Round 2 of the sci-fi space titan throwdown between Aliens, Predators and Engineers from Prometheus kickstarts with Predator: Life and Death #1.
Is it good?
Predator: Life and Death #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Welcome aboard USMC Rapid-Response Combat Ship Hasdrubal, where hard-ass female Space Marine Captain Paget and haughty Weyland-Yutani company rep, Lorimer, discuss their latest mission: Lorimer’s higher ups want to start their “terraformation and colonization initiative” on a planet named Tartarus and need Paget and her squad there to ensure that the process goes off without a hitch. Piece of cake, right?
Hold up, the planet is actually named Tartarus? The mythological implications aren’t lost on the good Captain either:
The subtle foreshadowing for what might take place on Tartarus isn’t lost on us either.
Writer Dan Abnett’s setup plays like a well-crafted, if a bit wordy mash-up of the beginnings to the classic Predator and Aliens films and fans of either series should pick up on the familiar vibes and tropes being served: Smarmy W-Y company man who surely doesn’t have the most humanitarian interests in mind; a Space Marine Captain (who looks a bit like a blonde version of head-shaved Sigourney Weaver) leading her crew of hot-tempered bad-asses into a situation they can’t comprehend; a dropship sequence with plenty of military lingo and soldiers in battle dress illumined by red light; and of course, the foreboding presence of our monster of choice — a Cloaking Device-d Predator who stalks our protagonists in heat-haze silhouette.
Things get interesting when our crew finally touches down: Tartarus is (what else?) a sweltering environment, and as the Space Marines try to make sense of their findings they stumble upon a survivor who resembles the late Casey Kasem, spouting portentous lines such as “No one should have come here. Not you. Not us. Not anyone. Because this all belongs to them. And now you do too,” as he leads them to a mysterious, U-shaped crashed spaceship. Is he referring to the Predators? The Engineers? Something inscrutable that we have yet to learn about?
The artwork by Brian Albert Thies is thick-lined and scratchy and when combined with Rain Beredo’s purposely drab coloring makes for a befittingly bleak and dreary planet Tartarus. Thies’ Predator designs are a bit plain at first glance but nice homages to the limber, tribal-spirited look of Kevin Peter Hall’s hunter from the original film. The Predator’s unique bio-mask shape (horns on the bottom) and a moment where the mask’s eyes flash red (perhaps the Predator switching its visual frequency) are impressive bits of detail and establish well one of the otherworldly hunter’s more amusing qualities; he’s not only more physically imposing than we puny humans — he towers over us technologically as well.
Predators come strapped up, son.
Is It Good?
Predator: Life and Death #1 is a lot of setup with a bit of action thrown in at the end for good measure. It features gritty, scratchy art and dreary colors that fit the book’s hellish ambiance and Predator designs that should appeal to those that loved the agile looking Predator from the first film.
Abnett is taking his time to establish the first set of players in a game that will be sure to include the familiar, frightening faces of the Aliens and Engineers soon — so the slow burn in this first issue may very well be the calm before a varicolored bloodbath. Worth a look.