Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Release Date: 8th October 2014
“This isn’t a fight. No-one wins this. It’s just a slaughter on pause.”
An instantly memorable line and perhaps indicative of what’s to come in the third entry in Dark Horse’s Fire and Stone crossover. Building on the narrative established by the event’s stellar opening issues, AVP adds yet another dimension to this ever-expanding universe, drawing the fearsome Predators into the maelstrom.
Although the premise is ostensibly focussed on the conflict between the titular species, it’s the humans (and in this instance, crazed synthetics), who form the connective tissue of the story. The inevitable showdown will be fought amidst a backdrop of ruthless mercenaries, stolen Predator tech, and an android with a God complex, who seeks answers to the purpose of his creation.
The only caveat I have with the overall event so far, is its curious release schedule. This issue, for example, takes place at the end of the Prometheus storyline, currently on issue one, and prior to the as yet unreleased Predator series, therefore giving us prior knowledge of at least two key character arcs. Whether this will prove to be a misstep or stroke of genius remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn’t detract from a strongly scripted opening issue from Christopher Sebela, whose complex central character becomes a reluctant hero in the face of multiple threats.
From an art perspective, this release continues the high standards set in previous issues. From E.M. Gist’s stunning cover art, to the interiors by Ariel Olivetti, the book is just gorgeous to look at. Both artists share a dramatic, realistic style, favouring a subtle colour palette to bring the characters to life. Olivetti’s character design in particular is jaw-dropping, and his transformation of Elden from android to part human/part engineer is wonderfully unnerving.
With the Predator series set to hit the shelves later this month, Dark Horse’s event continues to go from strength to strength. Although maybe a little confusing with regards to the over-arching story, it’s certainly one you don’t want to miss.
For the latest instalment of Dark Horse’s Fire and Stone shared universe, we effectively leapfrog the events of Tobin and Ferreyra’s Prometheus mini-series as the surviving crew of the Geryon Armada find themselves fleeing LV-223, pursued by a truly horrific new foe. Oh, and there’s Aliens, naturally. Predators too, in case you were wondering.
It’s an interesting narrative choice to completely bypass the Prometheus arc, but after initially feeling somewhat jarring, things quickly settle themselves down into a solid, exciting story. In fact, rather than a negative, the ‘missing’ events of the Prometheus arc actually add an extra layer of intrigue to the proceedings. What the hell happened on LV-223 for the crew to end up in this kind of state? Where are the missing crewmembers? Alive and abandoned? Dead? And just what were the chain of events that led to the creation of Elden, the aforementioned ‘horrific foe’?
It’s interesting to see the development of certain characters from their fleeting appearances in Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1, and Sebela clearly relishes tackling the frayed tempers and battle-weariness of some of the key players. The artwork here is provided by Ariel Olivetti, and while his smooth, painted style works wonders in some of the splash pages and dramatic reveals, it occasionally look a little too clean for the frenzied, chaotic events which are unfolding. The visual highlight of the issue, for me at least, is Elden himself – an impressively horrific creation who I hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of during the rest of this event.
One minor niggle I had would be the fact that the Predators themselves do feel like something of an afterthought, at least for the time being, although the final panel of the issue all but guarantees they’re going to be taking a bigger role as the series moves forwards. Overall however, this is another strong addition to the Fire and Stone universe, and while it doesn’t quite maintain the incredibly high standard of its predecessors, it’s still definitely a worthwhile purchase, especially for readers planning on following the other three arcs.
Don’t forget to check out our Dark Horse: Fire & Stone Review and Interview Hub for all our coverage in one place.
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