Wednesday, 15 August 2012

‘Aliens vs Predator: Three World War’ – Stradley, Leonardi, Pennington (Dark Horse Books)

Am I the only person who didn’t think that ‘Alien vs Predator’ was that bad (I haven’t seen ‘Requiem’ so can’t comment there)? If you look at it in terms of the overall continuity then there is a marked decrease in quality but why do that in the first place? Why not just let the film stand on its own as a relatively harmless piece of fun where two iconic aliens pound the crap out of each other in an underground pyramid? To be fair, beer does help as well… I should probably stop there :o)

I’m always up for some Predators and Aliens killing each other, with hapless humans caught in the middle, so when I saw ‘Three World War’ (the clumsiest sounding title ever?) in the library I was immediately bugging Sue to see if she had any room left on her library card, I’ve lost mine again…
The Raymond Swanland cover was a pretty big draw as well; it’s becoming more and more clear to me that I will read pretty much anything if Swanland has been involved in the cover art.
‘Three World War’ is basically ‘Aliens’ with some added Predators to spice things up a bit. It’s fun while you’re reading it but when you’ve finished you realise that there actually wasn’t an awful lot to it after all…

And here’s the blurb,

A centuries-old interstellar conflict threatens humanity's very existence as a long-lost Predator clan stakes its claim for galactic dominance, intent on exterminating its rival clan, the selfsame trophy hunters who have plagued Earth's history and every world they have touched. And if the advanced technology and military precision of this new threat weren't enough, they have an even more terrifying weapon at their disposal -- Aliens, weaponized and under their malefic control. This puts earthmen in the dangerous position of parlaying with the same alien warriors who have relentlessly hunted them, and who better to carry out the negotiations than Machiko Noguchi, the only human known to have spent time alongside the Hunters.

‘Three World War’ collects the original six issue mini-series and I found, very quickly, that I couldn’t put it down. There is an awful lot going on here, at least I thought so at the time…
It’s very easy to get all caught up in the action, there’s plenty on display, as two factions become wary allies and join forces to take down the third faction. Predators fight Predators, the Aliens fight Predators and Humans while the Humans just seem to shoot at whatever is trying to kill them at any one time. It doesn’t let up for a second with smooth transitions from planetary confrontations to warfare in space; there’s something for everyone and Leonardi and Pennington illustrate it all to great effect. These guys clearly know what an ‘Alien/Predator scrap’ should involve and they deliver, no question about it.

Going through the book though, I couldn’t help but wonder if Stradley had really missed an opportunity to really flesh things out and give us a plot that’s a little more three dimensional. After all, as entertaining as it was there is only so much that you can do with a series of big ol’ fights. There doesn’t seem to be much underpinning these, just the need for some conflict resolution (the final solution to the conflict was a little too simple for me as well). This is quite annoying, in a way, as you can see moments where things could have been expanded to give the reader something far more engaging. I mean, we have a human character that lived with a Predator clan; what an opportunity to explore precisely what that means. We don’t get that though, just a few comments designed almost to throw us off the scent entirely. The Predators are far too alien to understand properly, unless they really lay it on the line, so why bother? That’s a real cop out as far as I’m concerned.

A lot of fun then but ‘Three World War’ ends up feeling strangely hollow, at least it did for me. I wouldn’t mind seeing it on the big screen though, could be even more fun…

Seven and a Half out of Ten


Alan Forsythe said...

Interesting review in that I've always wondered why this franchise was squandered.

The recent Alien and Predator movies have been a huge let down from what, I think, they could have been.

I novel that really went into some of the back story of the Predators would have got my money, this clearly isn't it.

Liesel K. Hill said...

For me it's one of those things that's an awesome concept and really fun to imagine/think about, but not that much fun to watch in execution. I don't know why, but I think a lot of people feel that way. That said, the movies aren't ever total flops, which means some people must enjoy them! :D

Anonymous said...

Jacob A.

I really liked the movie myself. Much like Graeme, I found it to be a fun popcorn flick.

Alien and Aliens could be considered classics, but the rest of the Aliens flicks were horrible so AvP didn't ruin anything. Predator and Predator 2 were entertaining but beside the clever premise, were rather schlocky 80's action movies.