Archie vs. Predator
Archie Comics / Dark Horse Comics, Spring 2015
Four Issue Mini-Series
Reviewed on 6.19.2017 / 9.5 Stars – Highly Recommended
“He’s in Riverdale with a few days to kill.”
In comics, crossovers are a regular thing. Ghost Rider becomes a member of the Fantastic Four. Catwoman makes a pit stop in Keystone City, home of the Flash. Beta Ray Bill meets the Hulk in a gladiatorial arena on another planet. Heroes and villains with no history get to meet for the first time, colliding into a sometimes bizarre cocktail of misfortune and reverence. Sometimes these meetings work, often they are forgettable.
When it comes to cross-publisher crossovers, the premise that makes each respective character click needs to be laid out early, so that readers can understand how the two worlds will mesh going forward. One character leaves its traditional setting and temporarily inhabits (or invades) the world of another character. Conflict occurs when the master of one domain is challenged for the first time by the aggressive values of the new character- just like any other story, except that all traditional plot formalities get tossed out the window. Since these crossovers take place in alternate realities, all bets are off as characters go to extremes to prevail. The list of clashes between publisher franchises grows each month. With so many options to choose from, how does a publisher create a crossover formula with lasting power and gravitas? Maybe more important to the ideas themselves is having publishers willing to stir the pot and recognize another company’s talents.
Since the early 1990’s, Dark Horse and 20th Century Fox have done a fantastic job in choosing who to let their Predator and Aliens characters clash with. 1991’s Batman vs. Predator (printed with DC’s Elseworlds seal on the cover) was an inspired cross-publisher crossover that had the two icons hunting each other in the dark streets of Gotham. The series was a straight-forward action series- a fit so easy it almost felt effortless. Aliens and Predators have appeared in a slew of titles, usually adopting the aesthetic of that world while applying their values in kind. Batman vs. Predator also predated the odd Amalgam Comics imprint of the mid-90’s, which mushed Marvel and DC characters in the most convoluted ways.
Most inspired (and maybe the most shocking) of all was 2015’s Archie vs Predator, which pitted the iconic gang from suburban Riverdale against an invasive, teenage Predator. The four issue series kept the gang’s relationships and rivalries intact and then splattered everything else about Archie on the floor. The Predator, infatuated with Betty, goes on a brutal, gory killing spree across Riverdale, taking skull trophies at a fevered clip.
Two of the main components to Archie’s staying power are the rivalries between characters and the sharp dialogue that stands out on every page. When comics and movies work to make teen characters smart, what’s on the page often feels pretentious or takes on self-conscious tone. Archie’s characters always feel genuine- full of insecurities, sharp and timely humor, and clearly defined sets of values. Archie Comics has done a nimble job of letting the market know that they’re still relevant and willing to make calculated risks seem like natural fits.
The Archie vs. Predator mini-series is probably the greatest cross-publisher collaboration of all-time. Each of the four issues sprint through the action at a tremendous pace without ever compromising the desires of each character involved. The writing is deft, the dialogue is crisp, and the art sets a perfect tone.
The trade compilation of the four issues also features some inspired variant cover work by indie artists and a pair of brief histories on how the project came to exist. Included at the end of the trade are several fun mini-crossovers that will no doubt someday serve as fascinating mini-trivia between comics geeks.
The complete four-issue Archie vs. Predator series is included as part of the ComiXology Unlimited subscription plan.