02 January, 2015

One of Them Poetic Endings

A Review of Prometheus #4.
Part Eleven of "James Versus Fire and Stone."


As with the passing of the clock so are the days of Fire and Stone. We arrive at Prometheus #4 and with it comes the conclusion of the first arc of the miniseries. Or, it ends, anyways. Let's get into it, shall we?

What did we learn?

Well, I sure didn't learn what "Fire and Stone" is supposed to mean.

As far as the actual title goes there's almost no fire to speak of and I'm hard pressed to think of any stone metaphorical or otherwise. It's almost as if this entire endeavor wasn't entirely thought out. There's no fire, there's no stone, there's just a title that sounds like it would be better attached to a piece of Dragon Age DLC than anything involving the Alien universe.
It's more about blood than anything else. Blood in the form of bloodshed. Blood as a signifier of identity. White android blood, acid alien blood, green predator blood, the black goo, and good, old fashioned, red-blooded American. . . Red blood.  I'm not sure what Engineers bleed, but I'm sure we're finally going to see some in Predator #4. I'm going to guess that they're going to bleed something that we haven't seen before. I'm guessing indigo, the underdog of the ROY G BIV family of mnemonics. Or maybe rainbow? Or how about the favorite color of 3rd Rock from the Sun, clear?

Now what actually happens?

Everything and nothing. Prometheus #4suffers from a unique problem among the Fire and Stone series, which is that way too much happens in the last act. As a result, it's a jumble of events that don't tie together. It's the plot equivalent of one of those party poppers with all of the confetti. Everything explodes and all you're left with is a bit of a mess.

What are the bullet points here?
*Galgo hijacks a ship, murders some folk, and fucks off (which we already knew).
*The new Engineer's ship is actually a storage facility for black goo mutants. That's fun.
*The Engineer shows up with a plasma cannon and cleans house on at least two separate plot threads.
*Everything is fucked.
*Our Space Captain hero is ditched on the jungle planet, leaving me to have to buy Predator #4 (lucky for them it's a fantastic book).

With that said, there is one good sequence in this book. It comes towards the end as Captain Lady and her crew of nameless survivors run from the aliens in a pitch black corridor. She tells her ship mates to hurry up. We all know what's coming, but it's still cool to see Captain Lady turn around to find that the arm she's holding is the only thing left of her co-worker. It's a well-executed, well-thought out sequence that demonstrates that there is some really good talent behind this otherwise underwhelming book.

Part of how Prometheus wraps up reminds me of the pilot of Hand of God. It's a wonderful show (I mean, as wonderful as a show about a rape, a suicide, and a man whose sanity is unraveling as God speaks to him). And I was almost took against it because of how it ended. There was this massive build up to a conclusion, then, right at the very end, it through a brick through your front window and leaves you with questions that completely colors the show you were just watching!

How cool is this layout? See? I'm not all negative!
I wanted more answers! How dare it not give me more answers! Then I realized that it wasn't a flaw in the structure of the story, that was the intention. It was a tease. It's relying on other people to fill in the blanks. That's a problem that I've had with these books from the get go and it's mildly depressing to see it muddle the ending as much as it muddled the beginnings.

Prometheus #4 isn't that kind of story telling. It concludes in a similar fashion, yet instead of piquing your interest or annoying you, it just fumbles it. You're then left mildly confused at the story and irritated that you're fifteen bucks the poorer.

To quote Roger Ebert (forgive me if you've heard this one before): “A good movie should leave searching for answers, not asking questions.” Hand of God is the former, Prometheus is the latter.

I'm reading all of these books. I don't want to, but I am. And I feel like I'm not getting the right amount of story out of these books. With on exception, these books are depending too much on each other to craft a coherent story. Even if you ignore the links between the books in the crossover, you're mostly left

Prometheus #4 can't be enjoyed as an installment in a larger story and it can't be enjoyed by somebody who just wants to read a book set in the Prometheus universe. Maybe I'm saying the same thing twice. I don't know. I just wish that it was better, I guess. I'm struggling to put that into an exact argument.

Dark Horse, you can do better. I know you all can. And hopefully you will next time, because I know my dumb ass will be there the first Wednesday it comes out, picking it up.

MUTANT OF THE WEEK:
I guess it has to collectively go to the chamber of horrors inside of the Croissant. They don't get a lot of face time in the comic book, but boy do I love things suspended in tanks. It's a great shorthand to show how messed up and weird something is. I mean, you ever been anywhere and seen an animal suspended in fluid and thought "This looks like a good place as any?"

ALL TIME MUTANT WINNER:
I guess it's the alien monkey things. Because that's a really stupid thing to have to look at and write into dialogue, and as bereft of clever monsters as this book is, I am sure as shit not giving to to motherfucking Elden, because motherfuck Elden.

KEVIN O'NEILL AWARD FOR BACKGROUND CHICANERY:
We get an Engineer Croissant that is stocked to the gills with failed black goo sub-species. It's a creepy bit of imagery and it's the kind of wild, unrestrained weirdness that I wanted out of this book. It is something that the book could have used two issues ago (and could have used more than the fucking xenomorphs).

I'm also a sucker for glass tubes full of monsters. Maybe it's just my affection of Alien Resurrection rubbing off into my normal life.


I give the final installment of Fire and Stone's Prometheus THREE FACEHUGGERS OUT OF FIVE. Prometheus' tour of competence finally comes to a close and it doesn't close very hard. At every turn this comic had an opportunity to do something and then it just doesn't. It's not bad. It just is. And that's the ending. Not with a whimper, not with a bang, but with a real loud cough.

Of course, even Ridley Scott can't seem to pump out movies worth a damn any more. Who am I to judge? To quote a chaos theorist, “You were so busy asking if you could, you didn't ask if you should.” Ideally Dark Horse would have waited until the right story presented itself.

Feh.