• Aliens Vs. Predator – Fire And Stone (Trade Paperback)

    Aliens Vs. Predator – Fire And Stone (Trade Paperback)
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: June 10th, 2015.
    Written by: Christopher Sebela
    Illustrated by: Ariel Olivetti
    Purchase From Amazon

    This latest entry in the Dark Horse Aliens Vs. Predator crossover series, like Aliens: Fire And Stone #1 and Prometheus: Fire And Stone #1 begins with a text piece to bring us up to speed. “Dozens of light years from Earth, in the outer rings of the Zeta 2 Reticuli system, the fractured Geryon armada limps away from the horrific events on the mysterious LV-223—resting place of the ruined Prometheus, and home to a vicious xenomorph horde. Meanwhile, in a neighboring star system, a brutal race of alien hunters participates in an ancient and primal tradition—but their endless search for new and deadlier prey could result in chaos beyond measure . . .” We’re also told that “This story takes place between the events of Prometheus: Fire and Stone #4 and Predator: Fire and Stone #1.” This might get complicated.

    When the issue proper begins, a quintet of Predators is doing battle with a massive horned beast. Victorious, they return to their ship with their trophies and leave the planet. Meanwhile, an armada of ships from the Zeta 2 Reticuli system travel through deep space. Three men, before they go into a cryogenic state, discuss what they’ll be returning with – the crown jewel being a piece of alien technology they captured but which they don’t fully understand. They know what happened to LV-223 and are prepared to tell the truth upon their return… once they decide what the truth is. Two of the men go into cryo while Galgo talks to a scientist named Francis that he’s been holding captive, but just what he ‘unleashed’ to cause this isn’t exactly clear yet.

    A humanoid male called Elden, who Francis has somehow ‘given life’ to, shows up, slows the ship’s speed, and mentions he’s brought along some friends in the form of Alien hunters. Elden tells Galgo he wants Francis and to save his men and his ship, he obliges. Just as Galgo is about to deliver Francis to Elden, however, some Predators show up on the ship. It all hits the fan from there – a strange plant starts growing, Elden unleashes the Aliens, the Predators start hunting and then Elden turns off the lights. The connection between Elden and Francis is elaborated on and a lot of people die.

    Elden is shot by the Predator but despite the massive hole in his chest, seems to be unharmed. Elden and the aliens battle the Predator while Francis tries to escape but Elden warns him not to, mutating even while in the midst of combat. Francis flees anyway as Elden kills his opponent. Francis explores the ship and realizes that it is the accelerant that has turned Elden into ‘a walking Genesis’ while a second Predator shows up to honor Elden with the trophies their customs dictate his victory entitles him to. What neither of them considers is what would happen if some of the accelerant came into contact with that second Predator.

    The aliens and Predators are at war while Elden’s continues to change thanks to his exposure to the black goop everyone seems to be referring to as an accelerant. Elden infects a Predator and this result in the creation of a new Predator, one that shows no mercy to anything that gets in its way. As all of this is going on, Francis, the scientist whose days are numbered thanks to his illness, tries to figure out how the accelerant can cure him.

    When Francis sees that Elden is the key, a Predator takes care of that and now Elden finds himself on the run the aliens running amok. Francis and the Predator throw down in an unusual way while Elden takes care of the aliens, no longer a threat to him since he’s evolved. Francis makes it to the infirmary and attempts not only to heal himself but also to talk to Elden, while the mutated Predator prepares for war. Elden’s battle with the aliens is interrupted to his advantage by the arrival of that Predator and after their collective victory, Elden heads to the infirmary to take care of Francis. The human Francis, with some aid from the worker droids in site, incapacitates Elden and takes a sample of his blood figuring that whatever mutated him will cure him from his terminal condition. Elden knows what will happen and tries to talk him out of it but he’s not having any of it, even if Elden, in this case, is absolutely right.

    The non-mutated Predator and Elden do battle and just as it looks like Elden is done for, the aliens move in. He has a connection with them. Meanwhile Francis coils in pain but then begins to change himself. The disease has taken over to the point where he is cured and strong, but no longer himself. The mutated Predator follows him and you just know they’re going to come to blows. They do, but it’s not how you’d expect.

    Those aliens though, they make it past the Predator and back towards Elden – maybe they’re not his obedient servants after all, these perfect killing machines. He’ll learn this the hard way and ‘connect’ wit the Predator – or maybe not, as there are things that can happen in space, things that can’t happen in a gravitational environment. Elden and Francis though? They’ve got unfinished business, and given that this is the last issue and all, well, they’re going to want to finish that. Right? Right. But first they’re going to have to take care of that incredibly powerful mutated Predator that has been causing so many problems for them in this four issue run.

    Wow. This one ends on a seriously highbrow note that you probably won’t see coming. It’s quite philosophical the way that it comes to a finish, and even a little bit tragic but never to the point where it feels hammy or overdone. The ramifications of the other series in the Fire And Stone run that Dark Horse has been publishing over the last few months are starting to run deep and everything is tying together quite well at this point. The AVP run, that started off feeling a bit superficial and a bit too style over substance winds up being one of the best of the four mini-series really in large part to how writer Sebela finishes up his story. Poignant. That’s the right word to describe it. Yes, we’re dealing with monsters in a sci-fi/horror environment, you know that and you WANT that, but there’s still room to bring some depth and humanity to the story and Sebela does that very, very well.

    Ariel Olivetti’s artwork was gorgeous from the first issue and it stayed that way throughout. He’s got a great sense of how to lay out a panel and in this issue specifically really lets the ol’ imagination run wild in terms of the monster mash action that plays out. The fully mutated version of Francis has a sort of Richard Corben feel to it that’s nice to see but his style is very definitely his own. E. M. Gist once again contributes a slick painted cover. All in all, this is a very strong finish to the four issue run. One that, as a good finale should, leaves us wanting more.