Comic Review - Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War #1


Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War is a six-issue Dark Horse Comics miniseries, written by Randy Stradley, with pencils by Rick Leonardi, and inks by Mark Pennington.

‘Three World War’ is written by Randy Stradley, who was also the writer of Dark Horse’s original Aliens vs. Predator series, and the series Alien vs. Predator: War. This latest miniseries ties together with the plots of these previous series, through the presence of the human character Machiko Moguchi, to form a trilogy of stories.

The Story

The story opens on a small mining planet in the Alpha Centuri system. It’s an unremarkable little planet, with no military installations, so the miners are rather surprised when one morning a warship flies overhead, and lands in the middle of their quarry. The miners get to their armoury to defend against whatever threat might be aboard this vessel, but nothing can prepare them for what they see, as ‘Aliens’ starts to pile out of the ship. Not only ‘Aliens‘ come off the ship though, but ‘Predators’ too, and the Predators seem controlling the Aliens in some way. The miners are powerless in the face of such a threat, and the whole camp is destroyed within minutes.

The story then moves to the planet Belatrix 1, where the Colonial Marines have just landed outside a small hunting lodge, and are demanding to so the establishment’ owner. The lodge is run by Machiko Moguchi, who ardent fans will recognise from Aliens vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: War. The plots of these stories saw Machiko branded by a dying Predator, and through this mark she became accepted by the Predators as one of their own, and hunted Aliens with them. Therefore, she is about the best authority in the universe on the behaviour of the Predators.

The Marines show Machiko the footage they retrieved from the slaughter on the mining planet, and what she sees there horrifies her for two reasons: firstly, Aliens and Predators are mortal enemies, and never work together; and secondly, Predators normally only hunt dangerous game, and never threaten civilian populations. What Machiko reveals is that there are two types of Predators, the normal type, known as Hunters, and a renegade group referred to as Killers. Unlike the Hunters, the Killers care nothing for honour, and all they care about is killing anything and everyhting they can. What’s worse though, is the fact that they have found a way to control the Aliens, and harness them as a weapon.

This sets the series up for what looks set to be an epic battle between the Humans, the Aliens, The Hunters, and the deadly new Killers.

The Rating

Much like any fan of the Alien and Predator film franchises, ever since I first saw the films, as a child, I’ve often wondered what it would be like if they put those two films together. Wouldn’t that be awesome? How could that possibly go wrong? Well, it did, twice! Sadly, Hollywood managed to mangle up these two film franchises, to create two of the worst action films ever made - AVP, and AVP: Requiem. Panned by critics and fans alike, and terrible failures at the box office, these movies put the nail in the coffin of fans dreams for the ultimate movie crossover.

In the world of comics though, the dream of Aliens vs. Predator is still very much alive, and Dark Horse Comics have released dozens of series over the years, all of which have been praised by fans of the franchise, and have been great sellers for the company. I have to admit that I’ve never actually picked one of them up before. I guess I was always put off by hose goofy crossovers like Alien vs. Predator vs. Terminator and Superman & Batman vs. Alien & Predator etc. I tell you this so that I can relay the fact that I have not read the previous two series featuring the story’s protagonist, Machiko. However, I didn’t find that not having read the preceding stories was at all necessary to the understanding of this comic, in fact, all the necessary information about Machiko’s background is conveyed to the reader as part of the story. So if you are hesitant about picking the comic up for this very reason, then put your fears aside and buy up a copy, because this series can be enjoyed perfectly well on its own merits.

Randy Stradley delivers a well crafted opening issue to the series, which sets the perfect balance between plot set-up and the action scenes. The comic opens explosively, with tons of carnage in the very first scene, and some surprises to shock even the longest-time AvP fans. The scenes on Belatrix 1 reveal enough information to bring new fans up to date, but at the same time don’t spend so much time on past events that old fans can get bored. Stradley’s plot, and the introduction of a new faction of Predators, is nothing short of brilliant, and really enriches the Aliens vs. Predator mythology. I honestly didn’t really expect too much from this comic, but after reading this opening issue, I’m completely hooked. Randy Stadley has created the Alien vs. Predator story that I’ve always dreamed of, and I can’t wait to see where it goes!

The artwork on the issue is by Rick Leonardi, and I have to say, it’s not quite what I expected. I was expecting something that looks a bit like the cover art, i.e. like the movies. It’s not bad artwork by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s the kind of style that you see more frequently on titles like Superman, so it feels a bit odd to see Aliens and Predators drawn like this. But like I said, that’s probably more down to my perception and expectations. I should add though, that this in no way hampered my enjoyment of this fine story.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War #1 is a spectacular opening issue, which sets the scene for what looks set be an amazing miniseries. The plot takes an idea that’s become somewhat cliched, and puts an interesting new spin on it, taking the series in an intriguing new direction. Randy Stradley delivers a brilliant script that makes me eager to find out what happens next. In fact, I’m also going to hunt down the two series which preceded this one! Highly recommended for all sci-fi fans!


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