Overview

Predators #1

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Predators #1

Credits

  • Words: Marc Andreyko; David Lapham
  • Art: Guillermo Balbi; Gabriel Guzman
  • Inks: José Verissimo; Mariano Taibo
  • Colors: Garry Henderson; Michael Atiyeh
  • Story Title: Welcome to the Jungle; A Predatory Life
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jun 9, 2010

Created as a prequel to this summer’s blockbuster movie, Predators #1 presents a pair of stories featuring two of the film’s central protagonists. Chronicling the events leading up to the movie, each tale is designed to fill in the backstory of both characters, while preserving an envelope of suspense around the central premise of this latest installment of the popular sci-fi franchise.

It’s a more daunting task than it appears. Primed for a reinvigorating re-launch this summer thanks to the creative touch of Robert Rodriguez, the Predator franchise has in recent years been tied to the immensely popular Aliens property. Despite some initial skepticism, it was a successful move, bringing the studios a sizeable return on their investment and engaging fans of both franchises.

In fact, the partnership has proved so successful and the fictional histories so intrinsically intertwined, some wondered if the shared universes would ever be developed separately again. AvP has evolved into a franchise unto itself, spawning countless comics, video games, and novels. Considering studios’ and publishers’ tendency of simply giving people more of what they want, in the form of innumerable (and often insufferable) sequels, prequels, and tie-ins, it’s somewhat surprising they haven’t tried to tie Aliens into this latest Predator offering.

Having said that, perhaps just the opposite is true. Maybe the financial success of AvP spurred studios to take another look at the flagging Predator property. Whatever the case, Predators #1 attempts to supplement the core universe with new perspectives, while generating positive buzz for the movie.

The first story by Marc Andreyko and Guillermo Balbi sets up the film’s main premise, as an elite military unit suddenly finds itself in an unknown jungle, after an unfortunate encounter with a suicide bomber. Presumably hundreds if not thousands of miles away from their original location, the unit’s numbers decrease swiftly over the course of a couple of days, as a mysterious hunter systematically picks it apart.

Andreyko’s plot is crisp and fast-paced, without sacrificing too much in the way of characterization. Even though these characters were created to die horribly, Andreyko manages to infuse each of them with enough personality to lend their deaths a little weight. Balbi’s artwork is appropriately gritty and down-to-earth but his close-ups become a little muddy, the expressiveness and detail exhibited in longer shots lost in awkward camera angles and sloppy shading. Overall, “Welcome to the Jungle” is a good story that does its job by giving the audience a taste of what it can expect later this summer.

The second story is more of a character study, exploring the history and motivations of the movie’s main protagonist, Royce. In “A Predatory Life,” David Lapham’s approach is much quieter as he focuses his efforts more on the nuances of character and setting, than on blockbuster action. Lapham makes wonderful use of his anonymous African setting, allowing it to draw out Royce’s conflicted personality and worldview. Again, the art is only serviceable but Guzman and Taibo remain workmanlike and consistent throughout the story, managing some great exterior establishing shots along the way.

As a movie tie-in and prequel, Predators #1 has two main objectives, which often find themselves at odds with one another in any potentially lucrative creative endeavor: Creating positive buzz by giving the audience a glimpse of what they can expect in the theaters, while offering an exciting story that lives up to its own hype.

Writers Andreyko and Lapham present two different yet important perspectives leading up to the movie, although their artistic collaborators fail to truly push the stories over the top. Each tale may increase the audience’s knowledge of the core universe but a reliance on journeyman artists dilutes its impact.

At the end of the day, thanks to this lack of visual opera, Predators #1 doesn’t generate hype so much as it floats quietly under the radar.

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