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Archie vs. Predator #1 [Review]

archievspredator001Script: Alex de Campi
Pencils: Fernando Ruiz
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colors: Jason Millet
Letters: John Workman
Cover: Ruiz, Koslowski, Millet
Digital Production: Ryan Jorgensen
Design: Jimmy Presler
Assistant Editor: Ian Tucker
Editor: Brendan Wright
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Special Thanks to: Alex Segura, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Mike Pellerito, Archie
Comics Publications
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Date: April 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

The novelty of this title–that it even exists AT ALL–intrigued me. I mean, really…Archie and PREDATOR?!? That’s on a level like Archie Meets Punisher! It’s totally ridiculous…so of course I had to check it out for myself.

I’m aware of (and read the first couple issues of) the Afterlife With Archie series and such, that there’s been a lot of stuff lately to cast the Archie gang in an adult light beyond the classic pop culture iterations everyone “knows.” So sure, this definitely fits that as a concept. And aside from the sheer ridiculousness of the mashup, I’m a fan of the Aliens and Predator properties (more Aliens than Predator, admittedly) and have enjoyed plenty of Archie fare in my day, so this was certainly not an unreasonable issue for me to pick up and give a shot.

The visual style is quite familiar–rather than recast the Archie gang with a different look that would fit more with Predator, it was the Predator that’s slightly recast to fit into the classic style of the Archie characters. Of course, this is set off by the presence of on-panel blood and one particularly gruesome panel that is truly at home in a Predator comic.

We have the kids preparing for spring break…Jughead wins a cruise and takes the rest of the gang with him; we then shift to the kids on some island with a jungle. As everyone settles in, they realize Dilton’s rather distressed–he’s brought “work” (Yearbook stuff) on the vacation. The others agree to pitch in to help him get his work done so he can relax, too…which includes the Polls (Most Likely to Succeed, Cutest Couple, Most Popular, etc.). This leads to a huge fight that turns physical between Betty and Veronica over Archie (as always), and ends with Betty running off into the jungle. Meanwhile, Cheryl Blossom and her beau had seen a shooting star and investigated, though to a much worse immediate fate than the main gang. They cut the spring break vacation short and head home–back to “normal” little realizing how NOT-normal things are about to get for them.

For this issue at least, this really does feel like a mash-up. Aside from the blood and such, this could be just any other Archie comic. That we do get to see the predator itself, and some gore, and all that–and some panels of things from the predator’s point of view keeps this from being “just” some prologue, and is just enough to keep me from writing this off as some would-be thing or a pointless first issue AS a single issue. Take out the predator panels and this is an Archie comic; take those panels by themselves and it’s a Predator comic with a dig at familiar characters. Put together it’s a solid first issue of a limited series, a finite story.

We get a typical sort of Archie full-issue-length setup, we get to see the Predator, and we get setup for the rest of the series. I’d say this meets my expectation for existing as a single issue of a four-part serialized story, pretty much justifying itself in this format…just slightly more expensive than an Archie Comics-published comic (this is published by Dark Horse Comics).

The story itself feels a bit “off,” surely the presence of the Predator and blood and such, but as a non-Archie Archie comic it works.

I was anxious to check this out for myself, as said a couple times above…but I don’t think I’ll care to pick up the remaining single issues. As a fan of the Aliens and Predator stuff, I tend to prefer the collected volumes to single issues, and this definitely falls into that category–I’d MUCH prefer to simply have an Archie vs. Predator volume to put on the shelf amidst my other Predator books.

If you’re a fan of classic Archie and don’t care for darker, more serious stuff and have any active disinterest in the Predator franchise, you’ll definitely want to avoid this. If you’re a Predator purist you may not care for the lighter tone inherent with the Archie side of things (in this issue particularly) though it looks likely that that’s gonna go downhill in the later issues. But if you’re amused or curious at the concept of Archie of all properties crossing over with the Predator…this is well worth checking out. Despite that, as said–I’m leaning very much toward the collected-edition format myself.

