30 November, 2014

The Island of Broken Androids

A Review of Prometheus #3
Part Seven of “James Versus Fire and Stone.”

God. Here we are again.

One things that the Fire and Stone event has done well is that every comic book feels different. As interrelated as they are, each one is a distinct entity, each is a distinct type of story. They also each have distinct shortcomings. As the first comic in the Fire and Stone event Prometheus is the first word on what's wrong with this event.

Aliens is slow, but I'm interested to see where it goes. AvP is a total shit show, though that at least presents its own kind of pleasure. Predator is the stand out among this crossover event in that it is a rock solid genre comic. But Prometheus? It is this vast scene of blandness. An entire ocean of semi-sentient pureed vegetables that think of "Yeah, I guess so" is the height of repartee.

I wish it were more terrible. That might actually be fun.Then again there must be some inherent value in keeping me tortured.

So, what's going on with the actual comic?

Last issue we left off with an entire hive of aliens (which, as I understand it are hundreds of years old at this point? I think?) chasing our generic main characters, but not swiftly enough to actually do any damage to people with names. And it kind of goes on like that.

The beginning smash cuts to Francis (there, I finally remembered the black scientist's name) being chased by Elden the Android (now in full GWAR mode). We assume he's there to kill Francis, but then he lets Francis go. It's not to tease him, not to play with him like a cat plays with it's prey. No. Elden lets the man go because this comic book is dumb.

All the while, Elden is rambling on about the type of shit that only psychopaths in poorly written stories ramble on about. He's upset that Francis betrayed his trust, yet, by his own admission, he is smarter, faster, and just generally cooler looking, yet he seems to be really worked up about this? Why? Why any of this?

God, do I hate Elden.
The rest of issue #3's story comes in fits and starts, picking up the fumbled ball of the past two issues and just sort of looking at it. “Is this a football?” and “What do you want me to do with this?” it asks.
Across the planet, the scrappy captain and her remaining crew are high tailing it towards the only way off the stygian nightmare planet that they've found themselves on. There's some push and pull about what needs to be done, but who really cares. The captain is a non-entity and so is the rest of her crew.

There's an attempt to characterize a bunch of the survivors (people who should have met and cared about in issue #1), by introducing a female scientist that has a wife that is threatened by the aliens.

But, who is this lesbian scientist? And who is her wife? Why should I care? Does she even have a name? The only information I can glean from this plot line is that in the future people are cool about homosexuals. Good for them! But so what? I'm cool about homosexuals now and I have to live through this comic book. Give me something to care about. Give me something to latch onto. If you're going to arbitrarily introduce characters and ideas, why not just go all out? Why not just make them polygamists? That way you've got even more wives at hazard. More wives means more tension! It'd be stupid not to make them polygamists! You missed a trick, Paul Tobin!

Then, towards the end of the issue, Galgo and his daring-do crew of dirtbag mercs abandon the crew on the ground because they found out that there was a better storyline somewhere out there (which is Predator. Go read that book).

An Engineer also appears for some reason. He's culling the xenomorphs. That's pretty cool, I guess. I kind of wish it tied into the story at all instead of just being a thing that happened.

Also, Captain What's-Her-Face reprimands Francis for exposing Elden to the black goo and then abandoning him. She goes as far as to accuse him of murder, even though Elden is, in Francis' eyes, about as human as a coffee machine. Unlike the nameless lesbian and his equally unknowable cipher wife, Elden and Francis actually are characters. We don't care about them, but we at least know who they are. To then treat Elden as a human being in light of Francis' need to play God could be accused of being an interesting idea. It's not great, but it's a kind of story telling, at least.

All of that said, I think I unfairly criticized Juan Ferreyra's art in my previous reviews. When dealing with a panorama of people, he isn't at his best, but there are individual panels, mostly close ups of characters, that are actually quiet striking. As works of art, they're beautiful. As panels in comics, they also do something that only comics can do, which is to convey, in shorthand, the emotional state of a character in a larger story.

With that said, I don't know if Prometheus is the right book for him, but I'm willing to bet that he has some great work in the past and some great work ahead of him. I would very much like to see what he can do with a better script at his disposal.

On the plus side, I should state that the past two covers have been pretty neat (#2's cover from David Palumbo is an especially handsome work of art). #3 also features art from Mr. Pulumbo (man, he does Magic: The Gathering card art too? This guy sure gets around) and it is another attractive work of art. It almost has me tricked into thinking that the idea of a mutant android is a good one.Then my memories come back to me like a shotgun blast full of piss.

Prometheus #3 receives THREE FACEHUGGERS OUT OF FIVE. And it has just barely earned that third Facehugger. This comic is rapidly souring and the sun has yet to come out. As the inaugural comic in the Fire and Stone event, Prometheus is a poor pointman. It should be leading the pack in both tone and quality. It should be the best thing on the line. Instead the best comic in this whole event is the last one released. Instead of a grand new era in Dark Horses comics we're introduced to a line of comics that are basically dead on arrival.

What can be done to fix all of this? I don't know. Hire me, why don't you? I've got plenty of terrible ideas about Aliens and Predators. Plus, I'll work for a song. Scott Allie, I'm only a few key strokes away. You know you want to.

You can read the previous installments of "James Versus Fire and Stone" below:
Alien Versus Predator #2
Aliens #2
Predator #1
Alien #1 and Prometheus #1

James Kislingbury is a writer, a podcaster, and a dirtbag merc.