Alien V Predator V: Ripley’s Revenge!

I’m not a big comic book guy anymore.

I don’t attend conventions. I don’t particularly enjoy superhero movies with the strange exception of the X-Men flicks. Guilty pleasures? The older I get, the more Kevin Smith strikes me as an above average wit who’s mostly just a smug windbag.

Scroll back to when I was about 13 or 14 however, and it’s a whole different ballgame. Between exploring my budding sexuality in my uncle’s hot tub on summer vacations and competing with friends over who could grind their party to level 99 in Final Fantasy 2, I was pretty obsessive about Mylar and Mutants. I’d worked pretty much on and off doing paper routes, accounting work and other odd jobs since I was about 10 years old, so I always had a little of a certain luxury most my peer didn’t: money. Art collecting, fine wines and real estate speculation aren’t typical adolescent interests. So I didn’t really have a whole lot to do with this income, and usually ended up blowing it on overpriced and over-hyped comics, obsessively collecting whatever series caught my fleeting interest. Years later, I have a whole lot of good memories of sitting on my bedroom floor, comics fanned out like tarot cards waiting to be read.

Now that I’m an “adult”, I don’t seek out comics. I do however, pick up some graphic novels at the local library. They’re typically pretty easy to read, and I can tell in a matter of minutes if they’re going to hold my attention for more then one or two toilet reading sessions (think about that next time you pick up a book at your library). Best of all, they’re free. My compulsive urges (collecting, shopping, etc) are gratified almost instantaneously. The only actual price usually winds up being some slightly embarrassing time spent browsing the comics section with a handful of kids who are intimidated by a grown man in their presence and, of course, late fees. Overall, it’s a great way to check out some new “light” reading, and maybe discover something pretty cool in the process.

My latest read though, was something I thought I had read as a youth: Dark Horse’s “Aliens Vs. Predator Omnibus: Volume 1”.

See, I have an impressive run of the Uncanny X-Men. I own a good deal of the early Image superhero books. One of my aforementioned mistakes on buying over-hyped comics for way too much money involves buying New Mutants #87 (first appearance of Cable!) for a lot of dough. But amongst all the typical mutant fare I had a certain affinity for darker and weirder comics. Titles like Gore Shriek, Taboo, Deadworld and Hellraiser to name a few. That being said, I collected a lot of Dark Horse’s comics, including Aliens and later Aliens VS Predators comics.

Thing is, I don’t remember any of the stories. I swear humans were only involved in the periphery. Victims mostly. So what ended up astounding me about this collection is how far Dark Horse actually developed this universe beyond the “Grrr, Aliens fast, multiply, ACID BLOOD. Predator’s agile, powerful, MONSTROUS!!!” angle. What develops over the course of this book is a pretty solid mythology that delves into culture, religion and humanity’s role in the whole mess.

It starts out pedestrian enough. There’s a solid, longish story about a windswept, sun baked colony planet that gets caught in an Alien V Predator bug-hunt battle royale. This is all lasers, bloody colored pencils, heaving bosoms, giant dudes getting ripped apart, and chattering Aliens getting mowed down by the dozens. This stuff I kind of remember. The specific story kind of rang a bell even if the places and faces didn’t. It was generic space opera stuff. And that was perfectly okay.

But the further along this story starts twisting and turning in just off the wall ways. A human is accepted into the Predator’s clan. Intergalactic corporations hatch evil plots to control the forces at work for profit. Eventually Occultism, eternal life, barbaric human sacrifice and a villian who’s kind of like a vampire are introduced. I was reaching some heady “What the fuck” space and I loved it. So captivated was I by this rush of weird that I ended up devouring the latter half of the book in roughly the amount of time it took to meander through the first story. And that raised a couple of questions for me:

What the hell was going on at Dark Horse and the managerial staff responsible for unleashing this on the world? I mean, as a concept Aliens VS Predators is simple. It has a built in audience, and it’s easy enough to cater to that. Just throw some guns and bras at the reader and blow up a spaceship or three. Deposit cash, repeat next month. But at Dark Horse, they just made it weirder and weirder as it went along. And I guess that’s probably the overall point of any independent publishing concern, whether its film, literature, magazines or comics. It just hadn’t really occurred to me in this way before, and it was refreshing. I have to salute the balls the Dark Horse people had on them to venture in this direction. Please don’t confuse me as a comics historian or anything; maybe this was common place for them and I was just too young to realize it. Maybe it was a deviation (I doubt it). Maybe I’m just drunk off lack of sleep and the urge to write (maybe).

The second question is, does Volume 2 exist? Does my library have it? And how the fuck much weirder does this thing get?

I guess maybe I am kind of a comic book guy after all…


3 Responses to “Alien V Predator V: Ripley’s Revenge!”

  1. April 28, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Ha, was I one of the ones competing with you for all Level 99s on FF2?? I remember doing it, but I don’t remember competing for it. I never made it all the way, though, thanks to the stupid always-dying white mage, who lagged behind in XP.

    Coincidentally, I recently downloaded a large collection of Dark Horse comics via BT. I remember you lending me your AvP comics in high school. You were uneasy about it, but I had earned just enough trust for you to do it. 🙂 Anyway, if you’re looking for more DH Aliens comics, check out what The Pirate Bay’s got…

  2. 2 asciigod
    April 28, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Damn, that was a fast reply. And yes, that WAS you I was “competing with”. Granted, it wasn’t really a competition. You know, literary license…

    As far as Aliens VS Predators comics: I am amazed I didn’t think of that. Although there’s something about having the actual musty trade paperback in my greasy mitts that’s appealing. I’ve never really been able to get used to scanned copies of comics. It would certainly be a good resource if I can’t find Volume Deuce at the library.

    Also. You gave me Daemon’s Gate on 1.44″ floppies. I think we’re the only two people who played that game and lived… If you can call that living!

  3. May 3, 2008 at 4:05 am

    Ha, that’s hilarious… I think my white mage only made it up to 92. I guess you won that one, you bastard.

    But yeah, it’s amazing how many comics you can download these days. It’s great for just taking a quick glance through the comic version of 300 after seeing the movie (yeah, I wouldn’t both reading the whole thing), but also great for getting copies of comics like The Watchmen. Welcome to the 21st century, dude. It’s called digital. Try it out.

    Daemon’s Gate?? I have no recollection of that at all, and a quick Google search only turned up some old Atari Lynx game that I couldn’t even get screenshots for. What’s this game??

    You know, it’s kind of hard to remember how we lived…

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