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Past Aways #1 [Review]

pastaways001Script: Matt Kindt
Art: Scott Kolins
Colors: Bill Crabtree
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Scott Kolins
Digital Production: Jason Rickerd
Design: Jimmy Presler
Assistant Editor: Ian Tucker
Editor: Brendan Wright
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Perhaps the most dismaying (to me) thing of this issue came in the backmatter, after the core of the issue itself. In reading stuff from the editor (Wright), I learn that several months ago there was an 8-page prelude to this issue in Dark Horse Comics Presents. In other words, deciding to pick up the FIRST ISSUE of a NEW SERIES did NOT actually let me start “at the beginning.” I’m NOT getting the very start of these characters (real-life time), and now if I want what happened before this I need to track down some other comic–from MONTHS ago–as it wasn’t even reprinted in this issue. Or I should forego the single issues, as that prelude may well be reprinted in the first collected edition. (However, being Dark Horse and not Image I’m not hopeful of a $9.99 first volume).

PRIOR TO learning that I’d missed content relevant to this story, this was an ok issue. The concept is certainly more interesting to me than the execution, the actual story. People from the far-future trapped in 2015, present day and trying to get home. I personally often marvel at modern technology and wonder what people would think seeing it fifty years ago. I rarely consider how “primitive” it might seem to people fifty years from now, or more.

This issue gives us a quick glimpse at several of these individuals from the future, showing where they are now, having been trapped in 2015 for some time. Outside of the descriptions given on the cover, there’s really not enough yet in just this single issue to establish the characters with any real depth or much to interest me. I can’t imagine there won’t be more depth in further issues as each character gets more “page time,” but there’s honestly not enough within the pages of this single issue to truly grab my interest the way I’d like.

The art is actually better in my assessment of this issue–though I recall having mixed feelings on Kolins‘ art, here I do like it. Having no prior “experience” with these characters, I have no other designs to compare them to, so they simply “are” as they appear here. Not being much for studying and picking up a lot of detail from the visuals, I’d’ve skipped over a LOT if it wasn’t for “captions” calling attention to certain things.

I picked this issue up with the expectation of trying a new series, only to learn that there was already story-stuff out before that I had no clue about, which is a huge turn-off. While I “get” that something like this will inevitably need room and time to develop on-page, having far more conceptual stuff than can POSSIBLY be put out in 26 or so pages…I feel like this is just a small slice of a larger story, even as an opening arc–something I’d probably enjoy more as a whole in a collected volume than serialized across a number of single/monthly segments. Whether Dark Horse will omit backmatter for collected editions or not, I don’t truly know–primarily, there’s a single page from the point of view of one of the characters describing an excursion into the “primitive” city and how that experience went.

Prose pages and image cutaways of bases and such can add depth and immerse a reader in things…but I do find I am a lot more skeptical of these things in newer series as I feel like they’re “cheating”–rather than more story content through pagecount, after reading a few pages of actual comic-style pages, then I’m subjected to prose reading to flesh things out. I’m TOLD stuff instead of being SHOWN or getting to “experience” it unfold across the issue(s).

If you’re willing–at $3.99 an issue–to invest in a new concept, a new series, track down a several-months-old issue of Dark Horse Presents and give more time to immersing yourself in this, it’s probably worth checking out. Otherwise, this seems very much like something that will be a more enjoyable thing in a larger chunk–such as the collected volume.

While I WAS learning heavily toward keeping an eye out for the second issue, to see where this goes, I’m probably going to “let it go,” as I have no desire to track down a random issue of Dark Horse Comics Presents to get the prelude…nor to continue onward KNOWING I’ve MISSED that prelude. I MAY check out the collected volume, but as I suspect 4-5 $3.99 issues’ content will probably be a $16+ volume (rather than an introductory-priced $9.99), this might be it for me.

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