Archie vs. Predator II Goes for the Jugular—and the Funny Bone

Featured Picture of Archie vs Predator 2. A shirtless Predator in Jeans and with a Gun poses with an arm around Betty, a blonde in a pink tank top. Leaning on his other shoulder is Veronia, a brunette in a White ringer tee in other diamonds surrounding them are a blood-spattered car

The last time we checked out life in post-apocalyptic Riverdale, Betty, Veronica, and a sympathetic-to-humans Predator disguised as Archie were trying to survive off scraps. Fearing for their lives and forever prevented from leaving the city’s limits, a bit of devil magic-related universe-hopping finally broke Betty, Veronica and not-Archie free – and landed them in a much more wholesome Riverdale.

Archie vs Predator II: Revenge Comes to Riverdale #2-4

Laura Braga with Bryan Valenza (Cover); Alex de Campi (Story); Howard Chaykin with Wil Quintana (Cover), Bill Galvin with Ben Galvin and JJ Harrison (Cover); Kelly Fitzpatrick (Coloring); Robert Hack (Line Art); Robert Hack with Kelly Fitzpatrick (Cover), Phil Hester with Eric Gapstur and Matt Herms (Cover); Jamal Ingle (Cover); Rebekah Isaacs with Matt Herms (Cover); Sandy Jarrell (Cover); Pat and Tim Kennedy with Bob Smith and Rosario “Tito” Pena (Cover); Jack Morelli (Lettering); Greg Smallwood (cover); Michael Walsh (Covers);
Archie Comics/Dark Horse Comics
September 18, 2019, October 23, 2019, and December 4, 2019

In a neon-blurred haze, a predator - a green-faced alien with a large mouth and prominent forehead - emerges from a red car before the neon-lit sign promoting Pops'. The rainbow archway of the malt shop's entrance can been sen in the background. The Predator is wearing Archie's blue shirt, white teeshirt and jeans, and seems to have his letterman's jacket looped casually over his shoulder.

Veronica and Betty manage to convince their doubles that they are who they say they are through some fleet-footed verbal footwork (best moment: Veronica convincing Veronica that they’re the same person by revealing that she knows she has her mother’s stolen checkbook hidden in her pocketbook). Unfortunately, they’ve been tailed by a fleet of deadly Predators to this universe, and they consider the Halloween dance a hunting ground. Cue a Predator vs Predator throwdown to the death!

“Grimly funny” is the best way to describe the Archie vs. Predator series. Gallows humor mixes with blood-soaked grimness in a way that Robert Hack makes entertaining and exciting. Aside from the emoji-speaking Predator, Veronica and Betty get to throw out some pathology picture-worthy jokes as they try to dodge laser beams and think up escape plans.

The deaths are gory if not very inventive, mostly consisting of Predator-typical decapitations – heads and spinal columns pulled, dripping with blood from a hapless person’s body. One of our characters ends up on the receiving end of a memorably nasty and ironic death, and another is sliced into chunks in a way that’s icky and even a little chilling, a smile frozen on their dying face.

In a splash panel from the third issue, Cheryl and Jason Blossom, two redheaded twin siblings, hide out in the seafoam-green colored locker room of Riverdale Highschool. Squatting in front of Cheryl is Reggie Mantle. Jason is wearing the white suit and black broad-collared shirt of John Travolta's Tony Manara in Saturday Night Fever. Cheryl is wearing a pink sweater and purple pants, a'la Claire Standish in The Breakfast Club. Reggie is dressed like Michael Meyers from the Halloween series in a navy jumpsuit, a faded william shatner mask perched on his forehead and a fake knife in his grip. In the background, Veronica rummages in her locker. "Hello, Riverdale," Cheryl says. "There's a new redhead in charge." In black banners to the right of the image, the title of the issue - Dance of Death - can be seen.

The issues do not skimp on intensity; there’s one moment where Archie dangles over the gym floor during the Halloween dance, clinging to a catwalk by the tips of his fingers. We genuinely care that he might perish – and the acts he commits to save his friends are lovely in their own way.

The best parts of the series fall upon Hack’s trusty shoulders. His Riverdaleians are clearly themselves, and elegantly drawn in thick marker strokes – but so are his Predators and his gore. That carnage pays off in shades of red and grey and black and green that are captured perfectly by Fitzpatrick. She also cast murky shadows onto the scene, beautifully highlighting everything awful and wonderful about Predators.

In short: ever wanted to watch a bunch of Predators eat a dog? This book has it!

But the writing doesn’t slouch. And for those of you who’ve always wanted a pinch of Betty and Veronica romance in their official comic line, the series definitely provides by the third issue, when one set of Betties and Veronicas kiss in a locker room shower.

Combining wit and violence, genuine tension and sadness with a grisly and bitter sense of humor, Archie vs Predator 2 is still an interesting, if dark, showpiece for Mr. Andrews and his friends.