“Mankind’s two ultimate nightmares come together in mortal combat, and whoever wins – we lose. On the remote planet Ryushi, a small ranching community becomes an unwilling participant in a deadly ritual: extraterrestrial Predators have seeded Ryushi with Alien eggs in order to create the ultimate hunt. But what the Predators don’t know is that an Alien queen egg is amongst those they’ve sent as potential hunting stock, and when the Predators arrive, the hunters become the hunted amidst a monumental swarm of Aliens, and they may need to turn to the very same humans they regard as little more than potential trophies to give them any hope of survival.”
Aliens vs. Predator
“When the race of Predators tire of hunting easy prey, they capture an Alien Queen and force her to produce enough eggs to turn an abandoned planet into a controlled-population Alien game preserve. However, another Alien Queen accidentally winds up on the planet and a group of Predators finds themselves turned from hunter to hunted in the midst of a planet fully inhabited by Aliens! It’s a non-stop, fast-paced thriller!”
This is the start of it all. Without this particular story you would not be sat here reading this particular review on this website. Without Randy Stradley and his concept for an Aliens vs. Predator story, we wouldn’t have had the Alien vs Predator games that inspired Darkness to create this website or the Alien vs Predator movies that he turned the website into a news website for.
Conceived in a board meeting where Dark Horse was trying to create new ways of using their existing licenses, Randy Stradley brought the extra-terrestrial beasties together for the first time in November 1989 and this series proved to be hugely successful – obviously.
Do you all want to know a dirty little secret? The first time I read the book I just didn’t like it. Queue shock and horror! But this was mostly due to the visual side of the series. A known problem with Aliens vs. Predator was that multiple artists worked on the series. Despite the different artists, by-and-large the series looks like it fits very well into the franchise. The colony is presented in a way that makes it look very similar to Hadley’s Hope, giving it that pre-fabricated look.
There are a lot of minor little details that really made me smile too – such as the Yamaha logo on the hover bikes, the logos on the uniforms and backgrounds within the panels. The artists included a lot of detail.
But the colouring… Oh my lord. The colouring is definitely the thing I dislike most about the series. The colouring work is just awful. Aliens are blue one page, grey and purple another. Large swatches of bland colours are spread across the page which makes it look terribly dull.
The way the Aliens colours changes frequently, going from large blue beasts to some strange purple and grey creature frustrated me a lot. At one point, the character Scott also has his hair colour change. It is incredibly hard not to notice the horrendously inconsistent colouring, and quite frankly, the use of dull and dreary colours.
What I really want to see is a reprint of the first series with colouring done by Wez Dzioba. He was responsible for the colour-work on the special hardback book reprint of the first issue of Aliens vs. Predator (and Blood Time) that was included with the Collector’s Edition of Rebellion’s Aliens vs. Predator (2010).
Whilst Randy Stradley did a fantastic job at knitting the two franchises together in a very logical way, the decision to present the Predator character Broken Tusk as an anti-hero did cause some confusion in the way of the motivation of the other Predators. Whilst Stradley makes it clear that Broken Tusk is the leader, it isn’t until the Perry’s novelisation that we understand the other Predators are breaking the rules – I always hated how the Predators killed some unarmed humans in the comic series. The novelisation goes to explain that a younger, less experienced Predator took over the group.
Character-wise, Stradley does a commendable job at making his main character – Machiko Noguchi – likeable and well rounded. She felt believable and was a nice driving force throughout the series. I believe her decisions at the end of the story were better handled in the novelization but it’s important to take into account the limitations and restrictions of the comic format.
He has a number of secondary characters that are also well written and presented – whether we’re supposed to like them or dislike them, they do their job. In particular we have Hiroki as Machiko’s support and motivation whilst we have Ackland as the human antagonist.
I’m able to appreciate Aliens vs. Predator much more now, now that I’m able to look past the horrid colour work that seeps from the pages into my eyes. Aliens vs. Predator is a brilliant start to the franchise and one I would love to see completely redone by Wez Dzioba as a special re-release. I would snap that straight up like a face-hugger seeing John Hurt’s face for the first time.
