07 November, 2014

"You're one ugly. . . No, wait, I spoke too soon."

A Review of Predator #1
Part four of James Versus Fire and Stone

It should be said that Predator's entry into the Fire and Stone “blockbuster crossover” was going to be awful.

Luckily, I was wrong. Predator #1 succeeds at every level as a comic book. It's funny, it's good looking, and it has a solid story. It's so well done, it's successes are so specific, that it appears that Joshua Williamson looked at the other comics in the crossover event and made a conscious decision to not do any of that. It's saving grace of this entire mini-series/crossover/money-grab/whatever that it is.

From the first pages, writer Joshua Williamson lets you know that the predator is in good hands. In two or three page you know exactly where you are in the world and who the characters are and what their motivations are. And then a predator appears and he starts doing some predator-ass shit.. It's a simple, but it's fun and it works on a level that most of the rest of Fire and Stone does not.

Now, is it clunky to cram the first three pages with dialogue like “Hey, you remember when we were in Prometheus? That was crazy, wasn't it?” Of course it's clunky. It's such a specific way to get information across that it almost seems like a parody of the old Spider-Man comics where we would be told that Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider (apparently Stan Lee made a point of keeping this in because "Every comic could be somebody's first comic"). It also seems like an attempt to avoid the leaps that AvP #1 made and that has to be a good sign.

In all this it works, and I would much rather read something mildly clunky than a comic book with no mooring in any sort of reality. It doesn't assume anything from its audience. It actually bothers to tell a story and wrap a predator into the mix. It's a small victory, but it works and that's the important thing.

Now, is there a major copy editing error in the “Previously on Fire and Stone” summary on gatefold? Yes, but would you rather have some copy editing errors and a bad comic or a really good comic with something that only an asshole like me would notice? So, Predator #1 does have some problems, but it doesn't ever get in the way of the story.

This comic also works on a character level. With Aliens we're left with a fairly passive narrator, with Prometheus we're left with a cast of characters that exists as a list of names more than anything else, and in AvP we have, I don't know? A GWAR?

This time, we have Galgo (a mercenary who features prominently in both Prometheus and AvP), his two partners, and a predator (or yajuta, if you're feeling frisky). This time around, though, it works because all of the characters are established. Their motives are clear and we are told who these people are in very short order: There's the older dirtbag, the dirtbag in training, and Galgo (or "Dirtbag Prime" as I'm sure he was called in the script). From there the action unfolds and by the end we're left with a fun little cliffhanger. It's a simple, uncomplicated comic book, done right.

Another thing that I like is that Galgo is that he seems to be a refugee straight out of an 80's action movie. He's a jerk, he's ruthless, and he's kind of funny. He seems like the exact kind of guy who would try to fight a predator.

With all of the hard work that Joshua Williamson put into the writing of the book, the real hero is Christopher Mooneyham. His work, like the character Galgo, seems like it is out of a different era. It seems fairly old fashioned. It seems like it's un-touched by modern production methods in a way that's really nice. The closest comparison I can think of is Walter Simonson, which is funny because not only is he famous for Starjammers, a book about space pirates, but he also drew the adaptation of the first Alien movie way back in 1979 (it's also funny because the other book that I picked up that week is Ragnarok #2).

This comic excites me in the way that comic books should excite me. It's a big, pulpy, fun science fiction story with just enough ideas hanging on in the background to make it more than the sum of its parts. It uses all kinds of little tricks to get you up to speed, but it doesn't ever sacrifice the story or the action. In that way Williamson and Mooneyham have made a proper tribute to the Alien name. . . Even if it doesn't actually bare the Alien name.

Five out of Five Chestbursters. If you like action, if you like Predator, if you just want to get the taste of AvP #1 out of your crab mouth, read this book. I'll also give it some bonus GLOWING GREEN BLOOD STAINS OF DISTINCTION as it might actually redeem Fire and Stone. You know, might. Also, Joshua Williamson is a cool dude and he deserves your money. 

You can read previous entries in James Versus Fire and Stone below--

And, this is the last thing I will hype, I swear, but I podcast. And I love doing it, but it isn't free! So, if you love pulpy movies like I do and you want to support the arts, however low and turgid they may be, please think about throwing a buck or two my way on my Patreon.

So that's that! Thanks for reading and stay tuned for Aliens #2 and, ugh, Alien Versus Predator #2? God. Already? God. How many more of these issues are there? Jesus. . .