The first issue of Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone brought the titular creatures all in each others’ grill-mixes after an intriguing game of cat and mouse.
Can the second issue keep up all of that fancy footwork when the shit finally goes down? Is it good?
Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #2 (Dark Horse Comics)
Let’s start with the good:
Ariel Olivetti’s art is for real. And that’s not just some contrived slang. The guy’s art is so good that this interstellar slugfest and its constituents are downright tangible; each panel is dripping with painterly detail, from the Predator’s swaying dreadlocks to Elden’s sinewy jaw ligaments to the cold steel corridors of the Perses. To put it bluntly, his depictions of the Aliens, Predators and Elden are at once terrifying, stunning, and captivating in a way that would make H.R. Giger nod with approval.
As far as story progression goes, those of you hoping this issue would step up its game in the action department will be pleased: writer Chris Sebela slow-pitches Olivetti numerous sequences of grisly, gore-charged mayhem to depict and Olivetti knocks each and every one of them out of the park. Some of these blood-spattering scenes will have you shuddering for days to come.
This is what it must feel like to watch some storied sports rivalry on television without knowing a lick about why the two teams hate one another.
This must be what someone feels like after someone’s ostensibly perfect online dating match turned out to be a steaming dud; the pieces were all there, the attraction was undeniable, the flirting leading up to the date was loin-rustling… and then things just didn’t click.
This must be… well, you get the point.
Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone shares and exhibits one of the main flaws that the AvP and Prometheus films did: prioritizing spectacle over cogent narrative.
I came away unenthused as hell from Elden’s first encounter with the Predators for the simple fact that they serve as nothing more than gnarly-looking stepping stones to make Elden look dangerous. Sure, the fights look cool and everything, but…the Predators have been around for what? Centuries and centuries? Intergalactic bad-asses since the age of the dinosaurs? They’ve been hunting Aliens for so long that they purposely seed planets with Alien eggs just so youngin Predators can undergo their rite of passage by hunting them.
Hell, there was even a Space Jockey/Engineer helmet on Wolf’s trophy wall in the beginning of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. Surely, there must be some deep-seated feud going on between the Engineers and Predators that’d make Edison and Tesla jealous, right?
So now we have the mouthpiece for the Engineers in the series (thus far) duking it out with multiple Predators and all the character can muster is undeserved, patronizing equivalents of “Get off me you filthy animals,” and “You guys think you’re tough?” when he handles them with aplomb?
Maybe it’s my personal bias and the fact that I grew up with the Alien and Predator movies long before Prometheus was even a concept… but I was hoping the relationship between the Yautja and the Mala’kak would be more adversarial and significant in nature. Something more resonant.
You could have substituted the Predators with a tandem of John Travoltas from Battlefield Earth and it wouldn’t have made a damned lick of a difference.
In other words, Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #2 brushes the battle between Elden and the Preadators aside with such a thinly veiled instance of bad-ass decay that somewhere Lt. Worf, the poster boy for said trope is doing this.
The human voice we’re given in Francis isn’t as disappointing as Elden is for the Engineers, but apparently anything noteworthy he’s done is all in the past. The guy’s starting to grow on me, however, if only for the fact that his knowledge will probably figure decisively into the outcome of the series overall. (Even if he does have to go out in a blaze of glory.)
Is It Good?
Alright, I got that off my chest. Is this issue worth a purchase? Maybe. I can see fans of the two more established franchises scratching their heads, wondering when their darlings are going to get some shine — but there’s still some time for that. And at least everything’s real purdy to look at.
It’s pretty obvious what is going to happen next time around, due to what happens between the Aliens and Elden at the end of the issue: Super-Mutant Aliens!, so if that sounds like your bag, by all means.
Otherwise, you’ll have to get like me: patiently waiting for the next issue and hoping that the whole shebang comes together down a more satisfying way. (And the Aliens and Predators get to prove they’re not second bananas to the newcomer.)