Written again by Randy Stradley, Blood Time is a short that focuses on the culture of the Predators as defined in Aliens vs. Predator. With art by Phil Norwood and colours by Frank Lopez, Blood Time suffers from the same problem as many of these older comics – really bad colouring.
Lopez uses bright, washed out colours, not allowing much detail into the pages. Tonally, it just doesn’t feel like it fits into either series. As with issue #1 of the original series, a re-colouring of this short was done by Wez Dzioba for the special hardback book for Rebellion’s Aliens vs. Predator (2010) and it looks much better!
The darker colours make the comic feel like it fits in both the Alien and Predator franchise and a better level of detail is included.
Storywise, Blood Time, introduces us to the character of Top Knot. Like Broken Tusk, he is a leader of one of the Predator tribes who returns in War. The hand-less Predator also appears again in Duel. The narrative follows a young hunter known as Two Stripes, revealing just how strictly the Predators adhere to the rules of the hunt. It’s a very nice little short and I enjoyed reading it.
“The violent clash of Alien against Predator left the planet Ryushi a desolate wasteland. But now, years later, a mysterious alien beacon beams a distress signal from the supposedly abandoned world. When Marine ship Brilliant responds to the call for aid, they step neck deep into disaster!”
Like the two stories before Duel it comes from the mind of Randy Stradley with artwork by Javier Saltares, Jimmy Palmiotti and colours by James Sinclair. Duel is a two issue story that takes place after the events of Aliens vs. Predator and returns us to Ryushi, now a world completely void of human life after Machiko leaves the planet at the end of the initial series.
The basic premise of the story is that a small ship of Colonial Marines are redirected to Ryushi to investigate a distress call being emitted from the planet.
There are several things, narratively, that I quite liked about Duel. At this point in the series’ history we obviously hadn’t had much interaction between the Alien and Predator series so much of reader’s expectations would have been based on the previous releases so when Randy Stradley sets up the unknown distress call and starts to build towards a Derelict ship (like in Alien and featured in various other Alien comics), it comes as a surprise when they find a damaged Predator ship.
It was only natural that after bringing the Aliens and Predators properties together that we would also see a combination of that in the form of a hybrid. Duel was the first time we ever saw a hybrid and whilst that trend has continued in the video games and movies (there was even one in the Aliens Predator CCG and one coming up in the Prodos Games Miniature Game), this has only ever happened twice in the comics (the second and final time was in Deadliest of Species).
I’m pretty fond of the Predalien as featured in Duel. It is included in the opening pages of the series but it’s kept hidden, teasing at the creature. When it eventually births, it surprises the Colonial Marines (and I would have imagined, when this was being seen for the first time, the reader) and creates all kind of hell.
The design is based off of the Dave Dorman design and I am a big fan of the design. Instead of the floppy dreadlocks that are typically added to the designs nowadays, the Predalien is shown to be a larger, spikier version of the Alien and I think the design works really.
Character-wise the story has very little to offer. The only moment that had me surprised was when one particular character (who had received the most attention, I feel) was killed. Other than that these are just cookie-cut characters here to be taken down by the various extra-terrestrial beasties.
For those Predator fans out there, Duel also sees the return of the young Predator who lost his hand in Blood Time. In a somewhat too similar style as the first series, we see the Predator and Marine survivor team-up against the Predalien. I wasn’t really keen on this recycled move so soon after initial series.
That said, there was a great moment I always love to see – very similar to Three World War – where Aliens burst up from hiding places under the sand to surprise the Colonial Marines. I really hope to see something similar to this in a theatrical setting.
I always feel like a bit of a broken record when I comment on the visual side of most of these older comics. Anyone who frequently reads my reviews will know how much I dislike some of these older comics – primarily for the colour work – because they look bland, boring and undetailed. Duel is no different.
