Predator: Hunters pays tribute to an era when Dark Horse’s Predator comic franchise was fresh, new, and exciting. The story is compelling and the art looks badass!
Predator: Hunters is a five-part limited series and a direct sequel to two classic Dark Horse Predator titles. It is about a group of survivors that have all encountered the Predators in the past and have gathered together to hunt them down. There is Enoch Nakai, a Navajo from the 4 part Predator: Big Game series. Enoch’s military base was attacked and destroyed by one of the monsters so he hunted it down and took its head. Next up we have Mandy Graves, whose special black ops unit came up against one of the creatures in New Jersey during Dark Horse’s 4 part Bad Blood series. Mandy was the only survivor of her unit and her right hand was mangled badly in the confrontation with the Predator. Then we have Raphael Herrera, a former drug trafficker whose entire operation was destroyed by a Predator. Tyler Swain is also part of the team. He was a private contractor for the army in Afghanistan when they were attacked and everyone was killed by one of the hunters while he remained hidden. Finally we have Jaya Soames, the leader of the group. Jaya is the great granddaughter of Captain Edward Soames, one of the first to discover the existence of these monsters and the first to hunt them down. He has passed his legacy down through the generations and now it is Jaya’s time to lead the hunt.
Jaya, Herrera, and Swain show up at an old gas station where Enoch is working. Jaya convinces him to join them on their mission to hunt down a Predator. The Predator is believed to be on Kehua, a secluded island in the South Pacific. The nearby island Amelia is inhabited by humans that settled there generations ago with Malcolm Bunting. Malcolm decided that the human race was a blight on the Earth and sought to form a colony as far away from the rest of humanity as he could. Throughout the decades his legacy has also been passed down from generation to generation to his great-grandson Dr. Henry Bunting.
The team of hunters arrive at Amelia under the guise of a scientific research vessel and are greeted graciously by Bunting and the rest of his colony. The following day a team of the hunters head to Kehua and are attacked by the Predator. After some casualties they manage to take it down relatively easily. They noticed that the Predator has no tech and it relies only on wooden spears, swords, and masks with which to hunt. They also discover an old man locked in a cage at the Predator’s camp. They release the man from the cage and he begs them to leave immediately telling them that there are three more Predators on the island. Before they can get away they are attacked by the other three. The team manages to escape and makes their way back to the ship, where Bunting shows up with the rest of the islanders dressed up as Predators. The islanders take control of the ship and bring the core team of hunters back to Kehua to hunt them down just like the Predators did. Jaya is saved from the attacking colonists by one of the aliens and makes her way back to the ship. After taking back her ship, Jaya flies back to the Island in a helicopter to rescue Swain, Enoch,and Graves. She guns down the islanders as well as two of the three remaining Predators. Jaya spares the life of the third Predator for saving hers and, as a thank you, drops a bag with some Predator tech down to the Predator. The story ends with the alien warrior reclaiming its dignity and activating the nuclear self-destruct mechanism on its gauntlet to end its decades long captivity with honor.
Chris Warner, senior editor for Dark Horse, delivers a story that is as rich and complex as the characters he weaves into it. Each character is represented in a way that makes you want to know more about them and care about what happens to them. Warner does a wonderful job of taking the characters of Enoch Nakai and Mandy Graves and continuing their stories within the context of the relationships that they have with the Predators. Each character’s story is fleshed out and their motivations for hunting the Predators are made very clear. One particularly interesting aspect of the story is the idea of a pack of primal Predators in exile on an isolated island with only primitive armor and weaponry to hunt and survive with. There is also a sinister feel to Henry Bunting and the inhabitants of Amelia Island. Sometimes the beasts are not the real monsters and the hunters become the hunted. Warner uses these themes seamlessly.
The artwork in this series is so intense and visceral. The action scenes are gripping and the emotion that is drawn in the details on the characters faces tell a story of their own. Francisco Ruiz Velasco’s concept and execution of the Predator’s primitive armor and weaponry is very cool and even more menacing and intimidating then their high-tech alien armor. His use of color in this series is also magnificent. The jungle scenes are very lush and dense and, when the need calls for it, the blood and gore is just the right amount. Doug Wheatley’s cover art is also something to be marveled at as well as the variants by Velasco. This book looks as beautiful as it does savage and primal.
It has been 30 years since the first Predator film and Dark Horse has continued to produce some of the most intense and exciting action with these Predator comic books over the decades. This limited series is no exclusion to that and it takes its place among some of the classic Predator titles like Big Game and Bad Blood.
If you are a fan of the franchise you will not be disappointed and if you are new to it, this will make you want more.