Predator Omnibus Volume 4 Review

Posted by Corporal Hicks on February 2, 2010 (Updated: 01-Jun-2014)

 Predator Omnibus Volume 4 ReviewIt’s been a while since I last reviewed Predator Omnibus 3 and thanks to the kind folks at Dark Horse, I now have my hands on Volume 4 to review. It’s the final volume to be released for Predator collection. Will this volume finally break through and feature good art as well as good plots? Only reading on through this review will tell.

Primal
Take one remote Alaskan wilderness. Add a lone Forest Ranger, a crazed grizzly, and an unexpected visitor from the stars. Mix well, and you’ve got a recipe for action. Throw in a forest fire, and you’ve got Predator: Primal — the most exciting Predator series to date!

Hardly a thrilling start, I must say. While the artwork was certainly an improvement over the normal lacklustre fare, it still falls short. The style just doesn’t suit the franchise, far too colourful and bright. Looks like something you’d see in a child’s comic. Primal was supposed to be something raw and exciting, pitting Predator against nature.

But it fell so short. The fights between the Predator and the bear were extremely disappointing, especially when the Predator had apparently been defeated. Either the artwork poorly represented it or the writer made the Predator into something so boring and weak that it just didn’t work.

 Predator Omnibus Volume 4 Review

The human characters were also flat and uninspiring. The opening pages have such weak and cheesy dialogue that the characters instantly annoyed me. The “lone Forest Ranger” doesn’t come across as admirable or likeable, but as an unintelligent character. There was no sympathy towards her character, no interest.

Primal just failed for me. The Predator vs. nature wasn’t interesting or exciting; the characters held no draw and I couldn’t connect to them. And the art just wasn’t right for Predator.

Nemesis
It is a time of secrets and evil: the time of Jack the Ripper, and his reign of terror on Victorian England. But not every trail of blood led to that diabolical figure. Captain Soames is quickly learning that 19th century London is home to more than one brutal murderer. It will take all of the captain’s cunning and skill to find and defeat his quarry. But Soames can’t shake the feeling that he’s met the killer before: a mythological man-eating demon that looks surprisingly like a Predator.

This is more like it! Boys and girls, we have a winner here! Easily one of the most enjoyable and gorgeous looking Predator comics out there! One of my favorite things about the Predator franchise is the story flexibility and Nemesis demonstrates it to great effect. We have a Predator running around Victorian London and an ex-army, Captain Edward Soames, hunting it down.

Not once did the story feel wrong. Soames was specifically requested due to an experience (Predator experience) he had while serving in India. The methods he used to fight the Predator felt realistic in terms of what he had at his disposal and none of it served to undermine the ferocity of the Predator. I especially liked the section when the London police find the Predator’s ship and speculate what it is – that it’s a foreign submarine.

 Predator Omnibus Volume 4 Review

With Soame’s narration, you get a lovely insight into his characters and his experiences – although I did find the font difficult to read at times since it was supposed to simulate handwriting.

The artwork was amazing too. Colin McNeil’s use of the dark shades creates a very moody atmosphere to go along with the grimy streets of London. His character design is simple yet effective, nicely representing the time in which the story takes place. Brilliant story.

Homeworld
Naturalist Maya Bergstrom and ex-combat photographer George Maxwell have just met a Predator for the first time — an ancient, legendary warrior unlike any other Predator. But he’s not here to hunt humans. His mission is to bring down three young, thrill-kill Predators that don’t follow their race’s warrior code. But Maya and George are on to something: the real reason Predators are flocking to Earth. If they’re right, the human race is in for one hell of a wake-up call!

I honestly did not expect to enjoy Homeworld. Toby Cypress’ style is so different that when I started to read the comic, it was his style that kept drawing my attention. Upon initial glance, it didn’t resonate with me. It just seemed out of place and distracting.

As I read on and found myself being pulled into the story set down by Jim Vance & Kate Worley, it all seemed to become natural. The story and the extremely unique artwork blended together to form an addictive read.

 Predator Omnibus Volume 4 Review

The narrative style of Homeworld worked really well, as was limiting the number of main characters. The focus that was put onto them as result really paid off in the emotional attachment I was able to make with them as they told their story. This really made me happy. One of the characters was criticizing the other due to her insistence on humanizing the Predators and their traits. I also enjoyed the theory that the Predators could have originated from Earth but been moved to another planet to evolve by another species.

Cypress’ artistic style make jump out at you to start with – in a negative way but as you read through, the almost mutated character design meshes with the story, giving it a very nightmarish feel to the comic. It goes hand-in-hand with the recollection of the characters and the story they are recounting.

Over all I actually enjoyed Homeworld immensely. Well worth a read.

