• Predator: Fire And Stone (Trade Paperback)

    Predator: Fire And Stone (Trade Paperback)
    Published by: Dark Horse Comics
    Published on: July 15h, 2015.
    Written by: Joshua Williamson
    Art by: Christopher Mooneyham
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    Like all of the Fire And Stone books so far, Predator: Fire And Stone #1 opens with a text intro that sets things up. “When Captain Angela Foster uses the pretense of a routine salvage mission to lead her crew to the mysterious moon of LV-223, she actually hopes to learn the fate of Sir Peter Weyland and his lost Prometheus mission. What she uncovers instead is a terror beyond imagination. In the wake of Angela’s deception, security officer Galgo Helder abandons LV-223, making a limping escape with the Geryon armada and a scavenged alien weapon. But soon a new threat presents itself, as a brutal conflict erupts between a mutated crewmate’s xenomorph horde and a pack of ruthless alien hunters. Now, having fled the violence of the Geryon, the patrol ship Perses and her battered crew face a long journey home. But as Galgo prepares his beloved vessel for her voyage, an invisible stowaway makes ready for more bloodshed…” The intro also says that “This series takes place after the events of Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1– #4 and Predator: Fire and Stone #1.” That makes things a little tricky, continuity wise, but let’s see how it goes.

    On the opening page a man named Higgins is being woken out of a cryo unit, slapped out of his sleep by a man named Galgo who tells him that Piper is already up and moving. We learn that Eldon came after Francis, and that since they’ve split from the Helios but that the computers are saying that there is a stowaway of some sort onboard the ship. They need to figure out what this is and take care of it without using firearms as they don’t want to blow a hole in the ship. Galgo is holding onto the alien rifle – he says he won’t use it but it’s not leaving his side, calling it a meal ticket. They split up to try and flank the stowaway, but as you’d probably have guessed, it’s a Predator and not going to go without a fight.

    Piper sees it and attacks it but gets injured. Galgo and Higgins run to help him but it’s too late, a shoulder cannon takes Piper’s head off. Higgins knows that Galgo knows more about this than he’s letting on and pressures him to talk. As the two survivors stroll the ship looking for the Predator, he explains that this has something to do with what was on the moon but then coyly looks Higgins in the cargo bay that the Predator is in, with a giant security door in between the two men assuring Galgo’s safety. Galgo empties the contents of the bay into space and figures he’s safe and alone. He’s wrong.

    This first issue is basically a ‘something’s on the ship, gotta go get it’ story for the bulk of its pages but there are hints here about how this will tie in with the other Fire and Stone stories that could lead to interesting things. By the time the last page is turned, those hints are confirmed as fact and the stage is set for an interesting story to be told. Where it will go from here obviously remains to be seen and how the Predator will fit into the Alien/Prometheus back story is a mystery at this point but there’s certainly potential here for this to be a pretty interesting mini-series. Williamson’s script movies quickly and doesn’t give us a whole lot of character development yet as this is a more action-intensive introductory entry in the series but it stands to reason that we’ll get there. If nothing else we’re going to find out more about Galgo.

    As to the art from Christopher Mooneyham, it’s good stuff and at times a bit reminiscent of Walter Simonson (who, fans may remember, did the very first Alien comic in graphic novel format for Heavy Metal way back in 1979). That’s a good thing. The line work here is thinner and more reliant on strong pencils than on thick, heavy inks but it works quite well. The Predator is drawn with nice attention to detail and the coloring is effective. The nice painted cover art by Lucas Graciano is worth calling out too.

    The second installment of the four issue Predator: Fire And Stone series opens with a sequence wherein a group of alien hunters patrol UE-753 in the year 2107. A panel showing some all too familiar heat vision technology spying on them leads into a violent battle wherein a young Predator is defeated by his opponent and left for dead in a cave. Bad move. You don’t turn your back on a Predator.

    Cut to 2219 where we see Galgo, the only survivor of the first issue, strung up by his alien opponent. The Predator wants him to fly the ship back to LV-223 so that he can ‘hunt those big blue aliens you’ve got such a hard-on for’ but Galgo’s not having any of it. The Predator has ways of convincing him, however, and Galgo figures alright, I’ll just drop the ugly brute off on the planet and be on my way. They land, and the Predator insists he accompany him off of the ship, and without any sort of real choice, he does just that. The Predator takes him to a mass grave, a pile of Alien corpses a mile high, but when Galgo sees a certain accelerant and the Predator goes to investigate it, he warns him not to. Galgo knows something bigger than a Predator made that pile of bodies and he doesn’t want to stick around to see what that thing is. Predators love a good challenge though, they live for the thrill of the hunt, so Galgo might not have a say in the matter.

