Regular contributor Paul Stevenson is back with his thoughts on Alex de Campi and Fernando Ruiz’s Archie vs. Predator and Keith Davidsen and Randy Valiente’s Reanimator.
Hello friends. I’m gladly returning to share with all of you some more of my random thoughts and suggestions. I chose two very recent comic book limited series which I really loved. Each one with very different themes, however both have a pretty violent narrative revolving around some classic characters.
First up is Archie vs. Predator, a four-issue miniseries published by Dark Horse Comics, written by Alex de Campi (Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight, No Mercy) and illustrated in the classic Archie Comics style by penciler Fernando Ruiz (Life with Archie, Archie and Friends) and inker Rich Koslowski (3 Geeks, The King). It has the cartoon-ish look, bright colors, and idealized female body shapes that you would expect to see in any Archie comic. This is very fun, very fast, and has plenty of bloody action that involves the Predator from the films and the comics crossing into the world of Riverdale.
The story is pretty straight forward and easy to follow. All the kids from Archie universe win a beach resort vacation during spring break. Like always, Betty and Veronica are fighting over Archie, Betty gets punched in the nose and runs off into the jungle. She stumbles upon an ancient cave-like shrine and finds a sacred knife inside which she picks up and the cave starts to rumble. As she runs off, she drops the knife and it falls into her pocket. The kids all leave the island shortly after all this. Betty accidentally leaves the island with the knife still in her pocket, taking it all the way back to Riverdale. It turns out the Predator was stalking them on the island, all this time. He follows them back stateside and almost immediately starts shredding people in the most horrific ways. As he picks off the group of kid that were on the island one by one, Betty tries to figure out what the significance of the knife is and how she can stop the Predator before he kills her beloved Archie.
I highly recommend this for a very entertaining, unusual crossover story. It’s so much fun and just an easy read. If you have ever wanted to see most of the people from Archie getting splattered, ripped apart, and gutted in an irreverent tone, then you should get this. All the individual issues have been released in print and digital (on Dark Horse’s digital comics service) and the hardcover collecting the miniseries is due to hit retail on November 4, 2015.
Now, my second choice and even better recommendation for a limited series is Reanimator, a four-issue miniseries from Dynamite Entertainment. This comic is written by Keith Davidsen (Poison Elves) with art by Randy Valiente (Army of Darkness, Grimm Fairy Tales); and as we so often see with Dynamite, a nice variety of variant covers from great artists like Jae Lee (Inhumans, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born), Francesco Francavilla (The Black Beetle, Afterlife with Archie), Tim Seeley (Ex Sanguine, Hack/Slash), and Andrew Mangum (So… I Survived the Zombie Apocalypse and All I Got Was This Podcast). The interior artwork is pretty good, although not always incredibly detailed. The panels are very well laid out to tell the story and the colors by Jorge Sutil (Vampirella, Swords of Sorrow) are great. The story is well-written and the persona of protagonist Herbert West feels authentic to the character from the cult classic movie of the same name.
I will say that if you don’t know the movie, then you can still enjoy this, but will probably not follow it quite as easily. If you haven’t seen The Reanimator, I highly recommend watching the original movie from 1985. It is definitely a body horror/gore-fest classic, and I believe it’s available to rent as a DVD on Netflix and can be streamed on the Hulu subscription service.
The comic’s story takes place in a modern era New Orleans, after the events of the first movie and the sequel. Hebert West is back to his usual work with new methods and ideas on how to re-animate the dead using chemistry and microbiology. He rescues a woman from a drug deal-turned-violent named Susan Greene. He quickly figures out that she is a skilled tech for a lab where she was stealing drugs and selling them. He re-animates one of the men he just killed in front of her and demonstrates what some of his work is about. He then offers her a chance to help him continue his work. Susan, who has become something of a thrill-seeker since the murder of her fiancé, accepts West’s offer.
We soon find out the Hebert has ulterior motives aside from perfecting his serum. He also knows more than he let’s on about Susan and the death of her partner. As you would expect from a Reanimator story, everything quickly turns insane and Hebert moves flawlessly through all the chaos he has orchestrated to acquire freshly dead specimens and try out his creations, all while executing his plans perfectly. The man is two steps ahead of everyone and he assumes an almost vigilante/anti-hero role which is an interesting spin for this character. All of the individual issues are available in the usual print and digital comics outlets, with a trade paperback collection almost surely coming out as well in the near future.
OK, that’s all I’ve got, thanks for reading and please leave a comment to let me know what you think. Check out my toy photography and other random stuff on Instagram (@paultstevenson).