Mild spoilers for "Archie Vs. Predator #1" follow!
Despite the family-friendly surface you see on local newsstands, Archie Comics have always been a little odd at times -- remember when Betty sold her soul to the devil to make Archie fall in love with her? (Yes, that happened.) But there's no denying that over the last couple of years, Archie's publishers have gotten a lot, lot ballsier when it comes to pushing boundaries.
First, they introduced zombies to Riverdale with the truly horrific spin-off series, "Afterlife With Archie." Then last year, to mark the end of the mature-themed "Life With Archie" title, Archie was shot to death while protecting his friend Kevin, an openly gay, pro gun-control U.S. senator with a military background. They've even recently announced a soft reboot of the franchise with a modern, much hotter version of their titular hero.
Now, Archie and Dark Horse Comics have teamed up to take Riverdale completely off the rails with a new mini series that pits "America's favorite teen" against the "Galaxy's deadliest hunter." Yes, it's just as ridiculous (and hilarious) as you would expect. Moreso, even. We read the first issue and, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover before us, survived to give you the scoop:
No one is safe.Dark Horse/Eric Powell
Unlike that time Archie and his friends met with the Punisher of Marvel Comics fame, this isn't just a fun and quirky brush with violence; it's for real. Well, not REAL real, because we know they're not going to end the entire franchise with everyone getting systematically hunted by the Predator. But let's just say that some of your favorite supporting characters have already gone to that great malt shop in the sky -- where they were skinned alive and hung from the ceiling. You know, as one does.
The art is done in classic Archie style, which makes the gore even more messed up.Dark Horse Comics
"Afterlife with Archie" may be a pretty disturbing spin-off (and so's its creepy sister series, "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina"), but at least it could never be mistaken for the harmless stories you grew up reading -- Francesco Francavilla's art style is too distinct. But Fernando Ruiz, who does the interiors for "Archie Vs. Predator," has been working with the comic publisher for years on much tamer stories --- well, in comparison, at least..
"I’m usually the guy Archie gets to draw the weird stories like the Archie 'Thor' parody and the 'Game of Thrones' parody," Fernando Ruiz told Comics Alliance last week. "'Archie Vs. Predator,' because of the sheer intensity of the story, absolutely tops anything I’ve ever done in terms of weirdness. I’m drawing stuff I never in a million years thought I’d ever draw."
The gang doesn't actually know they're being hunted yet.Dark Horse/Dan Parent
They don't just ignore the looming threat of violence -- they literally do not even notice it. Like, comically so. Makes you wonder what insidious horrors you're missing on a daily basis in the real world, huh?
Everyone's personality flaws are dialed all the way up to 11.Dark Horse
As the daughter of a wealthy software engineer, Cheryl Blossom is usually written as being much snobbier than the rest of the group. But in this first issue, she straight up wishes death on the working class. Meanwhile Reggie Mantle, who's always been a bit of a ladies' man, calls himself a "gosh darn sexual tyrannosaur" (an admittedly awesome nod to Jesse Ventura's line from the original film) and tells all the women he's hanging out with to wear less clothing around him. Who ARE these people? I don't know, but I kind of want them all to get horribly murdered at this point.
We are getting some serious Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes off of Betty.Dark Horse
Maybe we just feel bad because she's always playing second fiddle to Veronica in pursuit of Archie's affections, but we'd say things are looking good -- girl's already got herself a weapon!
Of course, everybody knows that being armed opens you up to being a Predator's target. And either way, we wouldn't put all our money on Betty just yet...
Veronica's definitely gonna be a contender, too.Dark Horse/Robert Hack
She's the first to draw blood. Before the Predator, even!
Speaking of which, are you ready for the weirdest freakin' part of all of this? Trust us, you're seriously not. But we'll tell you anyway:
The Predator's bio-mask communicates via EMOJI. No, REALLY.Dark Horse
And to make matters worse, he seems super into the idea of a Betty/Veronica catfight. Like, heart eyes, two check marks, an "A OK" sign, and 100% into it. First of all, do predators even understand the concept of numbers? And second of all, gross, dude. Get back to being the best at killing and leave the weird fetishizing to Reggie.
The first issue of "Archie vs. Predator" arrives at comic book stores on April 15, with a spectacular story from "My Little Pony" writer Alex de Campi and art by Fernando Ruiz. Trust us, you're gonna want to get on in this on your way back to dah choppah. Muscle bulging high-five!