"Predator: Life and Death #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Dan Abnett
Illustrated by Brian Albert Thies
Colored by Rain Beredo
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 2nd, 2016
Dark Horse Comics has been weaving the Alien, Predator, and now Prometheus film franchises together in an overall comic universe for a bit. Predator: Life and Death is the first chapter in the next phase that began with the maxi-series Fire and Stone. This book picks up a year after that comic and 43 years after Aliens. Nothing has really changed in that time. Weyland-Yutani is still a shady mega-corporation. There are still terrifying monsters out in space ready to kill any human that walks by, and there are still plenty of soldiers to serve as cannon fodder for said monsters.
Unlike Fire and Stone, which was spread out over five writers and a number of artists, Life and Death is helmed by Dan Abnett, working off of an outline that was provided to him. I'm not yet sure how this will interact with any other potential titles in this universe, however it's not hard to figure out.
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Predator: Life and Death kicks off with Weyland-Yutani sending small band of soldiers to planet LV-797 (aka Tartarus, the planet in Prometheus) to look for a rival corporation that may be stealing resources. When they get there, they meet up with some Predators, and you can probably see where this is going. Cue massive amounts of bloodshed and many shots fired without a single target being hit. Seriously, these are trained soldiers that just shoot at anything that may or may not be there. Granted, Abnett does make it a point that these guys are on edge after another mission, but still.
Aside from the Weyland-Yutani rep, Lorimer and the group's captain, the rest of the soldiers are interchangeable. Most aren't given names because you don't need to know them. When the credits roll, they'll be listed as “Victim #3” or “Angry Gun Wielding Army Guy #4.”
Although the story is somewhat on rails, the artwork can take your breath away. Brian Albert Thies caught my eye early on with a couple brilliant panels showing a cloaked Predator. The landscape is distorted when you try to look “through” it, so you see this rough silhouette of the creature. The next panel has it turning to face the reader, so you get a lot more detail even though it's basically invisible, but you can still see the horizon behind it. This is also a testament to Rain Beredo's colors, as they really tie the whole shot together.
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Later on there are some gorgeous landscape shots showing the abandoned spaceships amid massive amounts of plant overgrowth. This gives an immediate sense of how big the creatures from this planet are and what they're capable of and, perhaps more importantly, how small mankind is in comparison.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Predator comic without some gore, and I'm pleased to say that Thies delivers this in spades. There's a panel with a dude's head just exploding. It's there one second and gone the next, leaving a misty cloud of blood, brains, and bone.
You probably know what you're getting into with Predator: Life and Death. Some soldiers are going to run around the wilderness, slowly hunted by this alien creature. Many will die. A few will probably survive. Someone might get in the choppa. If you're a diehard Predator (and/or Aliens) fan, you'll dig this book. That goes without saying. Otherwise, there's not much separating this from your generic monster / slasher movie with a disposable set of characters.