Advance Review – Prometheus: Life and Death #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Andrew Mutti
Release Date:  June 8th, 2016

This is going to be a fairly difficult review for me to write, for obvious reasons.  With the final issue of Predator: Life and Death still to go on sale, I’m fairly wary about spoiling any of the developments that lead into this upcoming second arc.  As such, this is going to be a tricky balance between talking about what’s going on and actually revealing what’s going on.  So please, bear with me…

Let’s start with what I can say.  Prometheus: Life and Death picks up directly after the events of the Predator series, with the same cast of characters now reeling from their brutal encounter on LV-797.  The tone also shifts noticeably here, becoming more sci-fi horror than gung-ho 80s action – a welcome change in my book.  It’s also worth mentioning that the decision to retain the same cast (rather than jumping to a different time or place) works impressively in helping writer Dan Abnett build more of an investment in what were, let’s be honest, some fairly superficial characters.

We’re treated to the first hints of character development here as the crew try to process what they’ve been through while doing their best to stick to their new mission – a mission which, as could probably be guessed, goes off the rails spectacularly in the latter portion of this issue.  As the cover (and title) would suggest, this issue also features the introduction of the Engineers into the mix.  Or rather, one particularly menacing Engineer, ably illustrated by Italian artist Andrea Mutti.

Visually, Mutti uses a much softer hand than Brian Theis did on the Predator series, something which makes sense given the more sedate pace.  The characters are all instantly recognisable – something which can frequently cause problems when you have different artists dropping in and out of the same ongoing story – and yet Mutti is also able to stamp his unique style, displayed to such impressive effect in the likes of Rebels, on the proceedings.  Also, as I mentioned above, Mutti does an absolutely fantastic job with the Engineer’s introduction, including one particularly shocking panel which serves as easily my favourite of the whole event so far.

As I said, it’s fairly difficult to review this upcoming issue, and not just for spoiler-related issues.  This kind of long-form storytelling is incredibly difficult to evaluate on an issue-by-issue basis, particularly when you have one ebbing and flowing narrative spread out across seventeen issues.  As such, I think I may have been a little harsh on the Predator arc, particularly when I can now see the payoff in the Prometheus portion of the story.  It’s clear that the tone and style of the arcs are going to continue to change as the event moves forwards, and while the all-out action of the first series may not have necessarily been my cup of tea, the borderline survival horror of this one looks set to really elevate Life and Death to a whole new level.

Ultimately then, Prometheus: Life and Death adds a truly intriguing slant to the enigmatic, god-like Engineers while managing to balance tense horror, frantic action and character-based drama incredibly effectively.  As I’ve said before, Dark Horse Comics seem to be able to do no wrong with these franchises, and you can most definitely count me in for the rest of this event.

Rating: 4/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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