Sunday, February 22, 2015

CBR Tarzan versus Predator

Remember that time Tarzan fought a Predator? You don't?

Too bad, it was easily a thousand times better than the awful AVP films...

Comic title: Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan versus Predator: At the Earth's Core aka simply Tarzan vs, Predator
Art by Lee Weeks
Story by Walter Simonson

Published by Dark Horse Comics
From 1996
Lineup Dark Horse Comics Tarzan series/Predator series
Format: Trade paperback collecting the mini-series Tarzan versus Predator #1-4.

If some of you out there didn't know that, the character of Tarzan was originally created  by renowned writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, father of this other classic pulp hero John Carter of Mars.

Tarzan first popped up in the classic novel Tarzan of the Apes in 1912 and would soon make the rapid transition into newspaper comic strips in 1929. Over the decades Tarzan went on having a long, right and popular second life in comic book form, in stories across various publishers such as Dell ComicsCharlton Comics, DC Comics and even Marvel Comics.

In 1996 Dark Horse Comics would get the rights to publish all kinds of Tarzan comics. They first simply reprinted a lot of classic work and then went on exploring the character through their own lore, mostly based around the original novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, ignoring the countless other previous comics and live-action films. (Although it's fun to note they would also publish an adaptation of the Disney animated film in 1999.)

And with this being Dark Horse we're talking about, they would soon start crossing Tarzan over with anything they could get their hands on. They would mix Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan with all kinds of other proprieties. Soon the King of the Jungle would be seen ducking it out with the likes of DC Comics' Batman and Superman.. to finally the Predators in this above Tarzan vs. Predator: At the Earth's Core miniseries.

And it couldn't have come at a better time. After so many crossovers with the Aliens series, so much that these two franchises are basically part of the same license nowadays, it was starting to ruin the series for some. There have been all kinds of random crossovers with the Predators, some pretty good with Judge Dredd or Batman, to some worst ideas like Dark Horse Comics' infamous 1995 crossover-event  "Hunting the Heroes: The Predators Attack!" with the likes of Ghost and X to some... really questionable results...

Our story begins in Africa, as Lord Greystoke - aka Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle - is asked to help on some discovery.

A strange signal was glimpsed heading to the legendary Pellucidar, the last primitive forest at the "Center of the Earth"... in the North Pole! Where it is always daylight!

Tarzan head there with some of his close friends from his tribe and Jane. They soon find out the place invaded by strange outsiders.. The Predators are using Pellucidar as their new hunting ground!

But this place has more than one dangerous race of invaders threatening our heroes. Besides the last living dinosaurs and the dangerous local primitive natives, there is one particularly dangerous race of individuals everyone thought extinct... the Mahars! They were exiled and exterminated from Mahar City not long ago by one friend of Tarzan. This last Mahar plans to use the outsiders and the Predators to clean the slate in his favor!

Meanwhile the Predators prove to be a much bigger dangerous challenge for Tarzan of the Apes!

The hunters are not just testing the humans, they're on a big hunt, collecting trophies for their collection! Tarzan loses some close friends. Jane disappears. This is a fight our hero can't win with sheer strength alone. He has to turn the table around, make the hunters the ones being hunted...

Tarzan discover the Predators are not without their own twisted code of honor. Unlike one win winged telepathic pterodactyl..

It's... a really unique and unexpected crossover, that's one thing for sure.

Burroughs’s original Tarzan was very different from the mainstream image of him most of us have through pop culture or the Johnny Weissmuller films. For one this is a Tarzan who has a perfect English speech, and let's not forget the entire science-fiction-ysh backstory. This is the original iteration of the character as imagined by its creator, without Hollywood downplaying the more mystical approach. Actually this Tarzan used to be rarely seen swinging around vines and instead simply leaped from tree to tree.

The Predators serve as a perfect link to the more outlandish concepts such as Pellucidar. Speaking off, Pellucidar came from Burrough novels about the Hollow Earth. It's almost like a 3-way crossover between several Edgar Rice Burroughs characters and the Predators.

While the Predator side doesn't get much exposure through the story (in fact, we never even get to see one them unmasked through this entire comic! Which is also nice if you ask me..), it allows the monsters to serve a better purpose as the original slasher villains they were in the original first Predator film.

There's a lot of nods and references here and there, it is almost hinted the grand villain is gonna be one of the green Martians from Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars .. but it only turns out to be this Mahar evil pterodactyl villain. It's a shame, what with the whole scifi angle, I almost expected to see John Carter appear at one point or another.

It's a really fun pulp-ysh type of story. Perfectly executed by the great Walter Simonson. Our writer is very familiar with these Dark Horse proprieties since he was actually the first artist on the original Alien comics who would went on writing so many Aliens and Predator stories over the decades. He's also a huge fan of Tarzan, as most comic book artists are, so they couldn't have picked a better choice to handle this tale.

The art is really fun and almost has a certain vintage charm to it, on purpose. Lee Weeks does a fantastic job, particularly on this more muscular take on Tarzan himself and the Predator creatures.

There are so many fun moments, we even get to see a pack of Preds hunting dinos, and taking down a T-Rex! Yeah, you read that right! Including a great moment near the end when the Predators appear to let Tarzan live as he was finally seen as worthy opponent who had bested the Predators honorably.

This 1997 trade paperback contains all 4 issues, a pretty interesting preface by Dark Horse editor Peet Janes who mostly took care of the Star Wars line through the 1990s as well as Tarzan's, and a really gorgeous new cover by painter Killian Plunkett.

Overall, Tarzan versus Predator is actually a pretty solid read. Highly Recommended if you're fan of either protagonists. As far as random crossovers with either Aliens or Predators go, this is one of the better ones. Easily. It even makes some sense!

This mini digged really deep into Tarzan lore, and even if you're not super familiar with all of it like I wasn't, it was still a really fun read and serves as a great introduction to the Tartan mythos.

Despite its very silly title once you read it aloud, it's such a fun comic! Taking both protagonists very seriously and respecting the legacy that came along these two very distinct characters. It's a crossover that simply makes it all work in the end.

The original TPB has long since gone out of print, thankfully it's really easy to find a copy since copies were produced in such big quantities in the 1990s. Hopefully they will reprint it someday (but the rights to the Tarzan license might be a bit tricky to get back), in the meantime you can probably find a second hand copy around easily for pretty cheap these days.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Aaylas!


  1. This is interesting and definitely a crossover I've never heard of. Though I wonder how it'll compare to the upcoming Archie vs Predator? ;)

    1. Man... this Archie crossover just needs to be half as good as the older Punisher meets Archie and it will be all kinds of awesome!