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Secondary Predation

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The Predator franchise is set for a big screen reboot. Luckily, this coincides with Dark Horse bringing Predator back to comics as well. The latter will set the stage for the former this week. 

The 1980s were the golden age for action films, and one of the best was 1987’s Predator.  Well, calling it an action movie really isn’t fair. It contained equal parts action, science-fiction, suspense and horror.

The film centered on mercenaries who were on a mission in Guatemala to infiltrate a rebel camp there. After their successful mission, but before they could leave the Guatemalan jungle, members of the team are hunted, skinned and killed by an alien of immense size and power. Only one member of the team, using his wits and survival instincts, makes it out alive.

A story about a group of soldiers you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley that in turn run into an alien that is tougher than almost all of them seems like it would be a good plot for one of EC Comics’ science-fiction titles of the 1950s. So it was only natural that Dark Horse picked up the license.

Dark Horse’s involvement with the Predator franchise began in 1989, a year after the company’s adaptation of another 20th Century Fox property, Aliens. The first series dealt with a Predator arriving in New York City and plaguing the brother of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character from the film. They set the precedent for relocating the alien beast to different geographic locations, not only in the comics, where the creature surfaces in places such as Siberia, Kenya, Alaska, and Oregon, but also in the film’s 1990 sequel.

The comics also had an advantage over the film in a number of areas. In addition to free choice of location, the adventures could be set in different time periods as well. It also allowed the Predator to crossover with other comic properties such as Batman, Magnus the Robot Fighter and Judge Dredd, and freed the concept to face off against other franchises Dark Horse held, most notably, Aliens, a pairing that eventually made its way to the silver screen.

While the Predator had a nice, ten year run in the comics, its film fortunes faded. Predator 2 failed at the box office, and its cinematic pairings with the Alien franchise did better but were critically lambasted. But the franchise is due for a comeback, and that comeback might be coming this summer.

Sin City’s Robert Rodriguez is producing a new entry in the franchise based on a treatment he made in 1994. Called Predators, it will detail a group of dangerous humans who have been kidnapped and taken to the Predator homeworld. There, they are hunted by the Predator race with absolutely no chance of survival.

This will be a reboot to the franchise, as Rogriguez is treating the miniseries as a sequel to the first film. This should bring back the fans who have been disappointed by the franchise’s dimishing returns.

Late last year, Dark Horse returned to the Predator franchise with a four issue miniseries. Now, they are presenting us with a four-issue, weekly miniseries that will act as a prequel to the new film and will set up the new reality portrayed within.

If you are like me, you are excited by the prospect of the Predator film franchise’s return to greatness. If you are excited, too, then this series might be one you’d want to pick up.

Also out this week:

Hack/Slash: My First Maniac #1:

Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash was one of the biggest books to be published by Devil’s Due. But financial difficulties at the company forced Seeley to make a break from the only home his series ever knew. Such upheaval could lead to much uncertainty, turmoil, and possibly do damage to a book. But things are looking good for Seeley’s serial-killer-hunting heroine as she has landed safely at Image Comics.

The first miniseries at the new location promises to reward Hack/Slash fans who followed Cassie Hack to her new home.  The story will focus on a landmark heretofore untold event in the character’s history—her first case. We will get to see how she adjusted to killing her serial killer mother and what steps she took to become the force she is today. It’s a must have for Cassie’s fans and a perfect jumping on point for the numerous new readers that Image will expose the title to.

Tim Seeley (W), Daniel Leister (A), Image Comics, $3.50. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Dream Logic  #1:

Art books are always interesting to me. You get to look inside the creative processes of the artist, see where he starts, how he develops and how he reaches the finished project. It gives you a greater appreciation of the artist and his work.

David Mack is one of the most inventive artists to spring up in the last 20 years. His use of collage and watercolors have set him apart from the field and made him stand out. If there was ever a need for an art book to describe an artist’s creative process, David Mack needs one.  

