Predator 4 (March 1990)

Street gangs versus the Predators. It’s actually a good battle scene. It takes up a good third of the issue; Verheiden definitely comes up with exiting visuals for the artists to realize. The comic’s pretty lame though. Verheiden front loaded it with characters who disappear–the black police captain shows up again here; why’s he memorable? He’s black. It’s lazy writing and unbelievable. The narration from the family man cop is pretty dang good though. Verheiden never gets into Schaefer’s head this issue and it works out. The family man has a lot better observations about the situation, far more emotionally … Continue reading Predator 4 (March 1990)

Predator 3 (November 1989)

So Schaefer gets kidnapped by a drug lord and has to break out. Meanwhile his partner is trying to let everyone know there’s an alien invasion coming. Lots of warships cloaked in Manhattan, you know… the norm. Occasionally Verheiden will give Warner some awesome scene to draw–the Pam Am building being a meeting place for the aliens and the military–but a lot of the comic is the South American stuff. It’s a bridging issue is all and a four issue series shouldn’t need one. Especially not since Verheiden contrives the whole thing with the drug lords. It would have been … Continue reading Predator 3 (November 1989)

Predator 2 (September/October 1989)

So even though this Predator takes place in New York, Verheiden thinks it’s got room to go down to the jungle from the first movie. Oddly, it does. Oh, and I think he must have referred to the general by name in the last one because it’s all over the place here. But, yeah, the pacing. Verheiden pretty much just skips between the two partners, with the family man cop’s narration being a lot more thoughtful. The Schaefer–that’s Arnie’s character’s brother–narration is more forced. Verheiden knows he needs some kind of exposition, goes with it. There’s some neat time lapses … Continue reading Predator 2 (September/October 1989)

Predator 1 (June 1989)

Cops, gangs and a Predator… sounds like a movie. Oh, wait, it was a movie. Only Mark Verheiden’s Predator came before Predator 2, probably when they thought Schwarzenegger would play his own brother. But Verheiden sets the story in New York, narrated by a tired detective with a crazy huge partner (the brother of Schwarzenegger’s character from the first movie). They investigate this weird gang war, which has the general from the movie hanging around (oddly unnamed so far), and get into it with their boss. It feels a little like Robocop in terms of urban dystopia, but Verheiden does … Continue reading Predator 1 (June 1989)

Dark Horse Comics 16 (December 1993)

I feel like I need to send Dan Jolley a thank you letter for making this issue of Dark Horse Comics tolerable. Well, for his Aliens story anyway. It’s got an unexpected conclusion. There’s not a lot of story—it’s a chase sequence and a resolution—but Jolley plays with expectations a little. Nadeau and Pallot do fine on art. Naifeh and inker Alex Nino, however, are even worse this issue than last on their Thing story. Not the mention Martin’s conclusion is mildly inexplicable. It’s too bad Dark Horse didn’t keep their creators on the Thing comics consistent. Martin really doesn’t … Continue reading Dark Horse Comics 16 (December 1993)

Dark Horse Comics 14 (October 1993)

I realized, a few pages in to Mike W. Barr and Brad Rader’s Mark story, Rader’s a good artist. He’s at the beginning of his career, but he’s good. He does these Eisner-homage close-ups. Nice stuff. But The Mark looked bad at the start—because the character’s design is ludicrous. It takes place in a pseudo-Nazi Germany or something. The writing’s generally okay, but the comics’s all about those close-ups. Dorkin and Thompson finish their Predator story next and, wow, does Thompson get lazy. Dorkin’s script is dumb—his high humor is a dying guy making dumb jokes about being Ford-tough, but … Continue reading Dark Horse Comics 14 (October 1993)

Dark Horse Comics 13 (September 1993)

So is Dark Horse Comics where Dark Horse stuck all their licensed properties once Presents’s sales dropped? The creative teams are mildly interesting. Jim Woodring writing Aliens—nothing happens, it’s an all action story—with Kilian Plunkett on the art? It looks good anyway. Ted Naifeh pencilling a Thing story? It’s more distinct because Edward Martin III’s script sort of ignores all the other Dark Horse Thing comics. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, but Martin’s a little less creative than one would like. Then it’s an Evan Dorkin Predator story. It’s kind of funny—a Predator crashes a paint ball competition. But … Continue reading Dark Horse Comics 13 (September 1993)

