The Punisher is one of the most feared and infamous figures in the Marvel Universe. Not content with simply bringing the criminal underworld to justice, The Punisher lives up to his name by meting out justice with extreme prejudice. Archie Andrews, a typical All-American teenager hailing from Riverdale, lives a simple but good life. In a perfect world, neither of these characters should ever have had to meet each other, but in 1994’s The Punisher Meets Archie: When Worlds Collide (by Batton Lash, John Buscema, Stan Goldberg, Tom Palmer, Barry Grossman, and Jack Morelli) crime came to Riverdale with The Punisher close behind.
The story began with The Punisher in hot pursuit of a man, his face hidden within the shadows of his hat and coat. The man managed to evade The Punisher and grabbed a ticket headed for Riverdale. As the man bought his train ticket, he reveals his face, his likeness to a spitting image of Archie. The Punisher met up with his partner from him Micro and the two drove to Riverdale to hunt their prey. Unbeknownst to the small town, the mysterious man arrives in Riverdale and promptly puts his plans into motion. Meeting with Veronica Lodge and her father de ella, the man introduced himself as Melvin Jay, a famous entrepreneur and Chairman of the Board of Pulaski Pharmaceuticals. He explained the reason for his visit from him is that Lodge Enterprises has holdings in Pulaski Pharmaceuticals and that he was thinking of opening a small office in Riverdale. Impressing both Veronica and her father, Melvin is invited to a dance to be held at Riverdale High.
As Melvin heads out into the night with Veronica, Archie and his friend Jughead are accosted by a gang of rough mobsters mistaking him for Melvin, aka Red. Before Archie and Jughead can explain themselves to the mobsters, The Punisher crashes into the scene and rescues Archie. Confusion washed over both The Punisher and Archie as they struggled to figure out who the other was and what exactly was going on. Soon, the trail led them to Riverdale High, where Red and the rival mobsters were converging.
What could have been a wonderful evening of dancing and socializing returned into a chaotic firefight as The Punisher engaged with the mobsters. Red kidnapped Veronica and escaped from the dance. As the citizens of Riverdale learn why The Punisher is in their town, Archie, Betty, and the rest of the Riverdale gang band together to help The Punisher rescue Veronica. A final confrontation occurs in a large warehouse full of Fourth of July floats; Veronica is saved and Red looped to a float, left to fly up into the sky.
The very idea of The Punisher crossing over with Archie is one of absolute absurdity. Having The Punisher meet Archie was originally an inside joke between Tom DeFalco and Victor Gorelick, but, against all odds, the comic came to life. And the best part? It’s an absolute joy to read. The comic manages to walk the razor-thin line of balancing the massive tonal shifts between The Punisher and Archie, but for all their differences in aesthetics, there are a number of similarities that allow the characters to work together.
Despite being a hardened war veteran turned vigilante, The Punisher was a kind-hearted family man before the death of his family. Standing in Riverdale, The Punisher becomes still, envisioning the life he could have had. It’s a touching moment that gives a heartfelt purpose as to why he strives to protect Riverdale from crime. Archie, for all of his silliness, is fiercely loyal to his friends and is always willing to fight the good fight for them. As unlikely allies as they are, Archie and The Punisher find common ground in protecting people.
2017’s The Punisher on Netflix, as well as 2017’s Riverdale on The CW, prove that both characters are still capable and popular enough to enjoy successful shows, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever cross paths again. While it would be pretty wild to watch The Punisher explode into Riverdale again, the shift in style for Archie might not make for such an endearing cross-over. But with cross-over events all the rage nowadays, there is always the slimmest of possibilities they may meet again.
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