Review – Predator: Fire and Stone #1 (Dark Horse)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Christopher Mooneyham
Release Date: 22nd October 2014
Once again, the potentially jarring release schedule raises its head in Dark Horse’s Fire and Stone event, with this issue taking place after all three other series, meaning that once again we’re getting a glimpse into the future and seeing just how these existing arcs are eventually going to pan out. It’s a curious decision, but a fairly unavoidable one, and to be fair there aren’t quite as many questions raised about this series as there was with AvP: Fire and Stone a couple of a weeks ago.
Williamson keeps the exposition light here, allowing the story to move forwards almost entirely unencumbered by the events which have previously transpired. A wise move for sure, and one that allows the bulk of the focus here to fall on Galgo. Unfortunately, this in turn highlights just about the only weakness in this particular arc. Namely the fact that, when all’s said and done, Galgo isn’t really all that likeable as a main protagonist. This isn’t a determined, focused Ellen Ripley staring down an Alien Queen to protect her newfound family, nor is it a fiercely intense Dutch Schaefer putting his life on the line to take down a seemingly unstoppable foe. Instead, what we have here is a sort of self-serving Han Solo without any of the trademark ‘scoundrel’ charm, something his actions in the early portion of this issue only serve to reinforce. A minor flaw, perhaps, but for a character who has survived three arcs of Aliens, Predators and god knows what else, I’d expect to at least find myself rooting for him in some way by now. That said, with a lot of his exploits currently unseen (again due to the release schedule), I may not have had a chance to soak in that one defining moment that pushes him into the unquestioned ‘hero’ role. I guess all will be revealed in due course.
That particular niggle aside, this issue features some impressively slick cat-and-mouse action as the surviving crew attempts to take on their aging stowaway. Featuring perhaps the most polished and tense action sequences of the event so far (with only Chris Roberson’s frenzied surge for survival in Aliens: F&S coming close), Williamson shows a firm grasp of just what makes the Predator so utterly compelling as a threat, and clearly relishes the opportunity to showcase some of this hulking behemoth’s most iconic ‘toys’. As strong as Williamson’s pacing and grasp of the subject matter may be however, the main selling point of this particular series is undoubtedly going to be the stunning artwork of Chris Mooneyham. Utilising the same ‘sketchy-yet-detailed’ style which he uses to such scintillating effect in Five Ghosts, Mooneyham provides some visually jaw-dropping moments over the course of this book, including a splash page reveal that may rank as one of my all-time favourite depictions of the Predator. Possessing one of the most unique artistic styles in comics at the moment, Mooneyham strikes the perfect balance between frantic movement and lingering detail, and his layouts and visual beats are truly second to none.
Overall, while the emotional investment isn’t quite there in the main character yet – for me, at least – this book overcomes this minor shortcoming by providing a story that demonstrates a clear affection for the Predator mythos, a firm understanding about just what makes these creatures so awesome, and showcases one of the most talented artists in the business today doing what he does best. Like everything else in Dark Horse’s Fire and Stone event so far, this one is highly, highly recommended, folks.
Don’t forget to check out our Dark Horse: Fire & Stone Review and Interview Hub for all our coverage of this momentous event in one place.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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