Friday, August 1, 2008

Collection Spotlight: Aliens vs. Predator Omnibus volume1

Collection Spotlight Alien Vs Predator

Here we are with the first guaranteed weekly articles. Collection Spotlight, where I spotlight/review collections on my book shelf and explain why I enjoy them, and why you might want to check them out too.

Today we’re starting with a 2-parter, Aliens Vs. Predator Omnibus. I have the first 2 volumes (I think a 3rd Volume is out, or in the works) and am going to review each massive volume separately.

Collection Spotlights will be every Thursday of the week.

Since this is an Omnibus, it is made up of several stories into one massive compilation. Similar to Comic Report Card, I will review each story, as well as the art, and review each story separately. Then Review the collection as a whole. Also note, this is only because this is an Omnibus, later on when I review a regular collection I will review all their stories as a whole, not every single issue/story within it, but the collection as a whole.

With Collection Spotlight, gone is the Check it’s and Must Have’s, here it’s simply me saying what I like and don’t like, and giving either a Pass It or Buy It. Because in the end, that’s all you really need to know in a score, if you should buy it or not. And for this, since it collects several stories, each story will get a number out of 10. 10 being the best, 1 being the worst.

So, lets get started with the opening and main story of the book.

Aliens vs. Predator

Written: Randy Stradley

Art: Phil Norwood

Chris Warner

Story comments: The opening chapter is an introduction to just how things work as far as the relationship between Alien and Predator goes. While 2 ship captains fly to their destination far away, they have a running dialogue about if it’s okay to kill to survive, hunting instincts, and so on. All the while we see just what the Predators do with Aliens, how they use them as sport on planets, how they have a queen held captive, even to how the strongest Predator chooses where to hunt.

This is a great opening for the story, but aside from the captains who show up later, and introducing Broken Tusk, it doesn’t have much to do with the main story. The main story opens with the pod carrying Alien Eggs crashing on the planet Ryushi, along with Machiko Noguchi, our main character, narrating a recap of the events.

I think nothing I say can sum up how good this story is other than this statement.

This is exactly what the AvP movie should have been. It mixes the perfect blend of science fiction the Aliens franchise is known for and the survival aspect that the Predator franchise uses. It is the best of both worlds.

The story follows the simple aspects of both franchises, an Alien infestation starts to grow, Predators are hunting but the humans get caught in the middle. This makes for some great moments, one of the more notable death moments being when a small family that lives in the colony getting killed by Predators, but the young child being the only to survive after seeing both his parents gored to death. It’s some pretty serious and dark stuff, which shows the writer’s love and respect for these franchises.

The character of Machiko slowly evolves from up-tight business woman to a hunter who does what her instincts tell her to do. It’s a very well done progression and under her circumstances, it makes sense that instincts would kick in. Thing is, what instincts? Run or fight? Lucky for her, it was fight.

Machiko isn’t the only character; we have a regular cast of random people perfect for the slaughter. But oddly enough, not many key characters seem to die. Only a few really, whereas I expected half the cast to be dead by the end of it. It’s not something I’m frustrated with, just something I wasn’t expecting.

Similar to what happened in the AvP movie, Machiko teams up with the last of the Predator’s, Broken Tusk. Luckily this isn’t some random meeting/Alien killing to prove herself like in the movie. Here, after Broken Tusk is found early on and brought to the colony hospital, the wife of doctor he killed (though she obviously doesn’t know that) saves him.

This leads to him aiding the humans, first by killing one of his subordinates that was after the doctor, then aiding Machiko in her fight to kill the queen and stop the Alien infestation. This also feels more interesting and well progressed .Rather than the two becoming a slap tag team at the last minute. It also makes a great character out of Broken Tusk and shows the Predators aren’t just mindless savages that kill.

Similar to the ending of AvP, Broken Tusk dies after their victory. Though again, unlike AvP the movie, Broken Tusk’s death is much more personal and sad. It affects you for having gotten to known this character and it’s sad to see him die.

In the epilogue, Machiko lives along on Ryushi, waiting for the day that Broken Tusk’s people return for her to meet them and explain that Broken Tusk didn’t die for any reason. It’s…odd, to say the least, when she meets them they fully accept her upon seeing the mark Broken Tusk gave her. One would expect a little more confusion from them, but I can’t argue with what works.

The ending is fairly good and it ties up what is an incredibly great story.

Art comments: The 2 artists here are very similar, and this is more the art standard back in the 80’s. Before the sleek edgy sexy art of the 90’s came around. Here we have more realistic and detailed art. Almost in similarity to Dave Gibbon’s art, though not quite at the same level of greatness. It’s still great art, even if it’s not much to talk about or point out. The Aliens and Predators look exactly like they should.

8 out of 10

Blood Time

Written: Randy Stradley

Art: Phil Norwood

Story comments: This is one of the shorter stories. Only a few pages long and barely much to say about it.

It takes place on a remote planet with a pack of Predators hunting Aliens, narration explaining 1 young Predator in how he wants to prove himself. He finds one of his allies who’s cut open an Alien, the acid having burnt of the other’s hand. Our main predator does that jackass move and steals the Alien corpse and leaves his friend for dead, wanting to take the credit himself.

