The issue opens with some weak dream exposition. It doesn’t fit the narrator’s voice–Stradley never establishes why he’s using it (I think it’s a callback to the Aliens series where people have nightmares around the aliens)–and it’s a weak opening.
But then Stradley recovers beautifully. Until the end of this issue, Aliens vs. Predator is more a Western than a sci-fi thriller. The sci-fi elements are all well-done, but the narrative tone is straight out of Rio Bravo. He continues strengthening his characters as he introduces the titular elements–lots of aliens and Predator money shots this issue, but it doesn’t feel forced.
Norwood has a lot to do with the art being forceful but not overdone. I won’t say his inability to draw figures is a bonus, however. It’s just how well he composes the panels, how well he implies movement.
It’s good stuff.
Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Phill Norwood; inkers, Karl Story, Mark Propst, Brian Stelfreeze, Stine Walsh and Dave Dorman; colorist, Monika Livingston; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Diana Schutz; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.