Thursday 15 September 2022

Alien vs Predator in Marvel Comics

Predator follows stablemate Alien with a new line of Marvel Comics.

Our very own US-based stellar scribe, Nick Smith, grabs his latest comic book bounty, from TBS Comics in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and joins the hunt in Marvel Comics' Predator.

Guest post by Nick Smith

Predator’s quite the thing right now, thanks to a certain popular Hulu and Disney+ movie. While in TBS Comics, my local comic bookstore recently, I overheard a middle-aged man ask the clerk, ‘where are the Alien and Predator comics?’

‘In the box marked A,’ the clerk replied without missing a dour beat. While the customer dashed to this stash, I made a beeline for Predator #1, a new Marvel title written by Ed Brisson (Iron Fist) with art by Kev Walker (2000 AD’s ABC Warriors, Marvel Zombies), colours by Frank D’Armata (Wolverine, Iron man) and lettering by the Eisner-nominated Clayton Cowles (Star Wars, Batman, The Wicked + The Divine).

On the strength of this first issue, Predator wouldn’t last five pages in the comic book jungle. Walker’s art has been tremendous elsewhere but here it looks rushed and sloppy. The main character, Theta, looks different at the start of the story, compared to later on. When the Predator’s face is shown for the last time, he looks like a chubby Kabuki player – not scary or threatening at all.

Writing-wise, the introduction is confusing and there’s a predictable character-seeking-retribution plot. This is unsurprising considering that Brisson was lauded for his short-lived 2020 Ghost Rider comic, starring the Spirit of Vengeance. Since the invulnerable Theta lacks depth or originality, I found myself rooting for her computer Sandy instead. At least Sandy has a logic – the narrative breaks the Predator rules of honour when an unarmed character gets killed.

Even though five editors put this book together, they failed to get their tenses straight in a ‘story so far’ blurb. This adds to the impression that this release was rushed to tie in with the latest Predator film.

It’s not all bad news. D’Armata’s colours give the planet Damara a truly alien quality. Cowles’ clean lettering helps make the cartoonish visuals easier to follow.

Predator movies have rarely lived up to the promise of the first film, although their batting average has improved with the home run of Prey, directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane). It’s been much the same story in comics, with Dark Horse publishing many insipid renditions of the alien hunter. Now Marvel Comics has the reigns, I hope it produces an adventure as fitting as Trachtenberg's take.

Its bedfellow benchmark is Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s Alien comic, also from Marvel Comics. This year’s annual has a tight storyline, sort of brings back a classic character and bodes well for a new series with art by Julius Ohta (Captain Marvel).

While I won’t be picking up the rest of Predator’s 6-part story, I will be hunting for Alien #1: Icarus. The recent Alien comics have shown us how sci-fi horror should be done, accompanied by some meticulous art.

In this creative battle of Alien versus Predator, the xenomorphs have more bite.

Have you read Marvel Comics' Alien and Predator series? Let me know in the comments below.

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