A centuries-old interstellar conflict threatens humanity’s very existence as a long-lost Predator clan stakes its claim for galactic dominance, intent on exterminating its rival clan, the selfsame trophy hunters who have plagued Earth’s history and every world they have touched. And if the advanced technology and military precision of this new threat weren’t enough, they have an even more terrifying weapon at their disposal — Aliens, weaponized and under their malefic control. This puts earthmen in the dangerous position of parlaying with the same alien warriors who have relentlessly hunted them, and who better to carry out the negotiations than Machiko Noguchi, the only human known to have spent time alongside the Hunters.
Three World War is the return of Aliens vs. Predator to serialized comic form since Xenogenesis in 2000. It’s also the first time Randy Stradley has penned AvP since War in 1995. For those who aren’t aware, Stradley also wrote the very first Aliens vs. Predator comic back in 1990.
Three World War follows on from Stradley’s previous AvP series, set over 10 years after War took place. We find Machiko and Ellis have moved on, Machiko now owns a small planet she uses as a hunting preserve to cater to businessmen. Over the time, their relationship has changed and over the course of the series, we come to realise how much. Unfortunately the fate of Jess and Lara is left unanswered.
When an unknown ship attacks a mining colony on Caparis 7, footage of the attack shows what appear to be Predators killing unarmed humans and controlling the Aliens. The Colonial Marines approach Machiko with the footage and she informs them of an old Predator legend about a clan who take pleasure in the kill, not the hunt. Machiko then acts as a negotiator between the “Hunter” Predators and together they mount on an attack to wipe out the “Killers”. Short summaries aren’t really my forte. It is much better than I make it sound.
For both Stradley and Machiko this seems to be a conclusion to the involvement with the Predators and Aliens. She’s sick of always being involved with the Predators and when the series concludes, Stradley is letting us know that Machiko won’t be able to get involved with them again. It came across just as much of a conclusion for him as well as the character.
All the other characters in Three World War are secondary. No-one other than Machiko and Ellis is given much heed. I can understand the decision to do that since so much was happening but it does lessen the impact of the war when characters we don’t really know or care for are meeting their makers.
The series also sees the return of characters from both Aliens – More Than Human and Predator – Prey to the Heavens in the form of a short video involving Thorpe and a secondary character in Sereda. Thorpe’s inclusion in the comic doesn’t particularly add much and Sereda’s I could have done without to be honest. In More Than Human, he was a fantastic character who had been set-up for more stories.
While I understand that this was Machiko’s story, the way in which Sereda was handled and underused in Three World War did disappoint me. I would have preferred to see him return in another Aliens only series. I’ll also admit to being confused why his skin pigmentation also changed colour in between the series and why he looked nothing like his previous incarnation.
Another throwback to the previous re-launch series was the appearance of the Aliens that the Killer Predators used. One of the big mysteries in More Than Human was the different appearance and editor, Chris Warner, had commented on how Three World War would see the reasoning. However, there was nothing. It did seem to insinuate that they might have been Predaliens but that maybe me reading into it too much. However, this doesn’t detract from the story and was only a minor disappointment for me.
What I really enjoyed about the series was the inclusion of blatantly different Predator clans with polar opposite ideologies. The series focuses around the conflict between the Hunters and the Killers . The Killers are a clan that live for the kill, not for the hunt, as the names would imply. The Hunters just can’t have that. It is disrespectful to the hunt and an affront to everything they believe. I’m a big fan of seeing these conflicts as it gives the Predators considerably more depth without having to de-mystify then too much.
What I truly enjoyed was the scale of the comic. We’re not focused on one planet; we’re not having one skirmish. This is war and the series portrays it fantastically. We have numerous battles, including on the ground and in space. One of my favourites is during the opening pages of #2 when we witness the ill-fated results of a rescue mission.
One thing that did cause the Alien fan in me to cry out was the way in which the Aliens are portrayed in the series. The title maybe Aliens vs. Predator but the content is Predator and Alien lapdogs vs. Predators and Colonial Marines.
The Killer Predators have found a way to control the Aliens and are using them as their own cannon fodder. The reasoning behind the control is well explained and handled. What I dislike is that the Aliens are used for nothing other than being killed in their masses and using their over-whelming numbers to kill. It pains to me to say that this is typical of the comics but it continually disappoints none-the-less. I can imagine their treatment in the series will disappoint or possibly turn other Alien fans away.
The artwork by Rick Leonardi and Mark Pennington is another aspect that may make or break the comic for some readers. It has is a very frantic and motion orientated style that suits the war and action sequences superbly. However, when the action winds down, the style has a lack of detail and a vague, lazy-like appearance that detracts from the series. The artwork just doesn’t suit the entirety of the comic and it really pulls it down.
One particular example of this is during the first issue when the Killer Predators are revealed to the reader. It looks so poorly drawn, the lack of detail giving the impression that the reader is looking at a Kenner Predator through a filter designed to appear comic-like.
That said, the portrayal of the Colonial Marines in Three World War is fantastic. Not many comics have them drawn as they appeared in Aliens. Many have them in generic armour or sci-fi combat suits. It was a small pleasure but a pleasure none-the-less.
I found Three World War to be an epic, action-packed story that brought Machiko’s (and most likely Randy Stradley’s) involvement with the Aliens and the Predators to a fitting conclusion. The artwork, due to not suiting the entire comic, is the major disappointment for me. It’s definitely a series worth reading but ideally, you’ll really want to read the original Aliens vs. Predator and then War to get the most out of Three World War.