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Could we maybe reverse the names and swap “kills” for “meets”? – Archie Meets the Punisher #1

August 10, 2011

There are times when I want to wrap my arms around comic books in a rugged, manly embrace. This is one of those moments.

I’ve made my general distaste for the Punisher clear before. Not my cup of tea. That aversion, though, is dwarfed by my apathy towards Archie and his Riverdale posse. My knowledge of that universe is spotty at best. I didn’t know his last name was Andrews until I read this book. I sometimes have trouble remembering which is the brunette and which is the blonde (by the way, Veronica every day and twice on Sunday). I have the mildest bit of admiration for Jughead and his gumption, which allows him to walk around 24/7 with a Burger King crown perched atop his dim skull, but that’s about as far as any affinity goes.

And that brings us to this bit of stupendousness, which I’ve long known of but only recently added to the archives.

Is it wrong of me to want Mr. Castle to rough up Archie and his cheerful gang? No, right? I hope not, BECAUSE I WANT THE PUNISHER TO SLAP THAT FRECKLED PUSS SILLY. I want him to give them the same treatment his movie self gave those douchey Parkour dudes.

Don’t let me down, Frank.

Batton Walsh wrote this little ditty and Tom Palmer inked, while John Buscema and Stan Goldberg split pencilling the respective Punisher and Archie halves. The excuse for this collision of worlds comes when an Archie look-alike gangster that the Punisher is stalking heads to the whitest town in America — there’s a real Clint Howard/Ron Howard dynamic between “Red” Fever and Arch (and please note the other fictional potential destinations):

It’s not long before the Punisher finds out where he went, and he and the brainy Micro make the typical fish out of water when they walk down Riverdale’s tree-lined streets:

In the meantime, Red has inserted himself into the town’s social scene in his quest to take it over. He’s made friends with Veronica’s father and he’s agreed to take her to the school’s sock hop, all this after she and Archie had their 1,958,394th argument. Speaking of Mr. Andrews, some rival gangsters are also on Red’s trail, and they kidnap Archie by mistake. They in turn are taken out by the Punisher, who’s also confused Archie for Red, and this gives us a stare-down for the ages:

Even the coldest soul has to chuckle when they see that.

Archie slips away when the other gangsters fight back and he eventually works his way to the dance (Josie and the Pussycats are the featured performers, of course). Frank goes there too, and I was a bit surprised by the genuine poignancy of these panels, as he walks through the quiet halls:

The Punisher affects a disguise to “blend in” with the scene, and manages to activate Miss Grundy’s primal yearnings in the process:

It’s not long before Archie, Red, the gangsters and the Punisher all collide. Automatic weapons make their first ever appearance at a Riverdale sock hop, most secondary characters get a moment in the sun (no Big Ethel, though), and the Punisher wields a cake while forging the most unlikely alliance in Earth’s history:

Red escapes with Veronica as his hostage. Time for our newly formed duo to regroup and muse:

Yes, the words “Archie’s,” “War” and “Journal” were just used consecutively.

Red is tracked to a building that houses comic character parade balloons(?!), and in the final confrontation it’s Archie that strikes the felling blow, revealing that Red is wearing a Gene Hackman/Lex Luthor wig:

Poor Red gets his foot caught in one of the balloon loops, and off he goes:

“FORWARD MY MAAAAAAAAAiiiiiiiiiillllllllll……..”

Okay. The day is saved. Veronica is rescued. Riverdale is safe. But the Punisher is going to at least give Archie a good slap, right? Right?!:

Gah! He’s one of them now!

At least the story ends with some hope for the future:

There you go.

Having Archie and the Punisher cross paths is an irresistably stupid idea. It’s one of those combinations that’s so odd it’s almost impossible for it not to work. And, in line with that, this comic is as good as it could possible be. All the notes are hit with aplomb, and one has to give credit to the artistic crew for meshing (or not meshing, as the case may be) the wildly divergent aesthetics of the Punisher and Riverdale. I don’t know if I’ve smiled this much while reading a comic book since the “Conan in the Present Day” story.

You know what? It’s even enough to make me soften up on poor Archie.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2011 5:51 pm

    Oh my gods; a giant balloon of The Shield. That made my day.

    • August 12, 2011 2:05 pm

      There are some really nice Easter Eggs throughout this thing. Definitely worth a look for that alone.

  2. August 10, 2011 9:46 pm

    “Even the coldest soul has to chuckle when they see that.”

    Agreed.

    • August 12, 2011 2:07 pm

      The Punisher’s stubbly mug reflected in Archie’s wide-open eyes is so perfect. Combine that with the framing of the freckles and the grid-pattern hair, and it’s the take-away image of the book.

  3. August 14, 2011 10:57 am

    I spotlight one of the Easter Eggs here. http://www.comicscube.com/2011/04/easter-eggs-in-comics-familiar-faces-in.html

    I love this crossover so much that I’ve long felt that if I had to rank the crossovers, this would be in the top 2, and I’m not sure which slot it would fill. I love the Riverdale crew and I can’t stand the Punisher – ther ewas no way this should have worked.

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