Archie vs Predator II is published by Archie Comics, written by Alex de Campi, art by Robert Hack, colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick and letters by Jack Morelli. With Betty and Veronica being the only Riverdalers to survive the Predator’s Hunt, they now seek a way to return their world to what it used to be. But when they accidentally stumble into a rebooted Riverdale a new Hunt begins. Can these more realistic Riverdalers survive where others died? Can things ever go back to the way they used to be? Is there any dog Jughead can’t befriend?
To say that Archie vs Predator II surprised me would be an understatement. Having never read its predecessor, I had no real notion of what sort of story lay ahead of me. Instead of just a blend of Riverdale humor, and Predator gore I was gifted with a story focused more on two people having to come to terms with a monumental change in their lives, and how to move on from there. Though there is plenty of gore and humor to go with it.
The focus of de Campi’s marvelous writing in Archie vs Predator II are Betty and Veronica. Specifically, classic Betty and Veronica. As the sole Riverdale survivors of the original story they clearly have a lot to come to terms with. DeCampi’s liberally breaks the fourth wall with these two. Introductions are made to the reader, and upon discovering rebooted/more realistic Riverdale Veronica suffers from a loss of self-worth. She fears she’s been replaced. That soon, after decades of being read and loved by the populace, she and Betty will be forgotten. Even with all the mayhem that explodes around them as the new hunt tears through Riverdale, this is the crux of this story. The harsh transition from one phase of a fictional character’s life to another. And it is handled stupendously.
Veronica’s crisis hit me particularly hard as she comes to the early conclusion that she and Betty must have done something wrong. Why else, she asks, would people choose to move on from them. This hit really close to home for me. I have always had a particularly forgettable personality. If I don’t chase after people, they almost all forget me. I went through a long time struggling with what I was “doing wrong”. Like Veronica, I had to realize some truths before I could accept that sometimes that’s just how life is. Though, my revelation didn’t come from nearly as colorful a character.
Beyond Veronica and Betty’s struggle with self and future, Archie vs Predator II tells an entertaining tale of gratuitous violence and laughs. As a swarm of predators comes looking for one of their own Riverdale gets caught in the crossfire. Some truly brutal hijinks ensue. But, as one of the book’s chapters reminds us: It’s ok, none of this is canon.
The artwork manages to augment both the humor, and weight the story strides for. Hack creates wonderful versions of these characters that stand apart from each other. This is especially true for the Bettys and Veronicas. As both pairs have enough differences to stand apart, while still feeling like the same people. The artistic presentation is topped off by superb colorwork on the part of Fitzpatrick. The duller colors lend the appropriate tone to this book. Giving it a forbidding feel, while not suffocating it’s lighter moments.
I must also praise Morelli’s lettering. The story in Archie vs Predator II is always placed on the page in a clear and understandable style. Normally this would be a basic expectation from a letterer. It’s more impressive when one of the characters speaking only in emoji. And yes, a moment of the story is spent finding someone who can “read” emoji so they can figure out exactly what he’s saying.
When all is said and done Archie vs Predator II is a nearly flawless work of comic book storytelling. Humor, horror, and genuine character growth are all rolled up into one bizarre package I never would’ve believed could work. But it so does. If you are looking for something different, and deep, I cannot recommend Archie vs Predator II enough. After all, it’s not like it’s canon.
Archie vs Predator II is available April 15th wherever comics are sold.
Archie vs Predator II
Humor, horror, and genuine character growth are all rolled up into one bizarre package I never would’ve believed could work. But it so does.