Review: Aliens: Life and Death #1

Today I’m taking a look at Dark Horse Comics’ Aliens: Life and Death #1, which is the next in the series of "Life and Death" miniseries written by one of my favorite current writers, Dan Abnett and drawn by Moritat. I’ve only read the Predator book prior to this one, and that was alright, so I decided to have a crack at this one. aliens-life-and-death-1The issue kicks off with Colonial Marines in the middle of a dogfight with some Xenomorphs who have attacked them (or maybe the marines attack them, but I doubt it.) It’s all action from the get go. Pretty much every page is an alien being shot in the fucking face and people being snatched up by aliens from time to time. Plus a little bit of talking about who’s missing and some feels thrown in because one woman on the team is married to another woman who has been snatched by the aliens… I think Prometheus makes an appearance, too (if that was Prometheus.)

As far the writing goes, Dan Abnett doesn’t really bring anything spectacular to this first issue. It’s pretty run-of-the-mill stuff, which is forgivable as there’s not a lot you can do with these aliens - the stories in all of these Aliens books follow a pretty basic formula. All you have to do for an Aliens book is show the aliens killing people off one by one, then have the remaining humans plot how they’ll kill the aliens or escape from them and then have the humans kill the aliens or escape the aliens somehow… It’s a series you can "churn out and fuck off early" on. Great books if you like Aliens a lot, not so much if you’re looking for something different. I’m not going after Abnett here; he’s just doing his job, and I know he’s a great writer.

For Moritat’s art in this issue, I’m not a big fan of how he draws the aliens. They’re all shaky and fucked up. His humans look fine, but I’m not reading the book to see humans. The opening page is horrendous. It’s a splash page of badly drawn aliens running towards the marines (who’re off panel.) For some reason, it looks to me like the aliens' arms are fucked, it’s like he forgot to draw the forearms or something and just elongated the hands. These arm-hands look like tree trunks… So, yeah, the aliens aren’t great. Humans are okay.

Overall, not a great issue but if you’ve come this far in the "Life and Death" series, you’ll probably want to finish reading it. You’re nearly at the end of it all. If you’re thinking about coming into the series late, I wouldn’t choose to pick this issue up first. Try the Predator: Life and Death mini and go from there.  Obviously, if you’re a die-hard Aliens fan you won’t give a shit what I say, and you’ll buy it anyway. And that’s what makes these licensed books work and that’s why they’ll keep printing ‘em.

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Aliens: Life and Death #1 Writer: Dan Abnett Artist: Moritat Colorist: Rain Beredo Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-series; Print/Digital


Review: Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #2

It is very easy to follow the easy path when doing a crossover of franchises like these three. The fact is, one of the publishers of this book manages to do it at least a couple of times a year. It is why people hate crossovers. I will admit that I had that fear for this issue. I wondered if I had praised the first issue too much and would instantly eat my words. How could Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens not fall into the trap of “okay everyone fight, but not really because we need to protect each brand”? John Layman, that is how.

Layman understands a few important things about this particular crossover, but then extremely important rules for any crossover. Layman protects each brand, but Layman knows that he has two disposable sides of it. No one is expecting the exact Predator or Alien to show up in something else which gives him a lot of leeways. The other important thing that he nails in this issue provides us with a bad guy. Not just any bad guy, however. Layman has created one and found a way to give him a superficial history with Dredd, but then managed to make him a threat to all parties. Now, he is not a threat to the Xenomorphs, but he is the force that can release them and thus destroys humankind.

Predator Judge Aliens 2It was incredibly refreshing to have a fucking villain in a crossover that felt like a real threat and not just another franchise character that no harm can come to. Other significant elements of this particular issue include the Predators tracking Dredd’s assault in the jungle which was a clever way of showing both parties arrival, but in a way that wasn’t annoying or clogged up a bunch of pages. The other was doing a call back to Judge Dredd vs. Aliens: Incubus which added more history to the story. Suddenly it did not even feel like a crossover, but more like canon.

I am going to spoil something with the art for you because it will tell you everything you need to know about Chris Mooneyham’s art on the book. Mooneyham illustrates a Predator/Alien hybrid that is actually really fucking cool looking. Not only that, but there’s a Judge/Alien hybrid as well created by the villain of the story. It too is fucking cool. The only thing else I will add is that Mooneyham’s visual storytelling is spot on and compliments Layman’s narration, particularly during the opening with the Predator’s figuring out the Judge’s battle with the Ani-mans.

I knew that I was going to read this issue no matter what, but I did not think there would be anything worth saying on another review. Thankfully the creative team surprised me. This crossover is a throwback to the early days of franchise crossovers in which they were cool and enjoyable. Thank god someone figured it out.

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Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #2 Writer: John Layman Artist: Chris Mooneyham Publisher: Dark Horse Comics/IDW Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital


Review: Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #1

I’m going to be extremely direct with this review. This is everything you’d want from a major crossover like this. Okay done. [su_quote]Synopsis: A predator gets killed by some The Island of Dr. Moreau dudes that live in the forest outside of Mega City One. The anthropomorphic dudes take a look inside the predator’s ship and wouldn’t you know it, their mad scientist leader thinks that Xenomorphs are pretty cool! But where does Judge Dredd fit in? He’s looking for some crazy cultists and tracks down their leader to the animal forest![/su_quote]

predator-vs-judge-dredd-vs-aliens-1Granted there’s more than that going on in the story, but really John Layman takes this ridiculously awesome idea and makes it great. This really is the things that comic book dreams are made of. It’s where all these franchises can come together and play and be merry and no one worries that their brand will look weak or any of that crap. It’s just a good ole crossover. It’s throwback, but modern. He just fucking nails it.

The art from Chris Mooneyham is solid. I’m not a big fan of his Predators or the animal people, but the design and atmosphere that he creates plays an important role to the story. If I were more in love with the aforementioned designs then I would really be crapping my pants for this book, but instead it’s just really solid art that captures the essences of the three properties.

This is one of those books in which you know if you’re going to read it or not. If you’re against purchasing licensed crossovers then this isn’t even on your radar, which is a shame because it’s actually one of the best licensed books being published, even if it is just a mini-series. If you’re planning on getting it then you won’t be disappointed and if you never were going to get it then keep on, keep it on.

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Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens #1
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Chris Mooneyham
Publisher: Dark Horse/IDW/2000 AD
Price: $3.99
Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital