Written by: Chris Warner
Art by: Francisco Ruiz Velasco
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover by: Doug Wheatly
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Yesterday saw the return of Predator: Hunters, a five-issue series published by Dark Horse Comics. The comic (part of the Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator universe) is one of only a few works to serve as a direct sequel to earlier stories, as characters Enoch Nakai and Mandy Graves return from Predator: Big Game and Predator: Bad Blood respectively. Here, they make up part of a specialist assault team which, disguised as an oceanographic expedition, descend on a privately-owned island in the remote reaches of the South Pacific. Below is the official summary for issue #4:
A warm tropical night, a lush island setting, and death on all sides! The team of human hunters is looking for a single Predator when they find out the hard way that there are four of the monsters lurking about. Yet, unbelievably, that’s not the worst of their problems!
Writer Chris Warner opens the fourth instalment with a hurry of action, keeping his finger on the trigger for the first few pages. The crackly dialogue between the ship Durga and the strike team on the island flies by, but before silence can take hold, we hear the tell-tale sound of predators approaching. And once the firefight starts, it swallows the issue as much as the jungle does our characters.
Perhaps the main strength of Predator: Hunters, however, lies in the nostalgic art and robust colour scheme. While the plot seems a cut n’ paste job from the original Predator film and Peter Jackson’s King Kong, the artwork manages to act as a homage without really ever spilling over. The blue-grey wash artist Francisco Ruiz Velasco chooses for his lush tropical jungle is mirrored in the shade he gives the predators themselves. The human characters, on the other hand, are fleshed out with the pen far ore, marking the gulf between the world of predator and prey. Doug Wheatley is on covers for the series, with too-big fonts overlaying put-it-on-a-poster-images that would feel at home in an 80’s movie theatre. The covers are a fitting tribute to the Predator world, each of them so visceral we can almost hear Schwarzenegger yelling for us to get to the chopper at first glance.
Overall, issue #4 packs the punch the Predator: Hunters series needs, if only by the character development and action sequences alone. But it’s a punch that may have landed too late to really hallmark this as one of the memorable fights in the Predator story.