If you haven’t checked in with the 73-year-old perpetual teenager Archie Andrews in a while, well, you need to get caught up. If you don’t remember reading his comics as a kid, just think Happy Days for a minute. Archie is Richie Cunningham, the do-gooder who is popular with his friends. The suave Reggie Mantle is a ringer for Potsy Webber, and Ralph Malph is basically Jughead Jones. You could drop these guys in any school cafeteria in any decade since Archie was created back in 1941 and the words may be different but the conversations would be familiar. It’s each writer after writer over the years maintaining that accessibility to readers that keeps Archie fresh. With crossover deals with rights holders and publishers today, that means Archie gets to meet other property icons. Like the rock group KISS in Archie meets KISS, the Punisher in Archie Meets Punisher, or the kids from the TV show Glee in Archie Meets Glee. Next week, Archie goes sci-fi. Instead of a “meet” with the skull collecting alien from the Predator franchise, Dark Horse Comics and Archie Comics are releasing a four-issue series, Archie vs. Predator.
Taking Archie comics first into dark territory, and back into the hands of thousands of new readers, was the 2013 series Afterlife with Archie, a zombie story by Archie Comics’ now Chief Creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and art by Francesco Francavilla (which we’ve raved about before plenty here at borg.com). But where Afterlife with Archie re-dresses the setting of Riverdale in a bleak zombie apocalypse, artist Fernando Ruiz has drawn Archie vs. Predator firmly in the more cartoony, more familiar Riverdale. And it’s that contrast between the classic cartoony and the shocking, and the outright bloody, where writer Alex de Campi takes Archie and friends into a completely new realm. Like the meet-ups at Big Al’s with the Happy Days kids, de Campi presents some current and believable banter between Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and two new rich kids as they head South of the border for Spring Break. And don’t be surprised if the quirks and angst of the Riverdale kid remind you of the characters on the classic animated series Daria, but with a Scooby Doo and Buffy the Vampire Slayer twist.
de Campi’s clever pacing is completely in sync with the original Arnold Schwarzenegger Predator. And like Jaws, the story’s villain remains in the shadows of the jungle. In fact, you shouldn’t look for those awesome variant covers (above) to be reflected in Issue #1 at all. But fear not–this leaves us with some superb suspense by the end of chapter one. If you read Issue #1 next week, I dare you not to pick up Issue #2 next month.
Issue #1 also includes a fun and quirky one-page story bonus: Sabrina Meets Hellboy, something only an Archie/Dark Horse crossover could produce.
Finally, in light of the success of the new Archie series of late, Archie Comics announced the new “Archie Horror” imprint. The anticipated second issue of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack will be hitting comic book stores April 15, 2015, with Afterlife with Archie Issue #8, arriving May 6, 2015, an Aguirre-Sacasa/Francavilla story inspired by Stephen King’s The Shining.