This was not at all what I expected when I picked up this book.
I vaguely recall the Predator comics when I was a kid. I loved the original movie, so it was something I recognized, but for some reason it was never something I gravitated towards. Comics for me were all about the superheroes and mixing in extended universe stuff that the movies always ignored did not seem like my bag.
Oh how wrong I was.
Writer: Mark Verheiden
Artist: Chris Warner and Ron Randall
Publisher: Dark Horse
This collection brings together “Concrete Jungle” and some other stories from the original run of Predator comics (Predator: Concrete Jungle TP #1-4, Predator: Cold War TP #1-4 and Predator: Dark River TP). Although not as big a name maker for Dark Horse Comics as the Alien comics were, this particular series did have something extra interesting going for it in that it was the inspiration for Predator 2–a movie I think never gets enough credit.
Now, there are some differences. This comic reads like a Michel Bay wet dream, with massive firefights, huge destructive battles across New York City (and later the frozen tundra of Russia), and all of it starring Schaefer–the very big and very angry brother of Dutch–Arnold’s character from the original movie.
Dutch has been missing since the “incident,” and the subsequent government involvement in the ongoing Predator issues in NYC reveal more info to him about Dutch’s whereabouts. If you’ve seen the movie, the plot beats are almost all there: gang wars, subway killings, and cops taking on intergalactic hunters of the finest caliber.
Overall, this was a total surprise. I thought Predator 30th Anniversary: Original Comics Series was going to be more reminiscent of the gritty Aliens comics I remember from Dark Horse, and instead it was much more action flick in nature, but like a James Gunn directed one. Lots of humor and self referential pokes at itself, and just huge and amazingly silly explosions and fight scenes. So many of the characters are completely over the top and crazy, or pastiches of the norm–cop who wants to retire, badass who can’t be hurt, crazy gang leader, etc.
Still, I really enjoyed this trade. It was not in any way my favorite read, because it was just so bombastic and campy at times, but it felt like reading a guilty pleasure. I walked in expecting to see some Predators kick some humans in the face, and some humans to kick back; I got that much.
If nothing else, this feels like a time capsule. They’re on an alien world, or fighting in someone’s mind, and it doesn’t feel as dated.
Predator 30th Anniversary: Original Comics Series feels like a straight 80’s movie marathon: Soviet Union secrets, hammy dialog, you name it. This is a window to the past.
If you’re a Predator fan, and you have been looking for something to fill the gap with all the recently terrible movies, this might help you.
It also might make you look up tons of Predator clips online like I’ve been doing, which is not a bad way to spend a lunch break.