Xenogenesis
For decades, the alien Predators have come to Earth, hunting humans as prey. But their actions haven’t gone unnoticed . . . years of research have revealed their secrets. Now, the ultimate strike team of rogues and mercenaries–armed to the teeth with state-of-the-art technology–has banded together to eliminate the Predators . . . permanently. Don’t miss the battle that will spark the war!

Xenogenesis was Dark Horse’s last attempt to reboot the Alien/vs/Predator series. Initially I enjoyed the Aliens Xenogenesis but upon a recent re-read, not so much. I can’t even remember the AvP one but the Predator one shares a trait with the Alien series – Failure. The idea was to update the properties and breath fresh life into them. You don’t do so by adding childish elements into the design and story.

 Predator Omnibus Volume 4 Review

The artwork makes it feel like I’m reading a G.I.Joe comic. In particular, the team’s armor design is awful. They are exaggerated designs that make it seem as if the creative team looked to Marvel for their inspiration.  Dave Stuart’s work is far too colourful. It projects the wrong tone for the comic and as such makes it feel nothing like a Predator comic.

The story is equally as weak with dull and uninteresting characters. Many story elements  – the humans successfully besting the Predators and starting a small conflict – were blown out of proportion and just fell flat. It simply wasn’t a good entry in the comic library for Predator.

Hell Come A Walkin’
It’s the Civil War . . . A nation is divided against itself and the once green countryside runs red with blood. Even as the conflict destroys towns and families it serves as bait . . . Bait for a Predator. When two opposing bands of soldiers bear witness to the Predator’s gruesome atrocities, they realize they have an enemy greater than each other. But can they lay aside their differences long enough to defeat their common foe?

Hell Come A Walkin’ is a perfect example of a Predator comic. Nancy Collin’s script highlights just how flexible the Predator franchise is. We’re taken back to the American Civil War where the two warring sides must band together to defeat the Predator. Collin takes the time to give all the main players a decent back story. She lets us know exactly who these people are and what they’re fighting for.

 Predator Omnibus Volume 4 Review

The artwork was fabulous too. Dean Ormston’s use of shadows and darkness in his colours create an an extremely effective mood that carries throughout the comic. It emulates the dark and foreboding feeling that the characters feel due to the war they’re fighting and the Predator hunting them.

The Predator design is really impressive. The artwork helps portray the Predator as the cold-blooded killer it is, especially with some of the full-page images of it. I really enjoyed Hell Come A Walkin’, the story drew me right in and the artwork kept me turning the page.

Captive
Tyler Stern is a reclusive billionaire industrialist who has everything. Everything except his own living, breathing Predator. But with the help of some friends in high places, it’s not long before Stern has that, too. Fascinated by the creature, he creates a biosphere to study the alien killing machine in its own environment. But has the billionaire’s fascination turned to obsession? Stern may be studying the Predator, but it’s becoming clear who the real captive is.

Dean Ormston’s style continues to impression. His work is extremely engaging. His use of colours and dark tones add depth to the look and feel of Captive. Ormston’s artwork effectively conveys the emotion of the scene in question. I was particularly fond of the panel in which Dr Stern’s face is illuminated by the green of the computer and Colonel Falkner is shrouded by shadows in the background. I could feel the tension between the two.

 Predator Omnibus Volume 4 Review

Gordon Rennie’s script does an amazing job at making the comic feel far bigger than it is. The 32-page issue managed to feel like it was packed with so much more. While the comic did contain clichéd elements within the storyline and the characters – what are stereotypes but a shortcut for the reader to have an understanding of the character –  this really helped the comic move along and feel complete.

I even had an understanding for the Predator’s personality and his reasoning and goals by the end of the series. These are a pair I wouldn’t mind seeing return to lend their talent to future series.

Demon’s Gold
Demon’s Gold is a black and white short from the pen of Ron Marz. The short is told from point of view of an Incan child kidnapped by the Nazis and forced to lead them to a hidden treasure from the ancient Incan times. Claudio Castellini’s artwork is fantastic and he brings a great level of detail to the Predator and human characters.

What I found interesting were the echoes of Anderson’s AvP in Demon’s Gold. The Predator was residing in the depths of mountains apparently protecting Incan treasure, a gift from the gods. He also used a weapon that looked surprisingly like the Shuriken. I’m sure Anderson wasn’t aware of the comic – looking towards von Danicken for his inspiration – but it was nice to see the accident coherency between the mediums.

Over all I really enjoyed Volume 4. Primal and Xenogenesis where the only disappointing entries in an otherwise visually engaging volume. I was especially fond of the amount of stories that demonstrated the flexibility and interesting storylines that the Predator franchise is capable of generating. From Corporal Hicks, I award Predator Omnibus Volume 4 a 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4 Stars (4 / 5)
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