here’s to more folly and fright!

{There’s an extra page of content. Read below}

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“Sabrina Meets Hellboy” (1 page)

Written by: Alex de Campi
Art by: Robert Hack

Letters by: Clem Robins

 

The crossover continues!! How neat is this? I thank myself for being thorough enough to flip through an entire book.

Sabrina, age 8, dozes off after her two aunts fly away to some unpronounceable town. Hellboy, of the BPRD, casually enters through the window. Salem, the protective cat, is ready to strike. Hellboy assures him that Sabrina is safe. He is seeking the feisty feline. Salem states that his immigration papers are in order. Hellboy doesn’t buy it. Sabrina awakens to the dialogue. I love how Salem introduces the pair: the future queen of witches and the future king of Hell. Like any other innocent untainted by harsh reality, Sabrina greets HB and asks if he wants to play Lego. The imposing red-hued figure is speechless.

So unexpected!! This is a real treat for fans of either franchise. I see this as a “thank you” to all readers. Thus, I express my gratitude as well.

The graininess and etched designs harken to comic strips of yore.

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