As he lay in a pool of his own blood, his life slowly fading away, the pirate captain Raphael Adolini held out his flintlock pistol to the towering Predator who had not long ago been his enemy. With his dying breath, Adolini told the creature to “take it,” never knowing that he was giving the Predator who would become known as Greyback the very words that would be repeated to Detective Mike Harrigan at the end of Predator 2.
The sequence aboard the Predator ship at the end of Predator 2 is easily one of the most memorable in the series. But it was also monumental. It was a chance for Jim and John Thomas to actually get to see a scene that was removed from the original Predator. The trophy case implied hunts on many different alien worlds. And for the first time audiences saw multiple Predators sharing the frame together. It was a brief glimpse at Predator culture.
But it was also a window into a much larger piece of Predator history. When Greyback threw Harrigan that flintlock pistol, Harrigan took it as a promise that we’d be seeing the Predators again. However, it was also a statement that the Predators had been around for a long time – or 300 years at least.
In all drafts of the Predator 2 script that Alien vs. Predator Galaxy has access to, the date was originally intended to be 1640, but in the film it was changed to 1715 because the prop department used a readily available 18th Century commercial retail replica manufactured by Denix, a Spanish company.
But regardless of the specific age of the weapon, the gift of an old flintlock pistol remained constant throughout the drafts.
Writers Jim and John Thomas had actually intended it be a jump-off point for a third Predator film. Speaking to Starlog in December of 1990, John Thomas told the magazine that “there’s a big surprise ending to Predator 2 that’s a real big switch. And that sets the stage of the possibility of a third film.”
Though they didn’t explicitly mention these ideas came from that moment, in the audio commentary that Jim and John recorded for Predator 2, during the sequence aboard the Predator ship, they mentioned toying around with ideas for potential sequels set in the past.
“We played around with it on the set, of doing something historical. What would it be like in a time when we had nothing but steam engines and flintlocks, and you went up against something like this? That could be fun.”
The only glimpses of Predators in the past in theatrical releases were in the flashback sequences in Alien vs. Predator. Otherwise, period stories with the Predator have only been realized in fan films like the fantastic Predator: Dark Ages, or in the officially licensed expanded universe. Dark Horse Comics have taken us all over the timeline, with one story actually taking us to the incident that led to Greyback taking ownership of Raphael Adolini’s flintlock!
Written by Henry Gilroy, with artwork by Igor Kordey, Predator: 1718 was released in July of 1996 as part of the first issue of Dark Horse’s new special anniversary anthology series called A Decade of Dark Horse.
As the title implies, the short story takes place in 1718, on the coast of Guinea where the pirate captain Raphael Adolini is leading three of his crew ashore to return a box of sacraments that had been looted from the church. Adolini chastised his crew for having stolen them in the first place, and for killing a priest in the process.
Though a pirate, Adolini still considered himself and his men to abide by some codes of honor, stating that what had been done was “far beyond this brigand ship’s code.’
Though the comic specifics that it was sacraments that had been taken, this is likely an error as it is more likely a box of sacramentals that the pirates had stole, which were typically items such as holy water, or golden crucifixes.
The crewmembers argue that it is loot the same as any other, but Captain Adolini offers what is intended to be an end of the discussion, but instead prompts the beginning of a mutiny.
“It belongs to the church and that’s whom it is goin’ back to. Or I’m not your captain.”
The pirates take the latter option and attack their now former captain, but Adolini defends himself. Shooting one mutineer in the face, and kicking another to the ground Adolini is able to escape into the trees around the shoreline…all while being observed by a Predator – a young Greyback.
One of the mutineers catches up to Captain Adolini, but is soon killed by Greyback who has come to challenge the pirate, evidently considering the captain a genuine challenge. “Are you a Beast?” Adolini asks. And Greyback replies by calling the pirate a beast in return. The two begin to fight, swords clashing, but are soon interrupted by more of the Captain’s mutinous crew.
Predator and Pirate Captain work together to hold off the mutineers, standing back-to-back as they defeat the captain’s former crew with far deadlier skill than the crew processes. Standing in a clearing of corpses and blood, Adolini mutters “bastards” and Greyback mimics in agreement. Thinking they have defeated everyone, Adolini and Greyback turn to face each other to renew their duel.
However, the crewmember who instigated the mutiny, who has been hiding, takes advantage of the distraction and shoots Captain Raphael Adolini in the back. Running into the fray to grab the treasure chest, the mutineer also shoots Greyback in the leg, and takes off. With the ship in his sights, the mutineer thinks he has escaped, but Greyback uses his plasma caster to shoot him in the back, like the mutineer did his own captain.
“Bastards” Greyback mimics once again, his disdain for the mutineers obvious. The Predator’s attention is drawn to the dying pirate captain at his feet. Adolini has only the energy to offer Greyback his pistol, telling the brief ally and enemy to “take it” with his dying breath.
In an act of respect, Greyback seemingly digs a grave for Adolini, and places the pirate captain’s corpse in there. Along with Adolini’s own cross, and the chest of religious treasures that caused the chaos in the first place, Greyback throws in his own telescoping sword, mimicking the offer to “take it” that Adolini had just made to the Predator, and that Greyback himself would make to Detective Mike Harrigan 279 years later.
Predator: 1718 ends with a panel showing the pirate ship wrecked along the shoreline, implying that Greyback took it even further and destroyed Captain Raphael Adolini’s entire mutinous crew and the vessel itself.
An interesting thing to note about Greyback’s appearance in Predator: 1718 is that he’s portrayed with a very distinctly yellow or golden appearance, to the point where one of the pirates refers to him as a “Golden Angel,” the name that NECA would use for their figure of the Predator’s depiction in this comic.
It’s unknown if it was merely artistic choice on Igor Kordey’s part, or an indication that the Predator’s skin tonne actually dulls as they grow older.
Both Greyback and the flintlock have actually made a reappearance in Illfonic’s Predator: Hunting Grounds! The latest update sees the Predator Elder class as an unlockable once you reach level 150. And the flintlock is a hidden trophy found in the field crates that you can decorate your Predator character with.
And that is the story of Raphael Adolini’s flintlock pistol and how it came be in the possession of Greyback.