Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review - Predator: Life and Death #1 (@DarkHorseComics)


"So, Mr. Lorimer...what kind of trouble are you walking us into?"

When it comes to warriors, few are as even-matched as the Predator. The alien has capabilities that make it a ruthless and cunning combatant, but despite all that Predator can still get away with capitalizing on human stupidity. Predator: Life and Death #1 from Dark Horse Comics is the latest to pit Predator ingenuity against humanity's military bravado. The issue is written by Dan Abnett, illustrated by Brian Thies and colored by Rain Beredo.

Colonial Marines on the planet Tartarus battle extraterrestrial hunters over the possession of a mysterious horseshoe-shaped spaceship of unknown origin. The Weyland-Yutani rep wants the ship, and the marine captain wants to protect her crew. But neither objective is likely when a band of Predators attacks!

At this point, you pretty much know what to expect any time you mention Xenomorphs or Predators. Abnett relies on their reputations for being notoriously savage and fierce in Predator: Life and Death #1 to keep things moving along pretty quickly. The story does feel a little familiar to those who are familiar with the Predators involved, but that doesn't mean Abnett can't add in his own take on it. Abnett effectively paces the plot in a way that builds up plenty of suspense and a pretty bold ending that sets the tone for the remainder of the series. The dialogue is largely military banter throughout, relying on the interactions among characters as a means of building up to that ending and effectively characterizing the players.

Thies' artwork has a nostalgic feel to it in terms of character designs and settings. The characters look like old-school extras in G.I. Joe, sporting all manner of jungle fatigues and a classic uniform look that's been stylized for a space setting. This look is furthered by Beredo's emphasis on military greens and greys, giving the entire book an almost washed out look. Thies does get the chance to explore two different locales in a spaceship and a jungle, both of which help to characterize the world of Predator: Life and Death #1. The Predator is illustrated with everything that makes him easily recognizable, but there's one page in particular where he slowly materializes agains the backdrop of the troops landing in a panel that's downright eerie.

Predator: Life and Death #1 plays on many of the themes familiar in the Alien and Predator franchises as a means of re-introducing aliens from the latter. It's pretty clear by the end of the issue that space military individuals typically let their bravado get the best of them in combat. Abnett's script is clean and straightforward, moving from start to finish methodically and getting pieces in position. Thies' illustrations are great at blending characters with environments, even skewing a little gory towards the end. Predator: Life and Death #1 is going to appeal to fans of the character and those looking for a some good old fashioned space exploration gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Predator: Life and Death #1 is in stores March 2.

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