This week Archie takes on the Predator, and Azrael Batman returns in Convergence: Batman: Shadow of the Bat!
Archie Vs. Predator #1 (of 4) (Archie Comics)
Of all of the modern comic publishers, the one that makes the most daring choices is Archie. Before you balk at my claim, take a look at some of the titles they’ve released in the past few years. From Kevin Keller to Afterlife With Archie, the publishers of “America’s Favorite Teen” have been coming up with ingenious new ways to keep Archie and his pals relevant decades after he was created. Archie vs. Predator #1, out today from writer Alex De Campi and artist Fernando Ruiz, continues the Archie renaissance, even if the issue is mainly set up.
AvP (see what I did there?) finds Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and the rest of the Riverdale crew heading to Costa Rica for Spring break. While there, a mysterious ship crash-lands that they all mistake for a comet. Later on, they hold a poll for the yearbook, which of course leads to a fight between Betty and Veronica (that the Predator is watching). Betty runs off through the woods, and comes across a cave that contains a strange dagger. A few days later, the crew returns home, and Betty realizes that she still has the dagger with her, and we see a familiar targeting system following the gang.
Alex De Campi’s script has a lot of set up, so if you’re expecting the Predator to start hunting down Archie and the gang, you’ll have to wait a little longer. However, De Campi’s script does an awesome job of combining these two completely different worlds together. She has an excellent handle on the way the characters in Archie interact with one another, and also sets up the Predator in a way that, well, feels like the Predator we all fell in love with in the classic film.
Artist Fernando Ruiz also brings the two worlds together well. His art has the classic Archie feel, and his “Archified” Predator looks exactly like how you’d imagine him to. While his art doesn’t stand out like Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife With Archie does, it’s still excellent.
Archie Vs. Predator is a really fun (and weird) story. I’d never in a million years have thought that I’d see these two franchises cross over, but I’m glad they did, because I’m really entertained by it. Archie Comics has had some pretty big successes with Afterlife with Archie, Sabrina, and other reinterpretations of Riverdale, and it’s looking like Archie vs. Predator will join them.
Convergence: Batman: The Shadow of the Bat #1
I’ve been enjoying DC’s Convergence event way more than I thought I would. The tie-ins, however, haven’t been nearly as good. But when I saw that my beloved Azrael Batman would be featured in Larry Hama and Phillip Tan’s Convergence: Shadow of The Bat, I had to pick it up. And unfortunately, we’ve got another dud.
The pre-Zero Hour Metropolis has been captured by Telos’ dome, and Batman is stuck inside. Having recently been healed from his back injury, The Dark Knight has come to Metropolis to try and put a stop to gangster The Whale’s stranglehold on the city’s dwindling food supply. This brings him face to face with the man who replaced him: Jean-Paul Valley, aka Azrael.
As happy as it makes my inner five year old to see AzBats again, I have to say, this issue is ROUGH. Larry Hama’s script is pretty boring, and his dialogue for Bruce Wayne and Jean Paul Valley is atrocious. I know Larry Hama is capable of a lot more, so I’m hoping that maybe this was a rushed job, but man, this book was tough to get through. Batman and Azrael come off more like two school kids bickering on the playground than seasoned crime fighters, and the eventual tie-in with Wildstorm’s WetWorks makes zero sense, and that’s counting the fact that we’re told that the two worlds are going to fight one another from the beginning.
The art fares a little better thanks to Phillip Tan, but even then there are some weird panels and faces that pop up every few pages. Tan’s Whale looks like a Doctor Who villain, and the big action scene at the end of the issue gets too busy for it’s own good. At times I was having trouble keeping up with what was going on, and how certain characters got to where they end up.
It sucks that Shadow of the Bat, well, sucks. Of all of the Convergence tie in issues, this was the one I was most looking forward too. Of the tie-ins that I’ve read, the only one that I felt was really good was Greg Rucka’s The Question tie-in. Perhaps one of the problems is that the “previously in” set up page is in the BACK of the book, so you start out the comic with a ton of questions about which world you’re seeing, and what events “count” for the title. But it could also be the fact that some of these titles are just simply not very good. I’m still going to get the second issue of this and hope it turns around, but as of right now the only Convergence title worth getting is the main one.
CAPE CRISIS RECOMMENDS: