Dark Horse Comics’ mega-crossover involving its “Prometheus,” “Aliens” and “Predator” licenses enters the second month by way of “Prometheus: Fire and Stone” #2 by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra. This issue takes advantage of these properties existing in the same universe by almost making readers forget they’re not reading a regular “Aliens” comic, as the xenomorphs play a pretty prominent role as the story begins. In fact, the sequence is a little too familiar to longtime “Aliens” fans.
If a facehugger were born every time there has been a scene of an armed group getting ambushed after stumbling directly into a hive of aliens, our planet would be overrun. Tobin utilizes the exact same recipe that was employed so well in the films and copied countless times since: the team discovers the strangely textured walls of the hive covered in chestburster goo shortly before the aliens attack and inflict multiple casualties, among them burns from incidental acid blood spray.
Tobin handles it about as well as past writers have, and Ferreyra’s aliens can induce nightmares as vivid as H.R. Giger’s original designs did, but the motif has become as pedestrian as, say, suave and hungry vampires biting someone on the neck, or mindless zombies tearing off a chunk of said neck. It’s the kind of story element that’s come to demand some degree of variance, and regardless of whether any kind of fresh take even exists, that kind of variance doesn’t happen here.
Ferreyra, along with color assists from Eduardo Ferreyra, also get the job done beyond the deadly and horrific alien creatures; the misty and mysterious planet/moon of LV-223 is full of strangely hostile landscapes and inexplicable life forms that are illustrated with both a lush and otherworldly kind of beauty, and a sense of uneasiness and unfamiliarity. The terraformed planet, presumably changed by a totally different kind of goo as seen in the “Prometheus” film, takes on a genuinely alien feel under the art team’s custodianship that help carry the story past many of its early and well-trodden elements.
“Prometheus” added the first legitimate background to the “Aliens” mythos in two decades, giving the latter a figurative shot in the arm, and one that’s literally and symbolically, if unintentionally, played out in a scene near the issue’s end. Tobin takes full advantage of this additional opportunity, focusing on the relatively uncharted territory first landed upon by “Prometheus,” at least in comparison to “Aliens.” With the title of the series in mind, Tobin pushes the xenomorphs into the background for the remainder of the story, which is a fresher and far more compelling exploration of ideas laid out in the 2012 movie.
Perhaps the biggest fault of the story isn’t due to its creators, but instead by the publisher’s scheduling. This series gives indications as to the outcome of the in-progress “Aliens: Fire and Stone” which takes place before this series but whose premiere issue came out after this series began. In turn, future events stemming from this issue were foreshadowed, aka spoiled, in last week’s “Aliens vs. Predator: Fire and Stone” #1. Otherwise careful coordination is largely ruined by the overlapping releases of various issues within the series, and Tobin’s intriguing cliffhanger from this issue is diminished before it’s even presented.
“Prometheus: Fire and Stone” #2 is a better comic than its competent but derivative opening and well-composed but telegraphed ending would indicate. Tobin and Ferreyra have been given a tough task, one that would have been significantly less so with a better scheduling plan, but nonetheless skillfully manage to turn out a worthwhile chapter in this franchise-spanning mega-arc.