This is that art book. It will feature new paintings, sketches, and a brand new story. If that wasn’t enough, Mack will walk you step-by-step through his process. If you are a Mack fan, this is a must have for you.

David Mack (W/A), Marvel/Icon Comics, $5.99. One-Shot.

Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #1:

The odds are likelier that I will be hired as CEO of both DC and Marvel at the same time than Alan Moore ever working on his America’s Best Comics’ creations ever again. His acrimonious split with Wildstorm parent DC has left a major grudge, and Alan Moore holds his grudges forever.

However, not all of Moore’s co-creators on the ABC characters have such a bad working relationship with DC. Take Chris Sprouse. Sprouse co-created Tom Strong with Moore and returns to the character this week. He is pairing with the writer who took over for Moore, Peter Hogan, on a tale where reality as Strong knows it has changed and he now lives in a Nazi dominated world. Strong must come up with a remedy to the situation so his daughter can get married.

Peter Hogan (W), Chris Sprouse (A), DC/ Wildstorm Comics, $3.99. Six-Issue Miniseries.

Ashley Wood’s F.I.! #1:

Australian artist Ashley Wood has carved a rich and diverse career for himself. His art has graced the pages of Image Comics, IDW, and the world of video games. He has won awards and earned the respect of his colleagues. So, if anyone one would be able to give aspiring artists advice, it would be Wood. 

This book offers up advice to young artists in the form of his own philosophy, a philosophy whose initials appear in the title. You’ll have to guess at what the “F.I." stands for since this is a family website, but the meaning is to just relax and let your creative juices flow. This magazine is a celebration of that philosophy and how Wood’s work exemplifies it.

Various (W), Ashley Wood (A), IDW Publishing, $3.99. One-Shot.

Fame #1: Lady Gaga:

Bluewater’s line of biography comics should be a bottomless well of cash for the company. Their comics retelling the life stories of famous women and politicians should be cheap to make. After all, the writing consists of making a script out of interviews and news articles on the subject and the art is aided by copious amounts of images circulating for public consumption.

So, it really is a no brainer that their biography line is going to be expanded to cover all celebrities. First up is that fountain of controversy, Lady Gaga. The singer/songwriter has one of the most interesting back stories in entertainment, and should provide for an interesting read. But if the pop diva is not your speed, be patient. The next two issues feature bios of Twilight cast members. That should sell like hotcakes.

Dan Rafter (W), Kristoffer Smith (A), Bluewater Productions, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Red Sonja #50:

Turning 50 is a stressful event in a woman’s life, and Red Sonja almost didn’t make it. Not because of her role as a savage barbarian queen in a savage land, but rather because her series was rebooted as Queen Sonja before it could reach #50. Fans were looking forward to the anniversary issue, and Dynamite isn’t one to disappoint its fans.

Red Sonja will get its 50th issue, and it will be a 100 page extravaganza. It will feature four covers, a host of big name creators, reprints of classic Red Sonja tales, and will come out as part of a month long celebration which will feature a collection of Red Sonja covers, a “re-sized” statue, and a new series remastering old Red Sonja stories into vibrant color. If turning 50 always came with this kind of celebration, you’d have less people ruing the day that birthday arrived!

Various (W), Various (A), Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99. One-Shot.

Stardrop:

Princess Ashelle thought that coming to Earth would solve all her problems. She ran away from a home planet full of civil unrest and a father who was too domineering and controlling. But the small-town life she finds herself in on Earth provides a new set of different challenges. It is hard to fit in when you were born here. But when you are unaccustomed to the fashion, culture and customs of your new home, fitting in is even harder. Of course, she might not have to worry about that for long, because her father is coming for her—and he won’t take no for an answer.

Fans of Thieves & Kings, and there are many, know Mark Oakley can write exciting and vivid fantasy. Now, he’s trying on science fiction for size. You have to imagine that he will have the same success with this concept as he did with Thieves & Kings.