Despite the poor colouring and the lack of memorable characters, I did really enjoy Duel. It’s very nice to see the very first introduction to the Predalien and to return to the aftermath of Ryushi.
“First blood or last breath – those are the only choices in Aliens vs. Predator: War! The Predators converge on the seed planet Bunda for the biggest bug hunt yet, each taking position to draw first blood. Machiko, a human who has been inducted into the Predator clan, is forced into a duel in order to claim her rightful place in the upcoming hunt. But when a new group of humans shows up, what began as sport becomes serious business.”
War is separated into 2 parts, both of which are written by Randy Stradley but both art teams are different. Part 1 is drawn by Chris Warner and James Sinclair is responsible for the colour work. This time Sinclair provides a darker look and more appropriate colour pallet than his work on Duel and it looks absolutely gorgeous! I was very pleased with how the first part looked but unfortunately it comprises of a single issue and doesn’t last throughout the series.
Mike Manley, Jim Hall and Mark Heike provide the pencils for Part 2, along with Chris Chalenor doing colours and Ricardo Villagran doing the inkwork.
War serves as the direct sequel to the original Aliens vs. Predator series following Machiko Noguchi now that she’s made the decision to join with the Predators. It also acts as a sequel to the Aliens series, Berserker (or Frenzy as it is renamed in the Omnibus) and brings Jess, Ellis and Lara together with Machiko. It also features a very brief appearance from the Predator from Duel.
Part 1 introduces us to how Machiko is getting on in the Predator culture and Randy makes it all very believable. Through her we are given information and perspective on the just how the Predators think and behave. Randy starts to develop on the rules of the Predator culture, building strict rules into their hunting society. While Randy uses the word honor once, he doesn’t quite emphasize the space-Ninja attitude that Steve Perry infuses in the novelizations.
I’m very happy with how Randy Stradley handles Machiko’s attempts at integrating into the Predator society but just isn’t able to. He slowly paces her failure over the course of the series until the conclusion where she has to make a choice between the Predators and her human brethren. It worked very well and came across as very believable.
Machiko is largely kept away from the characters from Berserker until the end of the series and they don’t receive too much in way of attention. Their arc is largely somewhat of a repeat of Berserker in that Ellis has to step up to save the day. And for some strange reason Jess gets a pigmentation change and is no longer black. Their parts of the story are largely unimportant.
Something I’m not terribly fond of is how the comics tend to handle the hybrids. I can forgive the original series for their lack of variety in the Alien designs due to it predating Alien3 when the trait was first demonstrated, War is set after Duel which included the first appearance of the Predalien. Both War and Duel were written by Randy Stradley so I find it kind of irritating that he didn’t continue using the Predaliens when he clearly showed Predators being face-hugged.
At the risk of constantly repeating myself, the artwork of Part 2 was largely disappointing to me. The colour work of the comics of this period really do nothing for me. The colouring washes out any detail to be found within the linework and this continues throughout the series. The colour pallet is dull and features very little in way of shading and variety.
I did enjoy reading this series as I find Machiko to be an interesting character. So far, she’s the only human to have spent more than a single incident in the company of the Predators and I much prefer Randy Stradley’s interpretation of their culture than the alternative Steve Perry or John Shirley offer.
“Aliens loose in the Tokyo subways of the future is bad news. But when these monstrous beasts are pursued by Predators, the fiercest hunters in the galaxy, bad quickly becomes worse. Caught in the middle is Becca Shaw, a reckless journalist on the trail of Gideon Suhn Lee, a mysterious techno-billionaire who won’t let anything stand between him and the secrets to immortality that the Predators hold. When Becca and Gideon clash, it might be the Aliens and Predators that run for cover!”
Eternal is one of many Aliens/vs/Predator stories from the pen of Ian Edginton (and his first of two in this book). This comic is easily one of my favourite Aliens vs. Predator stories. It is set in an undefined point in the 21st century and sees the character of Gideon Suhn Lee determined to locate some Predators.