Dark Horse Presents 147 (October 1999)

I wanted to like Ragnok—not because Arcudi’s writing, but because Sook’s on the art. But it’s dark and indistinct. Lots and lots of black—very Mignola-lite. If Arcudi maybe had an interesting script, it would work. Unfortunately, the script seems to be going for something eccentric; Sook’s art doesn’t fit it. Maybe it’ll get better…. The last Ghost installment is a waste of time. Luke’s writing has gotten steadily worse as the installments went on (this time, when he tries to talk about sexism, it’s painful). Worse, Baker and Kolle’s art suffers from the script. There’s this waste of a full … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 147 (October 1999)

Dark Horse Presents 146 (September 1999)

I was really expecting more from Edginton here. His Aliens vs. Predator starts out as a rip of Alien—bickering crew, uncharted planet—only adding in aliens once the people land (they don’t have spacesuits either). But then it turns out to be a poorly conceived “thirty years in the future” sequel to the first Aliens vs. Predator series. Doesn’t help Thompson and O’Connell’s art is weak. Though I guess the spaceship looks all right. Shabrken continues with enthusiasm from artists Henry and Lieber (though the scale of the events gets out of control). It’s not terrible—Hartley’s writing is solidly mediocre—it’s just … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 146 (September 1999)

Dark Horse Presents 137 (November 1998)

So Nazis versus Predator and the best Marz can come up with is a story set in South America? Castellini’s art makes up for some of it—even though he can’t draw the Predator, the rest of it looks good. But Marz’s writing is pretty dumb. Seagle and Gaudiano have another My Vagabond Days, this time about the space program. Sort of. Seagle seems to think doing a lyrical narrative about growing up in the Sixties is inherently interesting. Even with Gaudiano’s artwork, it’s not interesting. Seagle, it turns out, didn’t grow up in the Sixties as a teen… have I … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 137 (November 1998)

Dark Horse Presents 124 (August 1997)

It’s a strange issue. First is Seagle and Rouleau’s take on Predator, which might be the most harmless Predator story ever. Three boys camping out in one’s backyard go into the nearby swamp and see a Predator. Rouleau’s art is charming, the writing’s decent… still, it’s a Predator story. It can only be so good. Then Lewis has a long story about two adopted kids and their tragic misadventures. The root of the problem is their choice in gifts at their first Christmas after being adopted. Lewis’s cartooning does well, but his writing is the real success. He manages to … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 124 (August 1997)

Dark Horse Presents 119 (March 1997)

I’m not sure what Nixey’s Trout is about or if it’s going to be about the events of this installment (in some fantasy land, an elf brings a living nightmare back from his sleep… or something along those lines). Since the writing’s so tied to the confusing plot, it’s mostly about Nixey’s art. He combines a fantasy setting with some disturbing ideas (more than imagery) and creates something quite nice. Dorkin’s Hectic Planet is about a girl’s mysterious new boyfriend. Some good art, totally fine writing… it’s like “Friends” for nineties hipsters. Adams’s Monkeyman and O’Brien this time features a … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 119 (March 1997)

Dark Horse Presents 69 (February 1993)

The Predator story keeps getting worse (it turns out it’s just a prologue to some limited series, I love it when Dark Horse uses Presents to advertise their licensed properties). Given Raskin’s worsening artwork and Stradley’s bad writing–he uses a government report as the narrative exposition, he’s used similar devices in the past successfully… here he fails. It’s an awful story; very happy it’s the last installment. Duffy and Sakamoto have another Nestrobber installment. It’s mean-spirited and lacking in charm. I think it’s supposed to be funny, but I’m completely perplexed with Duffy’s intent. It’s supposed to be manga, but … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 69 (February 1993)

Dark Horse Presents 68 (December 1992)

The Predator story continues and its problems become real clear. Stradley’s trying to take a “real” approach to certain elements–gang members, serial killers–and it just comes off as silly with the Predator running around. Raskin’s art suggests he’s unprepared for such a big assignment (and Wiacek seems to have been brought in to correct things via the inks). Then there’s the inexplicable cliffhanger. So far, very unimpressive. Campbell’s got two Alec strips. One is really cute, the other is just a nice example of a one page narrative. Davis is back with Paleolove. The story is longwinded and the art … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 68 (December 1992)

Dark Horse Presents 67 (November 1992)

