Crossovers and team-ups are hallmarks of comics. They’re the basis of The Avengers, but not all team-ups are as logical as Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor uniting against a horde of space monsters pouring out of a portal. Some of the most bonkers team-ups and crossovers have involved Archie Andrews and crew. As these five comics illustrate, Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica are versatile enough to go anywhere: from the gritty world of a vigilante to an alternate universe.
1. ‘Archie vs. Predator’
You know it’s not a typical Archie comic when you read a line like this: “I, Betty Cooper, call down jaguar vengeance on nasty old Cheryl Blossom!” Featuring a teenage Predator and traditional-looking Archie art by Fernando Ruiz, this recent series is so warped even Hunter S. Thompson couldn’t have imagined it. If you ever wanted to see beloved Archie characters hunted by an alien beast whose signature move is ripping out the head and spine of his victims in one motion, this is the series for you. Archie Vs. Predator is a little reminiscent of an ongoing Archie mash-up: Afterlife With Archie, which shows what might happen if a zombie apocalypse came to Riverdale. Bonus crossovers: Each issue contains an extra one-page story such as “Sabrina Meets Hellboy” and the even odder “Jughead Meets Mind Mgmt.” (Mind Mgmt is a thinky conspiracy thriller about government agents with mental powers that I cannot recommend enough).
2. ‘Archie Meets Kiss’
Since the Archie-verse is so stable and well-known, it’s a perfect ingredient for virtually any kind of “worlds collide” story—even if one of the worlds involves the most absurd, theatrical band ever: Kiss. This story started as a classic horror tale, as the Riverdale Monster Society decided to start reading out of an old book of spells. How could that go wrong? In addition to summoning real monsters, the somewhat monstrous fellows in Kiss also appear. I won’t spoil which battle is fiercest: Kiss vs. the monsters or Kiss’s wardrobe vs. Veronica’s fashion sense.
3. ‘Archie Meets Glee’
Of all the Archie crossovers, this is the least far-fetched on paper, since it involves the Riverdale teens meeting another bunch of teens. Fortunately, teen cheesiness is not the focus, as this has a surprising sci-fi edge, with science geek Dilton creating a “portal-porter” to the Glee-verse. Alternate universes have been a staple of superhero comics since the sixties, when the Silver Age Flash met the Golden Age Flash—a meeting referenced in this comic. In Archie Meets Glee, writer Robert Aguirre-Sacasa embraced multiversal comic-book science by positing the Archieverse and Gleeverse as alternate versions of each other: Archie, Betty, and Veronica’s counterparts are Finn Hudson, Quinn Fabray, and Rachel Berry. As various characters switch universes thanks to a portal-porter accident, the displaced teen heroes struggle to maintain the integrity of the space-time continuum. And you thought love triangles were complicated.
4. ‘Archie Vs. Sharknado’
This one-shot—co-written by Anthony C. Ferrante, director of the Sharknado movies—is set to debut July 22, the same day as Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No. Since Archie & Co. have proven to work well with zombies, portals, vigilantes, alternate universes, and Kiss, a swirling tornado of sharks and campy humor seems like the logical next step.
5. ‘Archie Meets The Punisher’
Frank Castle (aka The Punisher) became a killing machine in Vietnam, then started his own war on criminals after watching his family get mowed down by mobsters. The Punisher has been the perfect foil for superheroes (especially Daredevil and Spider-Man) who follow that pesky “no killing” rule, and he proved an even better foil for the non-crime-fighting, non-spandex-clad Archie. I reckon this 1994 story is still the pinnacle of the bonkers mountain that is Archie crossovers. In Archie Meets The Punisher, Marvel’s murderous vigilante comes to Riverdale with a redhead on his hit list: a redhead who looks a lot like Archie. As they say, hijinks ensue. Like so many superhero battles, the initial battle—in this case, an attempted murder by The Punisher—proves to be a meet-cute for the inevitable team-up. The highlight here is reading The Punisher’s clipped, hardboiled, noir narration in the world of eternal sock hops, milkshakes, and (in the words of Veronica) “Archikins.”