‘Archie Vs. Predator’ #3: Is there anyone left to kill?

avp3coverArchie Vs. Predator #3
Written by Alex de Campi
Pencils by Fernando Ruiz
Inks by Rich Koslowski
Colors by Jason Millet
Published by Dark Horse Comics

It didn’t take long for the Predator to cut a swath through the idyllic town of Riverdale. It’s to be expected; it’s literally in the name. “Predator.” After taking out most of the background Archie characters, the alien menace has its sights set on the central Archie gang. However, after last issue’s bloody events, how long do Archie and his friends have left?

After significantly trimming down the cast of characters last issue, writer Alex de Campi is able to focus on the surviving characters in greater detail.  Betty, Jughead, and even Dilton Doiley take the stage and move the plot forward in significant ways. Dilton steps up in a big way this issue, to the point where he steals the issue from everyone else. However, this increased interest in the series’ secondary characters comes yet again at the cost of the titular character and franchise golden boy himself: Archie Andrews. At this point, it feels as though Alex de Campi doesn’t have much interest in Archie as much as she does the other characters, which isn’t an entirely bad thing. Almost every other character in Riverdale is more interesting than Archie, but it is worth noting that Archie exhibits nowhere near the same amount of agency that his friends do.

avppanelThe other major player in this tale is the Predator, who takes a back seat to the human characters this issue. Sure, the intergalactic hunter steps in and collects a few trophies for the collection, but he mainly serves as this ever-present, looming threat, driving the survivors of Riverdale to action. The alien hunter also skirts the line between comedic and terrifying, lurking in air vents with its bright green blood dripping just behind it’s prey’s heads, and analyzing said prey through its iconic thermal vision, accompanied in this comic by emojis, a phenomenon which seems to be popular across the galaxy. All this would be a liability in a more tradition Predator story, but in a comic titled Archie Vs. Predator, you really can’t take anything too seriously, and if you do, you’re reading the wrong comic.

Another interesting idea De Campi plays with here is how absolutely absurd it is for the Predator to be hunting the population of Riverdale. The comic is very self-aware that way, and anyone familiar with the Predator movies know that the titular race of hunters only hunt those that pose a challenge. Not only are Archie and his friends poor sport for the Predator, but through a series of jokes and sly digs, the comic acknowledges how worthless the town itself should be to the alien. Despite being distinctly aware of this, however, De Campi continues to unleash the Predator’s murderous bloodlust on Archie and his friends, apparently all for an antiquated dagger. With only one issue left, it remains to be seen whether De Campi is side-stepping the film’s lore, or has something left up her sleeve.

Longtime “Archie” artist Fernando Ruiz returns on pencils, accompanied by Rich Koslowski and Jason Millet, on inks and colors, respectively. Once again, the traditional Archie style lends itself surprisingly well to the violent material depicted here. The art team is clearly having as much fun drawing the comically gratuitous violence as De Campi is writing it. One character’s vicious death carries as much delicious irony and dramatic weight as it does pure “ick” factor, and the art team brings it all together.

With one last issue to go, and number of survivors fewer than the amount of letters in the word “Archie,” the myriad directions this series could go in it’s final act are limitless. A firm ending is a tricky thing to pull off in comics, but if Archie Vs. Predator can deliver some serious drama while it’s having fun, then this book will be remembered for more than just pitting hapless teenagers against an extraterrestrial adrenaline junkie. Although, there are worse things to be remembered for.

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