29 June 2012
FWS Forgotten Classics: ALIENS vs. PREDATOR (Dark Horse 1990)
There are ideas that are simply organic together, like peanut butter and jelly, manual transmissions and the Porsche 911, chips and salsa. It was somehow natural that when the alien hunters from 1987's Predator and the nightmarish aliens from ALIEN and ALIENS were paired together. But in the years since we first got to read about them in the pages of Dark Horse Comics, this wonderfully evil idea has been twisted in a perverse shell of it's former self.
Some of us fans of the ALIENS and Predator universes got lucky, we got to experience the Dark Horse Comics adaptation of these dark science fiction universes before Hollywood completely fucked them up with their abortion of films depicting the war between the Xenomorphs and the Yautja races.Back in 1989, Dark Horse Comics was forging the continuing path for these two alien races and their involvement with humans through separate comic series, and then in 1989, in DHP#34 combining them BEFORE the Predator 2 film. Then in 1990, we got the full limited series of five issues, and it was brilliant, becoming one of the best comics of 1990. This is the work that Hollywood should used for the AVP film without a doubt. Maybe we will see this AVP in the future if the universe has any sense of justice.
The Plot of the 1990 ALIENS vs. PREDATORS Limited Series
The 1990 limited series printed a #0 comic which combined all of the black&white comics from Dark Horse Presents, giving the reader background information on the setup of mankind's first contact with the ancient conflict between the Xenomorphs and the Yautja. Cargo pilots Tom Strandberg and Scott Conover working for Chigusa Corporation, are hauling supplies and empty cargo modules to Ryushi colony in the Beta Cygni system. Unknown to them, a Yautja mothership passes directly in front of them moving a FTL speeds. While the comic book shows the events onboard the alien vessel, the dialog is of Tom and Scott discussing modern Terran society and how we have moved beyond nature, and how humans are fucking with mother nature. Within the expertly drawn Yautja mothership, different hunting clans battle for hunting rights on seeded worlds with Xenomorph eggs via automated delivery vehicles. From the comic, we learn that the Predators have industrialized the hunt for the alien race, onboard the mothership, an Xenomorph Queen is tied down, while still pumping out eggs, and the automated loaders screen for any queen facehuggerss destroying them on detection. However, the clever queen gets one past the robotic systems. Far away from the bowls of the vessel, two alien hunters, one younger, one older with a broken tusk battle for the right to hunt on Ryushi, the older, more experienced Yautja wins, forcing the younger hunter to a jungle seeded world.
Here the comic shows the younger hunters struggle on the jungle world, and the warrior/hunter ritual of breaking a certain Xenomorph finger, using the acid to tattoo themselves with the clan mark.
Already, the reader is hooked on the well-written dialog of Tom and Scott, while visually learning of the Yautja culture and their role with the Xenomorphs.
One of the major Ranchers finds the discarded facehuggers, and covers it up, fearing the quarantine on his animals. The local vet, Dr. Revna goes out to hunt down live samples of the facehuggers, but runs into the Yautja party. He rams his hover-bike directly into their landing craft, destroying its fuel system and knocks out Dachande leaving the younger hunters leaderless and angry. They embark on a path of revenage on the human settlers of this planet, starting with the ranches, while impregnated animals are herded onboard the Lector. The plot becomes clear here, the humans, Xenomorphs, and Yautja all battle in the colony site, while Noguchi and Dachande ban together after the hunters lose their sense of honor by killing children. Tom and Scott become trapped onboard the Lector with the alien hive, and impregnated. To stop the war being the species, Noguchi releases the Rhynth from the holding pens. This flood of heavy flesh crushes hunters and Xenomorphs alike, giving the humans time to evac from Prosperity Wells into the desert. Scott and Tom hatch a plan with Noguchi to bring down the massive cargo module from geosych, ramming them into the Lector tug, resulting in a massive explosion to wipe the colony site clean of hostile aliens, Broken Tusk gives his approval, and helps Noguchi end the lives of the doomed star pilots. In the end, the hive is wiped out, the hunters are killed, and Dachande lays dying, in his last act, he rewards Noguchi with a alien-finger burn tattoo of his hunting clan. On the last page, she chose to remain on Ryushi by herself, and wait for the hunters to return.
What happened to Machiko Noguchi?
By the time that the heroine Machiko Noguchi made another appearance in the pages of DHC she was named 'Small Knife' by the hunters in the followup to the 1990 limited series; AVP: WAR published in 1995. She lived among the Yautja hunters for a few years, after a few successful hunts and matches, she was rewarded with her own hunter armor with weaponry, but yet not fully accepted by the alien race. It was on a human hunting mission, that Machiko decided her loyality lay with mankind and not the Yautja, causing her to be exiled from the clan. It was not until the 2010 AVP: Three World War,when the Colonial Marines ask for Machiko's help in dealing with a band of killer-hunters raiding a mining colony. This series takes elements from the film Predators allowing Noguchi to side with the more normal Yautja and not larger, more aggressive Yautja who are using the Xenomorphs as dogs of war. She may be humanity's only hope ending the threat from the Yautja race.
The Historical Context of this comic
Why is this a classic?
Before the video games, other films, and toys, this limited series gave us fans the first look into the culture of the Predators and how they viewed the Xenomorphs and us. More over, the story by Randy Stradley, was dead-on right, hitting all cylinders, the only misstep was the coloring by Monika Livingston, which was corrected by the 2007 Omnibus edition.
In the years after this 1990 limited series, seventeen other AVP comic series were put out, only a few were any good, and the steer amount of titles degraded the entire AVP universe. Even now, when I reread the original 1990 series, I was struck how great the story really was, and how it is unlike anything in the rest of the AVP universe, even the direct followup comics.
The standing of this original series is helped by when older fans,like me, were horrified at the treatment of the ALIENS and Predator universe by Hollywood. Causing most of us to openly wondered why the original Dark Horse comics were not followed.
We are still wondering and waiting.
Is AVP Military Science-Fiction?
One of my friends told me that AVP is not true MSF, at least, not without the addition of the Colonial Marines. I disagree. While the original 1990 limited series did not involve the Colonial Marines, it involve a military organization: the Yautja hunters. These alien hunters are the typical military structure that we have on Earth now, but it was similar to military-like organizations that the Europeans encountered in America and in parts of Africa.
It is likely that any real ETs we encounter out there in the black will be completely different than us, but like most lifeforms, they hunted for their food, making for a common basis for the Yautja hunters to be a reality. While it is not unique to develop alien characters who are based on Native American hunters/warriors (AVATAR anyone?), but I personally believe that the Predator films and comics help seed another generation with the idea.Another reason for AVP being MSF, is it generated quite a few ideas for my upcoming novel, Endangered Species .