Mark Oakley (W/A), I Box Publishing, $9.95. Original Graphic Novel.

X-Men Forever 2 #1:

The idea of Chris Claremont returning to the X-men franchise to pick up where he left off in the 1990s must have seemed like a great idea at the time. But the results, at least financially, are not living up to expectations. The last two issues (the series is a bi-weekly) didn’t break the Diamond 100 and sales have been slipping from the onset.

But Marvel isn’t ready to give up the ghost. Claremont’s alternate path for the classic characters is getting a fresh reboot. It will restart with a new number one, a new team, and a new storyline. Will this second chance be enough to give the concept a boost it needs? Or will this be the last chance and take the entire concept down? The months ahead will tell the story.

Chris Claremont (W), Tom Grummett (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Neil Young’s Greendale:

Neil Young is an unabashed rock legend whose name was built on being an excellent storyteller. Throughout his whole career, Young excelled at writing songs that gave us insight into people’s lives, historical events, or human emotions.

In 2003, Young gave us the album called Greendale. It was a “rock opera” in which every song on the album joined together to tell one cohesive story of the fictional town of Greendale, California. It dealt with themes of environmentalism, politics, mysticism, corruption, and family dynasty. Themes found in many of Vertigo’s offerings, which makes Vertigo the perfect choice to adapt the album into comic book form.

That album is being adapted as a 160 page graphic novel by veteran creators Joshua Dysart and Cliff Chiang. If this entry is a success, could this be the start of more comic book adaptations of classic rock operas?

Joshua Dysart (W), Cliff Chiang (A), D/Vertigo Comics, $19.99. Graphic Novel.

Buzzard #1:

One of the most interesting and tragic characters in the Goon mythos is The Buzzard. He was a sheriff who failed to protect his town from the machinations of the Zombie Priest and a quest for vengeance left him cursed with immortality and the hunger for dead flesh. He has become a valiant ally of the Goon has aided the latter against many a foe.

But supporting characters as good as the Buzzard do not simply stay supporting characters for long. The reverse-zombie sheriff is getting his own miniseries as his travels bring him to a village plagued by a race of bestial creatures. The Buzzard might be the town’s only hope, but this is a challenge greater than the shamed lawman has ever faced.

Eric Powell (W), Powell & Kyle Hotz (A), Dark Horse Comics, $3.50. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Meta 4 #1:

To say that Ted McKeever has a unique perspective is the understatement of the century. He has been pushing the boundaries of the comic medium for over 20 years and has numerous Eisner Award nominations to show for it. His Eddie Current series is mentioned in the same breath as Watchmen, Love and Rockets, and Maus as one of the best series of the 1980s.

Lucky for us, he is still active and giving us wild stories to enjoy. His latest focuses on an amnesiac astronaut who is aided on his search for his true identity by a female body builder who dresses like Santa. He will journey to find out who he was, but in the process, he will find out who he is. 

Ted McKeever (W/A), Image Comics, $3.50. Five-Issue Miniseries.

Rawhide Kid #1:

The 2003 MAX revamp of the Rawhide Kid angered a lot of comic book fans. These fans, who I’d wager never picked up a Rawhide Kid comic in their life, were irritated by Ron Zimmerman’s tongue-in-cheek revamp of the character that made him into a campy, comedic homosexual. The revamp was lucky enough to take place during a relatively slow period in the national news, so the controversy spilled over to the real world and resulted in Stan Lee having a debate on CNN with leaders of the moral right who were outraged that kids could read about a gay cowboy.

The controversy eventually died out and now seems like a distant memory. What better time for Zimmerman to bring the gayest gun in the west back into comic book stores. But the Rawhide Kid isn’t the only Marvel western star Zimmerman will be handling this time around. He’s bringing along the Two-Gun Kid, Red Wolf, and Kid Colt as well. Great, more characters for fans to bemoan Zimmerman’s treatment of.

Ron Zimmerman (W), Howard Chaykin (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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