After dealing twice with DC Comics' Batman, the next logical Intercontinuity Crossover for Marvel Comics' no-nonsense vigilante The Punisher was for him to try to shoot that delightful neighborhood rapscallion Archie Andrews.
Frank Castle, the vigilante known as The Punisher, is working together with the FBI to bring the up-and-coming drug dealer known as Red Fever to justice. Red tries to evade him by going to idyllic Riverdale, where he tries to establish a new criminal enterprise. However, Punisher follows and stops him with the help of Red's lookalike Archie and his friends.
The premise started as a joke by Archie editor-in-chief Victor Gorelick when the company was trying to find an idea for its first Intercontinuity Crossover with a superhero publisher. Writer Batton Lash submitted a proposal showing how the idea could actually be done, and both Marvel and Archie decided it was just Crazy Enough to Work.
The Marvel-published edition of this book is titled The Punisher Meets Archie.
- Bald of Evil: Red is actually bald, a fact that he hides with a red-haired toupee.
- The Cameo:
- Josie and the Pussycats appear as the band playing in the 50s dance at the school.
- Among the guests of said dance are Sabrina, Patsy and Hedy, Katy, and Millie.
- Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre, also briefly appear (Batton Lash, the writer of Archie Meets the Punisher, created Wolff and Byrd).
- The entertainment at the dance is implied to be Dino Manelli of the Howling Commandoes (he mentions the kids reminding him of a friend he names as Junior Juniper). note
- Cassandra Truth: Archie tries to tell the local cops about the danger he is in due to the Punisher and the criminals after the Red Fever, but they don't believe him due to various calls he made in past, that turned up to be mistakes and misunderstandings from his part.
- Criminal Doppelgänger: Red Fever looks exactly like Archie. Played more realistically than usual because the two are clearly distinguishable despite their identical facial features, and everyone, including Frank, is quick to notice the difference. The ending also implies that Jughead has one as well, an Eastern European dictator.
- Hostage Situation: Red takes Archie's possible girlfriend Veronica hostage after Punisher catches up to him. Rest of the comic's drama comes from unravelling of the situtaion.
- I Have Many Names: Red Fever is also known as Czar, Mel Jay, Montana Bob, and Freckles.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: When Archie and the gang spot Punisher in the dance, everyone is quick to do something about it, and to avoid trouble, Reggie announces that he'll check the bleachers. This a bad choice in a hindsight, since Punisher's gunplay with the gangsters who are after Red takes him there.
- Internal Monologue: Frank has one while walking through empty halls of Riverdale's school, mostly about about what a nice place it is and how he would like to keep it safe by killing the bad guys... then he notices a mural that says "It's up to you to keep Riverdale clean!"
- Lighter and Softer: Deliberately invoked in-story, even Lampshaded by Microchip. It's implied to be because Riverdale's innocence reminds Frank of what could have been... he even spares Red Fever in an uncharacteristic move, because he doesn't want to expose Archie and the other residents of the town to the bloodshed and cruelty that he lives with every day. Also, it's telling that at the end of the story, Betty is providing the voiceover for the night's events while everyone is talking about the adventure and Frank and Microchip are preparing to depart. Betty makes a very astute observation that she thinks Frank really doesn't want to leave...
- Motif Merger: The comic has Punisher's skull-logo crossed with Archie's features.
- Non-Standard Character Design: Frank and the other Marvel characters are drawn by John Buscema, while the Archie characters are drawn by Stan Goldberg. This leads to Frank looking far more realistic than the Archie cast.
- Pet the Dog: Frank does one for the entire town, as it is obvious that Riverdale's innocence has touched him. It's very apparent when he lets Red escape. Sure, he justifies it to himself by saying he can always get him later, the Feds are closing in, etc. But there's also the fact that Archie and the rest of the gang are there, and Frank clearly knows that it's the night of the big dance, everyone had a little adventure, no one got hurt, and these kids don't need to see a man gunned down right in front of them. Riverdale's innocence would be gone forever if he did that.
- Pie in the Face: A mook mistaking Archie for Red has him on knifepoint. Punisher, currently unarmed, deals with him with a cake to the face just as the guy realizes that he has the wrong man.
- Sequel Hook: The comic ends with a suggestion that Archie's pal Jughead is going to meet up with another popular Marvel Comics character; Wolverine.
- The list for possible destinations in the train station that Red escapes from Punisher to includes such destinations as Gotham, Ivy Town and Happy Harbor.
- Red takes his hostage Veronica to a building which stores giant balloon versions of Spider-Man, Archie Comics' own Captain Patriotic The Shield, and Sonic the Hedgehog.
- One of Red Fever's aliases is stated to be "Montana Bob". Bob Montana was the original creator of Archie.
- In a throw-away line, Sabrina says to a friend, "So I asked the Doctor if the Hosts of Hoggoth were really hoary."
- "That Wilkin Boy" is mentioned as being at the dance.
- Story-Breaker Team-Up: This comic, thanks to the setting being primarily Archie's, puts much less of an emphasis on Frank's common traits involving death and mayhem.
- Sue Donym: In Riverdale, Castle works under the name Castiglione (his family's original name).
- Unwilling Suspension: Red Fever ends up foiled when his leg ends up tangled in the rope for a parade balloon, and is lifted high up in the air.
- Versus Title: Of old-school Universal Horror variety.
- Weird Crossover: Admit it, a violent antihero vigilante visiting a normal high school isn't really expected.