The issue opens with an idiotic story about an annoying character called Zoo-Lou. Hedden and McWeeney usually do great work. The art here’s excellent, but the writing is an absolute nightmare. Dark Horse really loves poking fun at themselves… and usually it comes out awful, like Zoo-Lou. An Accidental Death comes to its conclusion here. No one does this kind of angst and suffering like Brubaker. Everything he does these days is a waste compared to what he could be doing. Brilliant work from Shanower too. Duffy and Sakamoto have an awful story called Nestrobber. It’s just atrocious. The Predator … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 67 (November 1992)

Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special (April 1991)

This special is far from an accurate representation of Dark Horse Presents. Everything looks very professional. The Aerialist and Heartbreakers installments are both long needed establishments of the series’ ground situation. I even liked the Heartbreakers one (Bennett’s writing is far stronger from the clones’ perspective, versus their creator). There’s also lots of disposable stuff–Concrete, The American and Black Cross are all weak, though Warner’s art is better on Cross than I’ve ever seen it. Chadwick and Verheiden use their stories to blather about American culture. Of the two Miller’s–Give Me Liberty and Sin City–I almost prefer Sin City. Liberty‘s … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special (April 1991)

Dark Horse Presents 46 (November 1990)

You know, the Aliens stories in Dark Horse Presents, for whatever reason, never bugged me. However, this Predator standalone… it’s really out of place. Maybe it’s because Arcudi’s writing is so lame (he does have a good twist, but Walton’s art makes it hard to appreciate as everyone looks the same). It’s not so much bad, just really lame. Harris’s Crash Ryan is just getting better. He does a bunch of action (and gets two story slots in this issue) and then has a fantastic reveal. He mixes the awkward politics–it’s pro-worker, but anti-Soviet and anti-Nazi. Awesome conclusion has American … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 46 (November 1990)

Dark Horse Presents 36 (February 1990)

The Aliens vs. Predator story is most impressive for Norwood’s illustration… but not of aliens or Predators. The story opens on some alien world and it’s just breathtaking. Once the actual story starts (Stradley’s two conversationalists talking about hunting experiences while Predators hunt aliens), it can’t compete with those visuals. Still, for what amounts to shameless self-promotion, these prologues are very successful. Davis’s Delia & Celia features a number of young women “playing” the two leads. Davis can’t maintain faces for them to the point he must have been photo-referencing. Each panel, they get a new, distinct face. The writing … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 36 (February 1990)

Dark Horse Presents 35 (December 1989)

The Predator story opening the comic gets it off to a good start (it’s really just part of the prologue to the first Aliens vs. Predator series). Stradley writes an excellent conversation about social Darwinism between these two pilots, which Norwood then adapts into something featuring Predators fighting for dominance. Well, it was probably the reverse, right? Marvel style? The first Heartbreakers story is mildly incomprehensible–it’s packed with detail, all about cloning, interoffice politics and the future. I like Guinan’s art, but I can’t tell if the soldiers are all supposed to be identical clones. His visual reference all seems … Continue reading Dark Horse Presents 35 (December 1989)

Aliens vs. Predator 4 (December 1990)

It’s a weak close, partially because Stradley probably needed another issue to fully develop the relationship between the protagonist and the friendly Predator (he also needed space to give it a proper ending), but mostly because Chris Warner is no replacement for Norwood. Warner kills that beautiful design sense Norwood brings to the book. Instead of the panels being so well-composed it can distract from the narrative, they’re rote. Aliens vs. Predator, between Warner and Campanella, becomes a boring movie tie-in. Norwood made it special. Even with the action pacing and the lack of narration, Stradley’s able to keep his … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator 4 (December 1990)

Aliens vs. Predator 3 (October 1990)

The change in inkers makes Aliens vs. Predator look exactly as drab and boring as I’d expected the first few issues to look. Campanella can’t do much to Stradley’s figures, but he rounds out the faces–not all the time, which makes the art disjointed–but definitely in close ups. Everyone looks like they’ve had the definition erased. The issue’s a solid effort. Stradley is fully into the action part of the story now, so it’s nowhere near as good as the previous two. He’s strengthening his protagonist (while taking away most of her narration), but measuring her arc. She’s not acting … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator 3 (October 1990)

Aliens vs. Predator 2 (August 1990)

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 … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator 2 (August 1990)

Aliens vs. Predator 1 (June 1990)

