03 November, 2014

"We Were So Wrong!"

A Review of Prometheus: Fire and Stone #2
Part Three of "James Versus Fire and Stone."

Prometheus #2's greatest sin might be that it is rote to the point of not needing to exist. It is baseline comic book making from beginning to end. Its one or two interesting moments are counter-weighed by an equal number of equally powerful moments of idiocy. It isn't bad, it's just not very good.

Prometheus #2 executes on the cliffhanger issue #1 sets up. Meaning: Everyone gets turns into dog meat by a horde of xenomorphs. So there's that. This is followed by a chase scene involving lots of gunfire and then, finally, a mutant-alien shark attack. And it doesn't work. It's just there. As action, though, it isn't compelling because none of the people being killed or fighting back matter. They're just cyphers for the aliens to chew through, one after the other. 
I couldn't find any real art from #2, so here's this.


It made me think of Alien 3 and one of the many reasons why it doesn't work. It's chock full of violence and carnage, but, as a story it fails to scare you in the same way that it does in Alien and Aliens (or even Predator). Why?

As many people get wiped out in succession in James Cameron's masterpiece (to which all of these stories owe a debt, so I think it is fair to bring it up), that movie does a very good job setting up who these people are in very short order. Drake is a jock. Apone is a born marine. That one butch pilot is a stone cold professional. That one black guy likes pussy. And the world these characters live in. We recognize them, we like them or we hate them, but we know who they are and when they die, we can see them die as people. 

This comic does not accomplish that feat of tricking the audience into thinking they know something. Maybe it attempts to do so. Maybe it thinks that Prometheus, as a film, is enough to carry this world along. That there is a certain amount of knowledge an audience is going to carry in with them. If that's the case, then Paul Tobin has gravely miscalculated how to tell this story.

It isn't until about half of the way through the issue that any of the story actually bothers to get told. That's fine. Nothing wrong with that. I feel like most issues of Zero have a story that could fit on a bar napkin and that series is brilliant. This comic, if you haven't gathered is not brilliant.

The little plot we have is unpacked in a way that doesn't make sense and then completely lacks in any gravitas. So, it fails on both a functional and an emotional level. For example, our captain, you know What's-Her-Face, finally decides to come clean about the "true nature" of the mission. Her secret agenda being that she is out to discover what happened to Peter Weyland.

It's odd, because this is something that we already know. It doesn't read right at all. Is she supposed to appear to be a believer like Elizabeth Shaw? A fanatic like Ahab? A profiteer like the crew from Resurrection? Who knows! Who cares? All I can see is that her crew members are pissed off that they've been mislead. . . Even though danger was already inherent in the mission and there is no indication that they won't still be collecting big paychecks. She doesn't care about her mission, so neither do we.If anything, her "big reveal" is less a confession to her crew than a half-hearted apology to the reader.

Secondly, there is an entire sub-plot involving Elden and some scientist guy, who discover a cave that a survivor had been living in on this hostile alien planet. And, credit to Tobin, the idea of Robin Crusoe in space is pretty neat (if lacking in a monkey this time). Where it falls apart is that this plot goes from "Hmmm, what's all this?" to "Let's shoot each other up with alien goop. Should work out, right?" in about eight seconds flat. It's ridiculous.

To borrow a quote from Roger Ebert, "A good movie should leave you searching for answers, not asking questions." If that is true, then Prometheus #2 isn't a good story. It is less about developing a mystery than it is about leaving certain facts half-told and hoping that's good enough.

It bares stating that Juan Ferreyra is a solid enough artist and he delivers in #2 just as he did in #1. He can draw talking heads that look suffictiently different very well. If any of his work is actually lacking, it is in his panel layouts. His action sequences both show too much and then fail to connect one panel to the next. For whatever reason they don't seem to work like they should. Maybe that's more the fault of the writer, but how fair is that? He's already getting blamed for enough here. . .

The main failing is Paul Tobin's story. It doesn't hold together. On a character level we fail to understand what is motivating these characters and why their actions matter.

And, again, that space ship still looks like shit.

I give this THREE CHESTBURSTERS out of five. Not particularly great, but not particularly offensive. Plus, it gets some bonus points for trying its hand at writing something new for a movie that people talked nothing but shit about. A thankless task, if there ever was one.

The next issue on the agenda will be Predator: Fire and Stone #1. If you read one review in this entire series, I think you should stick around and read that one. . . That and AvP #1, because I hated that thing.

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And, if I haven't said it before, I'll say it this time: I am riding this fucking thing into the ground. There might even be a bonus after all the smoke clears. . .

James Kislingbury podcasts, writes, draws, and has brow-beatingly bold beliefs about Alien 3. He also has a Patreon going for his podcast, so if you love rambling and movies, why not help us out?