Sunday, March 31, 2013

CBR Predator OMNIBUS Vol. 1


It's time to revisit the PREDATOR universe with these classic tales from Dark Horse Comics!

Want more Alien/Predator-related reviews? Check the following!!

Comic title: Predator OMNIBUS: Volume 1
Art by Chris Warner, Ron Randall, Dan Barry and various
Written by Mark Verheiden & Dan Barry

Published by Dark Horse Comics
From 2007
Lineup Alien/Predator Series
Format: Omnibus-sized Trade Paperback collecting Predator: Concrete Jungle, Predator: Cold War, Predator: Dark River, Predator: The Bloody Sands of Time and stories from Dark Horse Comics #1, 2, 4-7 & 10-12.

Just after starting making comics about the Alien franchise in '88, 20th Century Fox launched a Predator line as well at the same publisher, Dark Horse.

The idea wasn't just to adapt their movies, but to further expand the franchise, to create a whole new original universe, which is in my eyes a better move, and much more creative in the end.

They started with an original Predator mini-series and after an adaptation of the second film they launched several other stories that ran from the late 80s to the late 90s. In these pages new concepts around the Predator creatures were developed that would even translated to the movies over the years...

This first volume of the Predator Omnibuses collects the first couple of years of Predator comics as well as the entire "Detective Schaefer Trilogy". The biggest portion of the book being written by screenwriter and television scribe Mark Verheiden (The Mask, Battlestar Galactica).

The Omnibus opens with "Concrete Jungle", written by Mark Verheiden with art by Chris Warner and Ron Randall. I already reviewed this one separately here. It works as a direct sequel to Predator 1 and was the story that inspired the movie Predator 2. It follows Detective Schaefer, brother of Dutch Schaefer from the original movie (Schwarzie) as he faces a Predator threat in mid-summer 1989 in New York City.

In "Cold War" also from Verheiden and Ron Randall, Schaefer is forced to join US troops in an operation in Russian territory. Under the guise of a Cold War threat, both Americans and Russians are trying to get hold of tech from the Predator Hunters, crash landed in Siberia by accident, both willing to sacrifice their own soldiers for that matter. Schaefer tags with Lt. Ligachev to kick the monsters out of our planet Earth for good.

Finally, "Dark River" is the last episode in this trilogy. Verheiden and Randall offer us one last adventure as NYPD Detective Schaefer goes back to the jungle of Val Verde to get some answers about the whereabouts of his brother Dutch. But it seems that the Predator he fought there seven years earlier survived and has gone berserk in the jungle! This one has notably some great colors from David Nestelle.

After that we have some smaller 3-issues arc or one shots stories.

"Rite of Passage" by writer Ian Edginton and artist Rick Leonardi. It follows a young tribesman in Africa has he goes through his rite into adulthood. Meanwhile his little village gets the surprise visit of a Predator on his own rite of passage...

"Pride at Nghasa" by Chuck Dixon and Enrique Alcatena. Another tale taking place in Africa. The story isn't that original nor does it bring anything new to the table, but it's written by Chuck Dixon so at least it's pretty captivating to read with some great dialogues. A Predator starts killing people in a British Colony...

"Bloody Sands of Time" written by Dan Barry and Mike Richardson with Dan Barry on art duties. After coming back from the Amazon, an US soldier brings a similar tale to Dutch's. Blamed for the killing of his entire squad, he is going on a trial. His attorney discovers that similar stories took place in South Vietnam in 1968 as well in France during World War 1...

And finally, "Blood Feud" by Neil Barrett Jr. and Leo Durañona. In typical 1980s indie comics style, it's a very discontinued and confusing violent comics that narrates how a blind scientist working on giving vision back through a thermal imaging has to fight a Predator on a vendetta against his family.

All seven tales explore the Predator creatures and were key into establishing his universe in these comic books. Since Predators are mostly mute on screen and kept mysterious in the films, it was these stories by Dark Horse that developed and defined much of the mythos.

Overall, a fantastic read!

Many of the concepts from these first stories were incorporated in the films since then. I specially liked the three core Predator stories Concrete Jungle, Cold War, and Dark River.

The art is consistently "okay" - nothing great, but it was good enough to keep the Predators "alien". Some great comic book authors worked on these series from Dan Barry, Chris Warner to Chuck Dixon (which I wasn't expecting to find amongst these at first!).

The weakest of the bunch is probably the confusing Blood Feud story. Nothing exceptional. And as much as I love Concrete Jungle, it's also the least well thought book since it was original conceived as an-going series and then turned into a mini. The story jumps from New York City to Val Verde's jungle, and back to NY. But it is an important part of Predator history as it also is the one that was establishing the Predator mythos on paper for the first time.

All in all, a recommended read for science-fiction and Predators fans alike.

I give it:
3 / 3 Aaylas!

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