Norwood’s very design-oriented–he’s a Hollywood storyboard guy–and the art suffers for it. The setting, the designs of the human settlement on an alien planet, is great. The panel composition is stunning. The figures are awkward and bad. Everyone’s proportions are off a little bit. They’re too stout for their height. Stradley’s writing here is really strong–he has a female narrator, but makes distance part of her character (I’m not sure if she’s Japanese because it’s a comic from 1990 about the future of corporations or if Stradley used it to add even more distance, this time cultural). But his establishing … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator 1 (June 1990)

Aliens vs. Predator 0 (July 1990)

Stradley’s issue is two bored cargo spaceship having a conversation while Norwood’s art shows us all about the Predators getting ready for the Aliens vs. Predator series. First it’s showing the alien eggs, then it’s a bunch of fighting for dominance. The off panel dialogue back and forth constantly relates to the dialogue-less action going on. The issue is reprints of prologue stories from Dark Horse Presents, which explains why it’s always a surprise when the story continues following a climax in the conversation, but it works. I’m not particularly familiar with Norwood but he does a fine job here. … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator 0 (July 1990)

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 6 (September 2010)

Stradley really doesn’t “earn” his ending here. He decides, on the last issue, to make it all about the protagonist reconciling with her demons and choosing life. It’s inspiration and heart-warming and not at all the story he’d been writing up until this point. Only this issue and the previous one even hint at the character’s need for internal reconciliation–the comic has a large cast and it’s not like the protagonist gets much page time as anything but the deus ex machina to save her boyfriend’s heinie. Except this time he sort of saves her. It’s actually a rather dramatic … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 6 (September 2010)

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 5 (July 2010)

Stradley compresses here. Weeks and weeks. Maybe even a month. It’s okay until he gets to the action part of the issue, which is then far less interesting than it needs to be. He follows the civilians (the protagonist’s sidekicks who haven’t really done anything since the first issue–oh, wait, her boyfriend’s there) for the last quarter of the issue and they’re boring. Stradley seems to be using them because they give the best device for his exposition…. Coming after the previous issue, with its strong battle scenes, this issue seems not just anemic but out of place. Stadley had … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 5 (July 2010)

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 4 (May 2010)

The romance between the protagonist and the nerdy guy doesn’t work. He’s not really a nerdy guy, of course, because he used to be in the Marines. Or something. But he’s basically the nerdy guy. He’s even got a nerdy name–I think Die Hard ruined the name Ellis for anyone serious. But part of the comic needs the romance to be touching and significant and it’s not. Maybe Stradley doesn’t buy it either. He writes zero chemistry between them. They seem like siblings. Otherwise, it’s a rather good issue. It’s a big invading an alien planet issue so there’s a … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 4 (May 2010)

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 3 (April 2010)

Wow… it’s a good issue. All throughout I mean. There’s even a big action sequence at the end and it works. Probably because Stradley writes the sequence instead of just provides a list of actions for Leonardi to draw. As for the art, it’s still terrible. I might have to revise my opinion. Maybe Leonardi isn’t drawing the protagonist as cheesecake material because he’s simply not willing to take the time. Unless inker Pennington is going all Vince Colletta–there are a bunch of panels where the characters don’t even have faces. It’s not clear if Leonardi just didn’t bother drawing … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 3 (April 2010)

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 2 (February 2010)

Whatever my problems with Leonardi–they go on and on–I have to give him credit. He draws a female character in, basically, a bikini and doesn’t do it with any of the cheesecake objectification most comic book artists would. In fact, I didn’t even realize it; it just seemed the right outfit. (It’s a human wearing a Predator outfit for those who don’t follow Aliens vs. Predator). This issue follows the same formula as the first one. The beginning is some really dumb action scene, then the actual story starts and it’s good. Stradley gets in some nice homage to Aliens … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 2 (February 2010)

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 1 (January 2010)

It has a flashback. It has an actual flashback to explain the events in previous comic books to explain to the reader what’s pertinent. I tried the Dark Horse relaunches of Aliens and Predator. Both were atrocious on almost every level, but they also didn’t have any flashbacks to explain the ground situation to readers who hadn’t been loyally reading the Dark Horse licensed titles. Aliens vs. Predator has a flashback. It comes late in the issue, in the narrative even. The comic turns around, in terms of writing, about halfway through the issue. It opens badly with a big … Continue reading Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 1 (January 2010)