Anyone familiar with the Aliens or Predator titles either in movie format or from the Dark Horse comic series will find this title has the suspense and grittiness you come to expect. The cover art brings together the two powerful series with spaceship from Prometheus in the background and a half-armored Predator as the focus. It sets the stage for what it is come within.
Predator: Life and Death takes place around forty-three years after the motion picture Aliens and follows the story of Captain Paget and her Colonial Marines as they investigate reports of claim jumpers on a remote planet. In this final issue of the mini series, the investigation comes to a head as they uncover a spacecraft of unknown, and a pack of “hunters” bent on mercilessly executing members of her team.
Writer Dan Abnett incorporates many elements from the original Aliens and Prometheus titles into the plot. He utilizes the rich background of the series to great effect bringing the world to life. The inclusion of the Weyland-Yutani and the U-shaped spacecraft from Prometheus are just some examples of how he does this. The story fits nicely into the on-going movie universe detailing a sort of prequel to Prometheus that gives us a look into another path the alien life-forms have taken.
The dialogue is short and direct given the battle atmosphere and the Marine operations. While this adds to the realness of the world, it leaves little room for character development and if you are jumping in on the tail end of this issue you will definitely have to read the previous ones in order to really get to know these characters. It leaves you with a number of questions. Why isn’t Humble allowed to have a weapon? Why is there only one researcher on the team?
The lack of character development almost makes you immune to the deaths of the Marines. You don’t have anything invested in them so when they are attacked and killed by a Predator, they might as well be a nameless husk. The only hint of character we get is from Melville, when he tells Singer that he is a pacifist and a humanist, believing that there is a greater power in the universe.
Brian Albert Thies’ art style at times appears lazy and rushed. For example, there are two panels in particular on one page, where Paget is loading her weapon. Both look identical, except for the addition of a sound effect to the second panel. There seems to be a lack of effort and care that you expect a storyteller to put into their work. In any sort of scene where you would want to highlight a certain action or create intensity, it is better to get a close-up shot to show that tension in a character as they face an impossible situation. A close-up shot of Paget loading her weapon would have served better to build the intensity of having to split the team to divert the attention of the hunters.
Rain Beredo’s coloring creates an overly dark tone that matches the grit of the story. It is really only lit up by the presence of gunfire or blasts from an alien weapons. For someone looking for better attention to detail, the shadowing may be a bit too heavy. It may even be construed as a shortcut to meet a deadline. Predator: Life and Death #4 seems to be a publishing effort that needed more time to simmer.
Overall, Predator: Life and Death #4 is a continuation of what had already been an established universe, and sets the reader up for another storyline. Being part of the Life and Death series, the comics will have seventeen parts altogether, and this particular point in the plot is just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps in later stories we will get to see more of who these characters are, their motivations, and perhaps more emotional content from them at the loss of their team members then maybe we can feel for the characters that had to die to complete the mission.
- Translates the style of the movies flawlessly
- Carries themes of an already-established universe
- Lots of action- very little downtime
- Little character development
- Art style seems lazy at times
- Felt too short