Christopher Sebela and Ariel Olivetti have created another engaging entry in DHC’s “Fire and Stone” saga. It’s more than just a comic book. It’s a movie. It’s grand entertainment set in the universe of one of Hollywood’s grand science-fiction series. In previous reviews I’ve mentioned how surprised I was with “Alien vs. Predator.” While I expected a fun story, I thought “Prometheus” would quite possibly be the premiere title to look forward too. While that did get the universe spanning story off to a great start (and introduced us to the characters of Elden and Francis Lane), it took a slower pace than I had hoped for. Understandably, “Prometheus: Fire and Stone” takes place in a Tarantino-esque time frame with the task of setting up the mysteries and worlds that are unleashed in titles such as “Predator.” Sebela and Olivetti have taken “Alien vs. Predator” to mythological heights that have surprised just about every reader of this finely written series. And this is exactly why knowing that we only have one more issue left in the “A.v.P” section of the “Fire and Stone” saga is such a harsh reality to face.
“Alien vs. Predator” opens with Elden fighting off a horde of xenomorphs. Elden, the synthetic that terminally ill Francis Lane regarded as a guinea pig is now mutating due to the black goo accelerant administered to him. When we last saw him he had fully lost all traces of his artificial humanity to him, as he is an android, and was turning into an alien hybrid of sorts. Very creepily rendered by Ariel Olivetti, his white skin and exposed muscle tissue made him look like a deformed Michaelangelo’s David. He’s a Frankenstein monster of sorts making his way through the ship to get to Lane. Elsewhere, Lane is having his own problems as he is facing off with a Predator. Sensing that the man is dying, the Predator discards Lane as someone unworthy to hunt and makes his way to the swarm of xenomorphs. Lane is then able to escape and find the remaining accelerant to use on himself. While all of this takes place, a Predator that was exposed to the acclerant has mutated into a form even more “ugly” than before thus setting up what will surely be a climactic show down in issue #4. The major emotional hook of issue 3 is when we learn of just how opportunistic and selfish Francis Lane is. We understand that he is terminally ill and desperately searching for some sort of cure, we feel sorry for him as we understand the fear that would naturally come to any human being in the same situation. But our sympathy for him starts to sour once he admits to Elden that “I’m not sorry for what I did to you. I would do it again in a heartbeat. To save my life? I wouldn’t think twice of sacrificing a dozen of you.” Even though we comprehend that he is in conflict with a synthetic, the reality of his admittance is bitingly harsh and a stab in the heart of anyone capable of emotion. In this case, the acclerant he used on Elden has turned him into something more human than android and Elden is now beginning to develop human characteristics. The creature that Elden has become still has that child-like inquisitiveness like before, with only more danger as he is a bit like that of a bullied kid that just found his father’s gun. The worlds of “Fire and Stone” are populated with not so nice people. The reflection of raw human instinct and choices that anyone could associate with is what makes this saga the definition of good science-fiction. Let’s face it, if you were dying and believed that the only was to save yourself was through an acclerant already identified with genetic, god-like properties, wouldn’t you think about using it? Wouldn’t you want to first test it on something before yourself and if that meant using it on your “friend” who happens to be a non-human and soulless man-made creation, then so be it? Christopher Sebela tackles these questions and explores an almost Philip K. Dick theme of what makes us human and at what point does man create life that God once used to. “Aliens vs. Predator” is more so a Philip K. Dick story than an Alien or Predator story. And this is a good thing!
The character of Elden has quickly become the most interesting character in the “Fire and Stone” saga and rightfully so. In many ways, he has become the character in which the mystery of black goo hinges on. Elden was introduced to us in “Prometheus” as a synthetic, devoid of any real humanity other than the artificial covering which conceals his android being. Being tricked by Lane, whom he called a friend, he went through a harrowing mutation that is still changing him. His existence is written like brilliantly orchestrated violin music. Sebela and Olivetti constructed a story that entertains and rewards the reader. Just like the mystery of the black goo, first presented in the film “Prometheus”, we are not meant to fully understand the intricacies of the story just yet. But with each issue we do get closer to seeing the writers’ collective master plan. For the time being, it’s more than just settling for a run of the mill science-fiction horror monster. Elden is more than that. In a conversation with the writer, Christopher Sebela revealed that “Elden is definitely the underdoggiest of them all.” While Prometheus writer, Paul Tobin, went on to say that “he’s a horrible creature, at times” he did add “I have a soft spot for him. Yeah, I like him.” I believe we’re meant to and with Ariel Olivetti’s dynamic approach to the art, Elden along with the rest of “Alien vs. Predator” easily becomes a book that we care about. Much like Christopher Mooneyham’s work on “Predator: Fire and Stone”, Sebela and Olivetti’s title stands out as its own. Each panel works like a film still capturing a moment of action. Olivetti perfectly stages the drama, violence, and emotion of Sebela’s plot. “Alien vs. Predator” is a fast paced read filled with pathos that insists on a return to your local comic shop the following month to find out what happens next. In this case, we only have one more issue left and its bittersweet.
“Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone” issue 3 gets five out of five stars!
Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #3
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Cover Artist: E. M. Gist
Genre: Science-Fiction, Horror, Action/Adventure
Publication Date: December 03, 2014
Format: FC, 32 pages; Miniseries
UPC: 7 61568 92137 3 00311