Countdown to End of Fourever: FF vs. Predator?

A comic that isn't happening.  Also, way better than the whole current FF run...without having happened.

A comic that isn’t happening. Also, way better than the whole current FF run…without having happened.

First off, this is not a review of the Fantastic Four plot. Instead of being a cheap shot at that easy target, I’m taking a little time to urge you, True Believers, to look at the bizarre excellence on stands now: Archie vs. Predator.

I did NOT make that up. It came out last week, and it is pure, unadulterated genius. It is a comic book that knows exactly what it is, and celebrates that thing like Prince at a 1999 party.

The execution is brilliant; Alex de Campi gives readers an Archie story that could have come directly from the Digest and it’s enjoyable and funny in the way an Archie story should be. There is competition for Archie’s attention on a trip to the tropics, a beauty contest, and Betty and Veronica bickering. That the Predator sections work in this crossover is a testament to the artists , who illustrate the story in classic Archie house style with Jason Millet’s flat, bright colors until violence creeps into the script. The Predator is at the fringes of the story, invisibly hunting the cast in his stealth suit. The loss of one of his knives sets up the rest of the story…going back to Riverdale to find the gang and retrieve it.

Simple. Fun. Smart.

Ironically, a sci-fi version of “The Most Dangerous Game,” a short story that I taught last week. maybe it was in my subconscious to plan that, but I doubt it. A happy coincidence.

The issue is heavier on Archie than it is the Predator by far, using the issue to establish a peppy reality. The story is legitimately funny with good one liners and some slightly risqué dialogue; all of it adds to a shiny happy setting for the Predator to eventually invade and wreck up the place, like a drunken Richard Nixon head atop a robot body. It’s actually a little disturbing how well the Predator winds up blending in to this world; the heads up display on the hunter’s readouts is updated and it turns out that “emojis” are universal. Who knew?

You almost have to love a comic this unselfconscious, this willing to be silly. I purchased it on a lark, thinking I would laugh at it…instead, I’m laughing WITH it.

About the art…I’m taking a cheap shot at the Fantastic Four again, which through pretense and really cumbersome licensing issues, isn’t fun at all. It’s the polar opposite of Archie vs. Predator, which mashes two bizarrely inappropriate things together into one fun item. Our hero has the Black Vortex under her arm…the Celestial artifact of insano power from an X-Men/Guardians of the Galaxy crossover that has turned out to be boring as well. So boring in fact, that I didn’t take a cheap shot about it until now.

The team selection for the FF art was fun. The protagonist is not dressed for the tropical environment, sticking to her very official wear. Since Reed Richards and Sue, as well as Ben are wrapped up in the boring plot of the book, i decided to look to the “extended family” of other cast members. We have a powerless but still ogling Johnny Storm, and an equally flirtatious Sharon Ventura, the second Ms. Marvel. That Ms. Marvel was a bizarre character…sort of complexly man-hating, and a professional wrestler. Then she turned into a female Thing, and then changed back. Most recently she was a monster again, and in prison.

I felt like I should give that second string character a positive moment. I really think that her odd “man hating” phase was a moment of late eighties comics trying to get a handle on alternative sexuality, in much the same way multiple missteps were made with Alpha Flight’s Northstar…hence her more flirtatious demeanor.

I mean…she’s a body building super wrestling lady that hated men. After that, she’s turned into sort of a genderless monster, to have a physical relationship with a nearly identical monster. You see my point there? It’s not subtle.

Here’s the art without the cover treatment…

Logo free...!

Logo free…!

So…to recap:

1. Archie vs. Predator: Good!
2. “Most Dangerous Game” lesson plans: Good!
3. Countdown to Fourever: Meh to bad.
4. Black Vortex: Meh.
5. Sharon Ventura Ms. Marvel: Dated stereotype treated poorly by writers…bad.
6. Ponies: Necessary but previously unmentioned in this post!

That’s a solid recap. As school enters its endgame, the testing season is upon us. That game isn’t very dangerous at all, since the testing doesn’t count. Still, little bits of it creep invisibly into my day, like the Predator in his stealth suit.

The protagonist would just break that Black Vortex over him. That is why she’s schlepping it around. Sadly, I don’t get a Black Vortex to chuck testing into, or crack over its metaphorical skull. In a related point, my migraine is defeated…also without a Vortex, black or otherwise colored.

Next Issue: Another Vortex! And action type things!

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