It has been two decades since Dark Horse first provided the matchup of “Aliens vs. Predator.” In the twenty years since, Dark Horse has revisited the concept more than a few times, and the title bout has also been translated to movies.
With both licenses having new comic series relaunched in the past year, as well as the possibility of revitalized movie properties forthcoming, Dark Horse chose now to revisit the collision between these two monstrous species. Bringing back the original creative team of Randy Stradley and Rick Leonardi seems like a pretty good idea on the surface, but lacks the teeth to make this book compelling. The suspense is almost there in the first issue, but after years of Predator and Alien comics, it’s almost counterintuitive to cheer for the humans who dare stand in the way of these beasties since you know the humans are simple cannon fodder.
Still, Stradley offers up a story that digs into Predator legends: that of the Killers. This new Predator introduced here wears armor akin to that of a samurai, and seems to take no pride in the thrill of the hunt, rather focusing on the kill. With only four pages of panel time, the Predator doesn’t instill fear so much as a high body count. The big surprise, however, is that he brings Aliens with him as an equivalent to a pack of hunting dogs.
Leonardi’s art is sketchy and gritty, well-suited for what this story should become, but a little sparse for this first issue filled with ponderances, talking heads, and grayscale flashbacks. Dzioba grounds the story with earthtones and a sparse palette of his own, saving the richer colors for later it seems.
Future issues should bring not only a more interesting plot, but a story that filled with the action and gritty adventure of the close-quarters battles favored by both of these alien species. “Should “is the operative word here, as it is possible that this matchup could just degrade into another tired franchise with the best stories behind it, or this could be a return to brilliance. One way or the other, this first issue exhausts itself setting up what is to come.