You see, he is some hundreds of years old having discovered that by consuming the heart of the Predators he is able to extend his own life. Over the many decades, he has become obsessed with his source of eternal youth and has acquired his own archive of Predator technology and even has a crashed ship in his possession.
Getting further into the ship, they find the Predator’s store of Alien eggs and a small number of Aliens escape into the sewer system beneath the tech-noir Japanese city the comic is set in.
Typically I’m not a fan of stories featuring the Aliens in contemporary settings, however, this one works really well, keeping their existence contained and along with Edginton’s use of Lee and his second main character, Rebecca McBride, a journalist, he crafts an intriguing and driving story.
His characters are largely interesting and a good use of dialogue boxes help keep the information flowing, driving a very nice pace that carries well throughout the entire comic.
The artwork provided by Alex Maleev and colours from Perry McNamme (and Dark Horse Digitial) create a very moody and atmospheric feel that supports to the underworld and slightly noirish feel of Edington’s story.
Eternal is another strong entry in this essential collection of comics for Aliens vs. Predator fans.
Written and drawn by Alex Maleev (who also did artwork for Eternal) and colours by Staissi Brandt, Old Secrets is a six page short originally published in AvP – Annual #1. The artwork is very nice, with Brandt bringing a dark and moody tone to Maleev’s artwork. That said, Old Secrets is an inconsequential story that doesn’t add anything to the franchise.
It features a priest telling the story of Saint George slaying a dragon (a Predator) and ends with revealing that he is aware of a crashed Predator ship with Alien eggs aboard. Nothing really happens and upon turning the final page this comic disappears into the depths of your memory as if you’d never read it in the first place.
Ending Volume 1 is The Web, a short scripted Ian Edginton (making this his 2nd story in Volume 1) and artwork by Derek Thompson and Brian O’Connell. For a short, I rather enjoy The Web. For one the art is all in black and white. There aren’t too many Alien/vs/Predator comics like this but I tend to really like the looks of them.
Without the dubious colour work of most the comics of the time, we’re able to focus on and appreciate the lovely line work. In particular the strange and ornate designs used by Thompson are really brought out. I loved how biomechanical many of the designs were and it really evoked that feeling of strangeness that we all love from Giger’s environments in Alien.
I also really liked the design of the Alien and the Predator. Thompson made some small changes to their masks adding extra details that normally wouldn’t have stood out or would have been washed away by the colour. The Aliens retained their classic, deadly appearance and no abstract interpretations were added. They looked fantastic.
Something else I quite like about The Web is that the story is a spiritual sequel to the original series in that in includes the character of Robert Sheldon. He was the son of the family that first encountered – and by encountered, I mean gets slaughtered by – the Predators. He has turned insane, setting up a trap in which he lures Predators to his world with the temptation of a ship in distress and a renewable hive of Aliens and then totally annihilates the Predators once caught in his web.. Web…You see what I did there?
Whilst Edington doesn’t go into detail, Robert Sheldon has now become afflicted with some illness that has left his body encased in strange biomechanical device that is loving designed and drawn by Thompson. Much of what I saw in this short also reminds me of Dune – or what I imagine Dune to look like when reading it. I thoroughly enjoyed the visuals in The Web.
Much of the other characters are non-consequential and there is no emotional connection to them. The only reason the other human characters become involved in the story is to steal the computer that is emitting the distress signal. That said, I do like that Edington didn’t pull his punches and ended the volume with a bang.
Despite the dubious colouring of the majority of the series in Volume 1, I strongly recommend this book to any Aliens/vs/Predator fans. It provides the bulk of the main series (Machiko’s) and those shorts connected to that series. As well as offering the essential Alien vs Predator story in one offering, it also contains the fan-favourite Eternal and the beautifully drawn Web.
If you haven’t already ventured into the world of Aliens vs. Predator comics, then this is a perfect in.
From Aaron Percival, here at AvPGalaxy.net, I award Aliens vs. Predator – Volume #1 with a 4.5 out of 5.