But oh snap! By the time he gets to the ship, 2 others found the one he’d left for dead and our treacherous Predator is left for dead in an Alien filled Swamp with no weapons or suit, left for dead.

All this really does is introduce 2 Predators who show up in 2 later stories, the leader of the hunt who becomes a Leader of the pack and the one handed Predator who is the main Predator in our next story.

Art comments: Norwood does a great job here, especially when it comes to the Predators unmasked. You can tell he’s having a blast drawing these pages and that transcends unto his art and it looks great. But again, there isn’t much to say here.

6 out of 10


Written: Randy Stradley

Art: Javier Saltares

Story comments: Another short story, though it goes on for a bit, this all takes place within a matter of an hour or so. It’s about a group of marines sent to investigate Ryushi after having lost contact with Machiko Noguchi for a few months. Either that or to investigate the Predator ship, I’m not sure which of the two it is.

After they investigate the Predator ship to find it mostly empty minus Predator corpses and a Queen Alien. After grabbing the last known living Predator and when they head out of the ship, their attacked by Aliens and then soon attacked by Predators, no doubt sent to retrieve the ship and their fallen comrades bodies.

The main Predator who doesn’t either get killed off or disappear is the one-handed Predator from Blood-sport, now wearing a cloth over his stub. He sort of saves the day, yet starts killing Marines too. It’s more or less what you’d expect a Predator to do.

What really helps this story stand out among the rest is the Predalien. Yes, that’s right; the movie wasn’t the first place to debut the Hybrid of the two species. Turns out the barely living Predator the Marines had gotten was carrying an Alien in him, resulting in a powerful hybrid of the two.

This of course leads to our head Marine hero teaming up with the Predator to take down the Predalien. It’s a short, but cool fight and is definitely makes the rather boring story worthwhile. It ends with the two at a truce, both waiting for their “rides” to pick them up. While this wasn’t a very good story, it wasn’t bad either. Just boring, especially when how well done the first AvP story was, the standard was high.

Art comments: Saltares is a great artist, but this is not a place where he shines. Both Aliens and Predator look all right at best, there’s nothing to special bout them. While their not at the same realistic and detailed look from the previous artists, they still look all right. Predalien only gets a few panels, but what little we do see is great.

5 out of 10


Written: Randy Stradley

Art, for part 1: Chris Warner

For part 2: Mike Manley

Jim Hall

Mark Heike

Story comments: War is the official sequel to AvP, picking up with Machiko after a few years of living with the Predators. She has become alienated, stoic, and very unhappy. Not realizing that not all Predators where as nice and kind as Broken Tusk. This story is split in 2 parts, the first part the better of the 2, but sadly, the shorter as well.

Part 1 is all about Machiko and her narrating a life in the day as a Predator. From how they interact when on the battle field (You stole my kill!) to how they act when extracting a Queen from a hive. It’s this kind of in depth look at the Predator society that makes part 1 so great, and from a human perspective makes it even better. The leader of this mission is the same leader from Blood Time, which was a nice throwback.

It all goes according to plan, and Machiko ends up saving their asses from getting killed, but of course in true Predator fashion gets no thanks for it. We see an awesome face off with the queen, and an explanation that she can’t kill it because then this whole mission would have been in vain, so she finds a clever way out.

This is exactly what the sequel should have been, and only this. Machiko among the Predators, interacting, killing Aliens and showing us the inner systems of the Predator culture. That’s all we needed, nothing more, nothing less.

Unfortunately, we can’t be so lucky. With part 2 we see tie-ins to an Aliens comic that I never read, as well as some other mentions to other Dark Horse Comics that I’ve never heard of or read. It’s frustrating that they tangled that in with War, as it really clusters the story and takes away so much.

I won’t even explain the second part because it’s so bad and boring; it literally drags on and never seems to end. Just when you think something is going to lead to the end, it just leads to some other boring occurrence. While I liked seeing Machiko struggle to see if she should help the prisoner humans, or stay with the Predators, it’s all buried under this convoluting mess.

The ending is the cliché happy ending that you’d expect it to be. Nothing but sunshine and smiles around. What had a stellar opening just turned out to be one big mess. Definitely not a sequel worthy of the first AvP series.

Art comments: The art in the first half is great. Really, all the Predators are distinguishable, and you really see the swarm of Aliens and how huge of an army they are amassed together.

But, not surprisingly, the art in the second half falls apart. It’s flat, boring and just doesn’t fit what an AvP comic should have. For one, the Predator masks and looks are all simplified to look like Halloween costumes. Even the Aliens look poor and basic. While the art isn’t horrible, it certainly isn’t enough to warrant anything interesting about the second half.

3 out of 10


Written: Ian Edginton

Art: Alex Maleev

Story comments: Similar to what I said about the first AvP comic, I can sum up Eternal perfectly with this short statement:

This is one of the worst AvP comics of all time. It’s horrible to it’s very core and has no appealing factor whatsoever. It sucks. It’s horrible. Burn it!

