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 its name by delivering justice with extreme bias. Archie Andrews, a typical American teenager from Riverdale, leads a simple but pleasant life. In a perfect world, none of these characters should have ever met, but in 1994 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 right behind it.
The story began with The Punisher chasing a man, his face hidden in the shadow of his hat and coat. The man managed to escape The Punisher and grabbed a ticket to Riverdale. As the man buys his train ticket, he reveals his face, in the spitting image of Archie. The Punisher encountered his partner Micro and the two traveled to Riverdale to hunt their prey. Unbeknownst to the small town, the mysterious man arrives in Riverdale and quickly puts his plans into motion. Upon meeting Veronica Lodge and her father, the man introduced himself as Melvin Jay, a famous entrepreneur and Chairman of the Board of Pulaski Pharmaceuticals. He explained that the reason for his visit is that Lodge Enterprises owns stakes in Pulaski Pharmaceuticals and that he plans to open a small office in Riverdale. Impressing both Veronica and her father, Melvin is invited to a prom to be held at Riverdale High.
As Melvin heads into the night with Veronica, Archie and his friend Jughead are accosted by a gang of brutal gangsters mistaking him for Melvin, aka Red. Before Archie and Jughead can explain themselves to the mobsters, The Punisher crashes onto the scene and saves Archie. Confusion overtook 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 converged.
What could have been a wonderful evening of dancing and socializing turned 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 reunite to help The Punisher save Veronica. A final showdown occurs in a large warehouse full of 4th of July tanks; Veronica is rescued and Red loops on a float, left flying in the sky.
The very idea of The Punisher crossing paths with Archie is absolute nonsense. Having The Punisher meet Archie was originally a joke between Tom DeFalco and Victor Gorelick, but, unexpectedly, the comic came to life. And the best part? It is pure joy to read. The comic manages to walk the very 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 his family died. Standing in Riverdale, The Punisher comes to a standstill, imagining the life he could have had. It’s a touching moment that explains why he strives to protect Riverdale from crime. Archie, for all his silliness, is fiercely loyal to his friends and is always willing to fight the good fight for them. Unlikely 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 the two characters are still capable and popular enough to enjoy hit shows, but they’re highly unlikely to cross paths again. While it’s pretty crazy to see The Punisher explode again in Riverdale, Archie’s change in style might not make for such an endearing crossover. But with the crossover events all the rage these days, there’s always the slimmest of possibilities that they could meet again.
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