A few weeks ago, Dark Horse Comics sent out their digital review copies for their upcoming comic-books. Alien vs. Predator was one of the books included and, as always, I was the first to call dibs on it. But sometime later I realized that I never bothered to read the final issue of the AVP chapter of Fire and Stone. Was it just me procrastinating? Did I suddenly lose interest in a series I was enjoying significantly more than any other comics I had been reading? Did somewhere between issue 1 and 4, writer Christopher Sebela and artist Ariel Olivetti drop the ball? The reason for me not reading was actually none of the possibilities I just brought up. I love print just as much as I love vinyl (and cd’s). I’ve never been too fond of the digital format, and while I understand its necessity (and cost effectiveness when sending out copies to the various press sites that will either laud or damn the hard work of writers and artists) I prefer to cherish a comic book in my hands. I love turning the page and closely examining the art by pulling the book closer to my eyes. It’s such a pure format and the final issue of Aliens vs. Predator deserved better than a review off of a digital copy. Even if it meant that by the time I wrote something up, 20,000 people will have already tweeted Christopher Sebela over a magnificent run.
In the beginning, there was Prometheus and Aliens. I was almost certain that I was going to love Prometheus, enjoy Aliens, and follow Aliens vs. Predator, and Predator just to understand the whole story. Oh, how I was wrong! The gods at Dark Horse Comics (or engineers as we refer to them in the world of Fire and Stone) work in mysterious ways and I ended up loving Sebela and Olivetti’s work on Aliens vs. Predator. Their collaboration on the Fire and Stone mini-series produced some of the finest art and characters in not just the comic-book medium, but in the medium of art itself! Never was the more pathos and heart in a story filled with monsters and never was art more clearly cinematic and lush. Four issues were not enough and Sebela and Olivetti would definitely not be able to wrap up all the plot lines they had started. Right? Right? It’s not to speak of their abilities, but they created a story within issue 1 that was deserving of a full, monthly run and it just wouldn’t be possible to conclude everything without it feeling rushed. I could not have been more wrong and within issue 4 is a masterful story that Sebela and Olivetti truly engineered just as the Michalangelo’s David meets albino bodybuilder alien race engineered a destructive black goo accelerant which would ultimately give us the terrifying xenomorphs.
Issue 4 begins with Elden defending himself from the Predator. Elden has mutated fully into a creature unlike anything we’ve seen in the Aliens/Predator/Prometheus series with abilities reminiscent of The Thing (John Carpenter’s, not Marvel’s.) He is albino like the Engineers, has a cranium similar to the xenomorphs, and exposed muscle tissue running through his four armed body. Sebela has created an entertaining synthetic organism with ties closely to that of Frankenstein’s monster. But what Olivetti has done is illustrate a mutant that is so beuatifully interesting to look at that a fan could only hope he is given his day (be it in an upcoming film or action figure as sculpted and produced by NECA.) While Elden’s trust was betrayed by the terminally ill Francis Lane, and his lust for vengeance has fueled the stories of Alien vs. Predator, he now suddenly finds himself defending his once friend from Predators, Xenomorphs, and a “bestial mutant behemoth” predator. As Elden contends with a Predator that seemingly can’t hurt him; Francis Lane (now mutated into a creature not far different than 2008’s The Incredible Hulk villain, The Abomination) finally understands the pain that be put Elden through, as he has used the accelerant on himself. He ruminates over “being connected to everything” as he fights off the mutated predator. The pacing of the issue is on point and creates an interesting dynamic between the two lead characters. The monster mash of a story is now oddly, and alternatively, a buddy story.
Christopher Sebela and Ariel Olivetti give fans a book worth their $3.50. Their story takes us to places that so very few “mainstream” comic books dare to take us. Dark Horse Comics “Aliens vs. Predator” doesn’t come off as a big, sprawling epic that is too far disconnected from the themes it delves into. Instead, Sebela and Olivetti deliver a smaller story set in that “big, sprawling epic.” What we get is a final issue that makes us think more about what it means to be human and a close to a series that should be read by comic fans and those looking for an engaging story.
“Aliens vs. Predator: Fire and Stone” issue 4 gets five out of five stars.
Catch the rest of the preview at darkhorse.com.
Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #4
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Cover Artist: E. M. Gist
Genre: Science-Fiction, Horror, Action/Adventure
Features: Desktop Wallpaper
Publication Date: January 14, 2015
Format: FC, 32 pages; Miniseries
UPC: 7 61568 92137 3 00411