Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this month’s main event:
Aliens vs. Predators vs… the Engineers from Prometheus… maybe?
Someone ring the damn bell.
Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
The issue kicks off in media res; a pack of Predators is doing what they do best: No, not shaking their moneymakers. Trophy collecting.
They make quick work of some horned, demon-gorilla thing that looks like it might be Vinz Chlortho’s cousin and then set their sights on a far more daunting (which in Yautja-nese is codeword for “more rewarding”) prize: the Perses, a ship that escaped LV-223 (home of the ruined Prometheus) and vessel for a trio of human mercenaries with stolen alien weaponry, an imprisoned scientist named Francis and some malfunctioning (or is that enlightened?), cyborg-mutant thing that looks like a cross between an Engineer, a skinned, bleached Alien and Inside Out Boy. And a group of Aliens that follow him around like hunting dogs. What the hell?
I won’t lie — there are a lot of new characters thrown your way in this first issue of AvP: Fire and Stone #1, especially if you haven’t already read Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1; Dark Horse, you sly devils — take my money.
Doesn’t matter, though. Writer Christopher Sebela acclimates us to the cast just fine. He weaves the opposing groups through the Perses’ metal corridors with consummate skill — the Aliens a murder stampede of razor-sharp tails and snapping jaw-tongues; the Predators systematic and brutal and proficient; and just about everyone else scrambling for dear life. The titular creatures rush through air duct hatches, slice through attackers and then finally converge with each other and the hapless humans (sometimes separated only by a single spaceship hatch or a ceiling panel) — it’s well-designed, well-choreographed and enjoyable as hell.
By the time we’re done with this revolving-door game of cat and mouse — we’ve got a good feel for the characters, a good sense of the stakes at hand and an ending that has me wanting a whole lot more.
A lot of props go to Ariel Olivetti’s art too, of course. Not only is it painterly and beautiful in every panel, but unlike most works done in the style — the sense of fluidity and kineticism is never lost.
The character designs are spot on, those of the non-human creatures especially. I enjoyed the hell out of nuances like the Predators sporting distinctive bio-masks (ones that look like the Tracker and Berserker from Predators, another like a modified Jungle Hunter from the original and some completely new ones that would look pretty bad-ass on the big screen) and the Xenomorph like little Giger sculptures stamped into the page — layers of biomechanical, insectile, dark, sexy sleekness. Olivetti’s art gives this book the perfect feel. (The only inconsistency I noticed with Olivetti’s art is that Francis looks like he has a different hairstyle or different skin tone on certain pages, but that’s a minor gripe at worst.)
Another nice element of this comic is the sense of unprecedentedness that comes with the newly added elements from Prometheus: the film left a lot of unanswered questions about the Engineers’ relation to the Aliens; and of course, fueled plenty of debate about what a Predator/Engineer showdown would go down like.
Sebela teases at bringing some answers to those questions, but also raises plenty more within this story: Why is Francis so valuable? Who’s hunting who? And how the hell does Elden have a bunch of Aliens following him around like hunting dogs? Does he have some sort of robo-mind trick that makes them think he’s an Alien Queen? Is he being turned into one of them by the Engineers, somehow?
Sebela has a good opportunity to bring plenty of brand-new to the table and I hope he delivers some new benchmarks for the mythos.
Is It Good?
Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #1 is an excellent first issue. It will enthrall fans of the films or anyone looking for the setup to a fun, fascinating story.
It remains to be seen how well and intelligently the Prometheus story elements will be interlaced into the AvP fabric — but this first issue has got me feeling pretty damn good about it.