    This builds nicely off of the ending of the first issue, taking a more action intensive approach to the story. It’s a quick read, mostly a big fight scene that leads into a bit of back and forth between Galgo and the Predator, but it sets up more to come. As far as second issues go, this accomplishes what it should in that it expands on what came before and then hooks us in for what’s to come. There isn’t a ton of exposition here, but without going into detail regarding the cliffhanger ending, there’s going to be some coming soon as it seems that out hero’s past has come back to haunt him.

    Williamson scripts the tough guy storyline well. Obviously we have no idea what the Predator says but Galgo talks the talk, he’s an interesting enough character that we’re curious to see where this goes. The artwork by Christopher Mooneyham is strong, bringing to mind Walter Simonson and Howard Chaykin as influences but definitely going out on his own enough so that it never feels derivative. It’s a sketchy sort of style but there’s still a good amount of detail here to appreciate. Dan Brown’s coloring compliments the artwork really well while Lucas Graciano’s cover sets just the right sort of mood to get you to pick this one up off of the shelf.

    Galgo is racing against time – the ship’s core is melting and Angela needs him to get back in sixty seconds or they’re taking off without him. He’s looking for money though, he doesn’t want to go back to Earth empty handed. He blasts open the door and finds not cash but a few more survivors, hiding out and in need of help. He rushes back with them to the ship and Angela gets if out of there just in time.

    Cut to the present and Galgo has been leashed to the Predator. Angela sticks around to help him and sends the rest of her crew away for their own safety but she hasn’t forgotten her past with Galgo. They walk back to the camp with the Predator in tow and he explains things to her. She wants him to fly everyone off of the planet, but he won’t… the Predator won’t let him. Angela allows them to spend the night in the cave they’ve set up in, but only for the night. She makes it clear that it he’s not going to fly them off the planet, that in the morning he’s gone. So Galgo and the Predator set up a camp fire and the next morning, they’re off, sans Angela or anyone from her crew, to find a certain engineer.

    This issue is, in a sense, the calm before the story. At the same time, it’s pretty action packed. The flashback scene elaborates on the past that exists between Galgo and Angela which then quite logically ties into their collective present but it plays out with excitement and tensions. Once we get into the present, the presence of the Predator ensures that there will at least be some hunting and after a few dialogue heavy pages that again expand on character relationships, we get to it in a big way. Understandably, with next month’s fourth issue being the final chapter, we end this one on a big cliffhanger – we know that the Predator, and Galgo, are going to find the Engineer, it’s what will happen next that keeps us wanting more. So full marks for Joshua Williamson’s writing. It might be more action intensive than the other Fire And Stone runs, with less emphasis on horror, but that makes sense. This is a Predator story, after all.

    Christopher Mooneyham’s artwork continues to impress. Again, there’s a Walter Simonson influence evident here, but that’s a good thing. There are also times where you can kind of see some Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz in this style too, but he doesn’t ape these guys – his work is definitely his own. There are some really nice panel layouts here too, the compositions are interesting and unique and the art fits the story very nicely. Throw in a great painted cover by Lucas Graciano and this issue scores high marks all the way around.

    The Predator and the Engineer go head to head and things look bad for the hunter – Galgo reminds him “You want my help, you let me off the hook” and so he does. No freed from the energy bond that the Predator had used to leash him, Galgo turns tails and runs, leaving the Predator to face the Engineer alone. The two keep fighting and Galgo makes it into the jungle away from the chaos, but then he has a change of heart. He’s been running his whole life, maybe now it’s time to change that and do something right for once… he’ll make it to the Predator in time and after that take care of business, maybe, just maybe, he’ll reunite with someone from his past.

    Williamson brings this four part tale to a pretty satisfying conclusion that resolves just enough to satisfy while leaving things open ended enough that it could very well lead into the events yet to take place (in the upcoming Prometheus: Fire And Stone Omega series out from Dark Horse next month). The emphasis here is on action more than anything else but that’s appropriate enough for a Predator story. There’s enough character development on the last few pages to work and things move at a good pace here. You can kind of see the ‘twist’ (Galgo fleeing and then changing his mind) coming, but it’s in keeping with what was established earlier in the series so it never feels like a cop out. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of this guy in the future.

    Christopher Mooneyham’s artwork retains the nice, gritty style that has been employed over the three issues that came before this one. The Klaus Janson/Walt Simonson influence is still there but that’s not a bad thing at all. Inks from John Lucas compliment the pencils nicely, helping to create some nice, detailed line work while Dan Brown’s coloring brings the black and white action to live with appropriately bold, colorful hues. Throw in a nice painted cover courtesy of E. M. Gist and this run turns out to be another really enjoyable story in the Fire and Stone run.

    This TPB version, which includes all four issues in the mini-series, also features a few pages of sketchbook material from Patric Reynolds and Christopher Mooneyham. These two pages offer a quick glimpse into the creative process behind the series. It’s a little thing, but it’s a nice touch.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      I dig Mooneyham's art and I see Joe Kubert in there big time. His work on Five Ghosts made me a fan. but good call on Klaus Jensen...totally see it.