The new world was an unspoiled frontier perfect for colonization, a virtual paradise of boundless beauty and limitless resources, untouched by human hands…but not untouched, as the unsuspecting colonists soon discovered. Now marooned on a planet infested with the deadliest Alien species ever encountered, the colonists learn firsthand the Law of the Jungle: adapt or become extinct. And a little helping hand couldn’t hurt, inexplicably provided by the selfsame Predators who destroyed the colonists’ ship and made them prisoners in paradise. Are these extraterrestrial hunters actually showing sympathy for the humans’ plight, or do they have something even more monstrous in mind?
I can’t help but think about that scene from Ghostbusters 2 when I think of Civilized Beasts. You know the one where the ghost Titanic just shows up in New York. Those four words muttered by the dock works sum up the recent releases of Predator related literature but none more so than Civilized Beasts – “Better late than never.”
The first volume of the series, Thrill of the Hunt, was released near the UK release of the first AvP movie. I remember picking it up along with the McFarlane’s Hicks figure when I went to watch the movie. But like the movie Thrill of the Hunt failed to deliver and Civilized Beasts just kept getting pushed back.
And after four years it has finally made its way onto the shelves. The second and possibly final volume in a series influenced by Anderson’s AvP, Civilized Beasts and its precursor, Thrill of the Hunt, borrow from the temple ideas and those sorts of design aesthetics.
The story follows on directly from Thrill of the Hunt, picking up with the survivors of the camp eight months on. Now the obvious question is how can a sequel to a lacklustre book be any good. Well unlike AvP and its even worse sequel AvPR, Civilized Beasts manages to deliver quite an entertaining read.
Comics aren’t a format known for lots of character attention and that can be said for Civilized Beasts. Due to the limited page length and etc, the attention has to put onto specific characters and stories and Civilized Beast focuses that attention on Mac, a sidelines character from the first volume and from the two main characters from the first. I’ll be honest it wasn’t the best example of characters but their development and interactions were quite interesting. Especially compared to some other Alien/vs/Predator comics.
One of the biggest gripes about Thrill of the Hunt was the pencilled artwork. The lack of variety in the characters made for confusing moments and gave it a very dirty look. Not in the good dirty, as in tone of the comic but a lazy and untalented look. However, Civilized Beasts sports quite a unique and very nice visual style. There are some really beautiful panels.
Constant throughout the book is this theme of evolution, survival and the conflicts inherent with each. This is something that is carried over from Thrill of the Hunt. It gave it quite an connected feeling. It was something that was important to the venture and to the characters. The way it’s worded, however, makes it sound like Kennedy is preaching to us about some current controversy. One I feel like I’ve somehow missed.
It all works in context of the story though it just feels like I’m being slapped across the face with some sort of warning sign written in German. I know something bad is there, I just can’t remember enough German to actually read it.
Length was an issue. I managed to read the whole comic on the bus on the way to work. This became frustrating because I was really getting into it and it just ended. All felt like it’d finished before it started.
Like most recent Alien vs Predator material, this is definitely geared more towards the Predator fans. They’ll definitely be getting a kick out of this. There are text less pages of Predators just doing their thing. Ya’ know, pawning Aliens and building pyramids. The usual. It was actually quite nice. Just reminded me of how much potential the Predator franchise and race still has.
Speaking, I feel the need to just inform you that the Aliens get their asses handed to them, which seams to be the growing norm unfortunately. I look forward to the day when an Alien and Predator have a fair and interesting one-on-one fight.
Thrill of the Hunt introduced this notion of the Big Deletion, the corruption of computers throughout the galaxy which resulted in the loss of all human information. A second dark age. Well Civilized Beasts picks it up and just runs with it. Merely set up and a continuity tool for dealing with the issues brought up in Alien Resurrection, the idea is expanded and becomes the point of character tension and conflict towards the climax of the book.
Basically war broke out between humanity and the synthetics. A virus intended as a weapon to destroy the synthetic ends up getting into human technology, spreads and shuts down loads of computers. Synthetics are outlawed. I’d love to tell you more but that’d be spoiling it.
Over all I thought it was a massive improvement over the first. In terms of artwork and actual story but the short length meant the book sprinted through it’s story and left little time for the rest of the characters. However, we’re left we a semi cliff-hanger and I just hope to see another volume come along. It’s about time we got another series for Aliens/and/Predator. From Hicks at AvPGalaxy I award AvP – Civilized Beasts at 4 out of 5.