Thursday, March 6, 2014

Paneled Goods: Aliens VS Predator

Emerald City Comiccon is just around the corner and I'm thinking of items I'll be hunting down at the show.  Most likely I'll look to add to my Neca Predator figure collection, hopefully they have Arnold caked in mud/final showdown edition.  My last few shows have yielded some great deals on Dark Horse Omnibus collections of Aliens, Terminator and Aliens VS PredatorAliens had some great scary and exciting arcs collected while Terminator was just slow going.  AVP however is some of the fastest page turning I've encountered in quite a while.  It all starts with Aliens VS Predator, originally printed as a 5 issue mini-series in 1990.  The story is set on Ryushi, a desert planet long without civilized inhabitants but now home to a colony of rustlers and ranchers called Prosperity Wells.  Corporate ramrod Machiko Noguchi is still adjusting to the 19 hours of sunlight a day while dealing with the ornery ranchers of Rhynths, a rhino like creature farmed for food.

Unfortunately, Ryushi is also site of Predator hunting exercises where a captured Alien queen is forced to produce eggs that are then placed on the planet to fill it with game via facehuggers necking with local wildlife.  All hell breaks loose when the "bugs" start running wild and the "hunters" show up to hone their skills.  Machiko joins the fray to try and save the community folk then teams up with a lone, wounded Predator to take out the Alien trash.  Like I said, this was some fast reading.  An interesting dialogue between pilots regarding morality, power and nature starts us off before moving into some alien carnage.  Writer Randy Stradley and artists Phill Norwood and Chris Warner do a terrific job in giving us a quick and interesting read.  The characters, human and otherwise, have personality while the art is textured and exciting while taking advantage of the story's space and desert settings to give us clean and detailed juxtaposed action with spaceships, armor, weaponry, arid landscapes, xenomorphs and a whole lotta exploded rib cages.

The Predators are depicted as tribal, violent and when necessary, honorable.  The Aliens are about what you'd expect, hissing and swarming and killing everything they can.  The teaming up of Machiko and the Predator is interesting as they're both trying to survive but cannot communicate through traditional means.  One scene was particularly surprising in it's violence as a young boy's family and dog is brutally slaughtered by a Predator.  But hey, these were rated R movies right?  The series was a success and spawned multiple comic book sequels.  Up until 1992's release of Image Comics' Youngblood, AVP stood as the best selling comic book by an alternative publisher (basically not Marvel or DC).  Many ideas from the series were used in 2004's Alien Versus Predator feature film from Paul Anderson of Mortal Kombat and Soldier fame starring mother fucking Lance Henriksen.

In 1994, Capcom released a badass side scrolling arcade game featuring Arnold's Dutch Schaeffer fighting alongside the Predators to take out the Alien menace:

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