All right, now that I’ve gotten that short moment of anger out, yes, this is an awful, awful story. It starts with some Chinese guy who’s dying after scamming some small village, it isn’t said what time this takes place in, just that it’s in China and that it’s in the past. I think it hinted that he’s over 1,000 years old, I’m not re-reading it again, no way no how in Hell.

Anyway…our main character is a reporter who was in Africa, her cameraman gets killed by guys using suits that was similar to Predator cloaking outfits. How you ask? Because the villain guy found a ship of predators that had crashed, with them all dead, and eats Predator hearts to live eternally.

I wish I was joking, oh how to god I wish I was joking and that this is a good story that makes at least SOME sense. But it doesn’t. It’s all one big cluster-**** and I can’t make heads or tails of it. The characters all suck, the storyline is horrible, and it’s all bad.

I will say this though, I do appreciate that the writer tried to do a different way of adding the Aliens to the story. Rather than it simply being the Predators having put them there, it’s some lab experiment gone wrong. Not good, but better than the same old same old for once.

Still, this is an awful story that just sucked the life out of this Omnibus. I’m not alone on my thoughts either, I’ve talked to others, at the shop and on forums, and all of them agree that this story is crap.

Art comments: One would think that Maleev can make anything good. Well, not anything. His art isn’t right at all for an AvP comic, and it feels like they put him on the comic because he’s a hot artist who has a strong fanbase or something. Either that or they wanted to diversify the art in the franchise. I can understand that, but no matter how you look at it, Maleev’s art only makes things worse and more confusing.

1 out of 10

Old Secrets

Written and Art: Alex Maleev

Story comments: this has absolutely NOTHING to do with Aliens vs. Predator. At all. It seems to have a throwback to some other comic that I’ve never heard of or read, and about some scientist who has a Predator corpse. She goes to some religious man who runs a church and he tells her a story about a knight fighting a dragon. After she leaves, it’s revealed that under the church are a bunch of Alien Eggs.

That’s it. That’s all. Nothing at all related to Aliens vs. Predator, except for a brief mention of the two, which doesn’t mean the story should be a part of a collection of AvP stories.

Since this is so short, I’m guessing this was a part of Dark Horse Presents.

I’m not familiar with any of Maleev’s writing, but if it’s anything like this, I’ll make sure to stay away from anything else. The story is just bland and boring, and has no place in this collection.

Art comments: All Maleev draws here is people talking. That’s it. Nothing interesting or worth while.

1 out of 10

The Web

Written: Ian Edginton

Art: Derek Thompson

Brian O’Connell

Story comments: After the waste of paper that was Eternal, I’m stunned that Dark Horse let Edginton touch this franchise again. But unlike last time, this is more of a continuation from the events on Ryushi in AvP, and that’s something I can’t help but love.

Here we have a band of space pirates land on some remote planet since their ship is failing and they need fuel and to repair it. About 2 seconds off the ship, their attacked by Aliens, a few of them getting killed off fast as the other escape into a building. When in there, they meet…surprise! The guy who was the kid who had his parents slaughtered in AvP!

This is a great twist and I love the throwback to AvP, and how it’s written more into the personal back story of this character, rather than him explaining the whole thing to the crew. Now he is a bitter old man, body highly deformed from experiments, and god knows what else, to make himself eternal to continue a crusade against all the Predators in the galaxy.

He owns a huge company, but uses a hologram of what he used to look like for the CEO and Board Members to keep what he’s doing secret. He lives on the remote planet, breeding Aliens and luring Predators there to hunt them, only for the planet to explode (from the outside, not inside. He is safe there, from what I can tell) and kill the Predators in the process.

So he is about to use the crew as robot heads and chests for Aliens to burst from when they bolt. One guy gets caught and is turned into a robot, the final two surviving members, the Captain and some random girl he hates, get back to the ship but fail to launch before the explosion, killing them instantly.

I didn’t mind them dying, as they where throwaway plot devices used for this short story. Their death means nothing and has no weight. We soon see that our real main character, the deformed man, is still making Aliens and getting ready for more predators to come. Working on an endless cycle of carnage and revenge.

This story was actually all right, and for the short amount of pages it is, it’s a worthwhile and fun read.

Art comments: The art here is smooth, sleek, more like what you’d expect of the 90’s style of art. It’s in black and white, which was a bonus for me since I love black and white, and is all very well done. It’s nothing to talk about really, the Aliens look great, though the Predators look a bit off. Almost…fluffy, if that makes any sense.

7 out of 10

Final comments: While the first volume of the AvP omnibus has a few crapper/boring stories, for the most part it’s a great read and is something that anyone who is a fan of either franchise should check out. If the movies discouraged you possibly, trust me, the first AvP story makes this 25$ Omnibus worth it all. That and the continuity used through it are nicely done, even if some of it isn’t all that important.

Despite the fact that stories like Eternal suck, they don’t bring down the entire Omnibus, and really, I’d suggest you buy this for the first AvP story alone it’s so good. But for 25 bucks it’s a good buy and a great collection that either hardcore AvP fans like me can enjoy, or more casual comics/movie fans can pick up and love.

Definitely Buy It

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