Full disclosure: I never read de Campi’s first miniseries, but the sequel is accessible to virgin eyes.
These aren’t your childhood pals from Riverdale. Continuing where they left off in the first miniseries, Archie — now part-Predator — and the gang go toe to toe with the alien hunters at a school dance. The whole affair is ultra violent, but de Campi throws in some conceptual ‘WTF’ twists that let you know she isn’t just taking the piss (note to British editor: did I get that right?)
De Campi sticks to the cast’s (mostly) grounded characterizations of the other Archie off-shoots, yet offers meta-commentary that elevates the script with genuine heart and a thoughtful ending. There’s closure among the Riverdale archetypes when you least expect it, conclusions that are both timely and cross-generational, all the while delivering classic Archie themes that have renewed significance in our world of fluid identities. De Campi’s direction permitted more conceptual depth, but there’s only so much you can get away until a silly crossover like this feels pretentious.
The art delivers on de Campi’s tone. Hack’s smudgy-inked pencils and Fitzpatrick’s dark hues create an atmosphere with just the right amount of space to permit kitschier beats, particularly moments of physical comedy reinforced by Morelli’s lettering. The variant cover gallery shows off an impressive range of interpretations worthy of their own series (“Introspective Archie” via David Mack, anyone?)
If anything, the Archie Vs. Predator series at least demonstrate one way comics can innovate if publishers loosened their grip on certain IPs and just let the mad scientists of storytelling today go nuts. Nothing is sacred, and you could do worse than showing wholesome 40s era teens with their spines ripped out by 80s beefcake culture.
Alex de Campi (W), Robert Hack (A), Kelly Fitzpatrick (C), Jack Morelli (L) • Archie Comics/Dark Horse Comics, $18.99
Review by Moe Abbas