‘Predator: The Original Comics Series-Concrete Jungle and Other Stories’ - Advance Hardcover Review

I’ve enjoyed Predator stories from time to time, but they can grow wearisome pretty quickly for me. Aside from humans and Predators joining forces on occasion, I haven’t seen anything that has really expanded the mythos for me in an interesting way since the first film. The films can be fun, some better than others, but even those often times lack the inspired nature of its cousin creation, the Xenomorph. Maybe it’s that I feel, aside from the first film, the nature of what it means to be the hunter and the hunted has never been truly explored. That being said, the Predator is only as interesting as the human characters trying to survive.

This is my first time reading the original Predator comic books (Concrete Jungle, Cold War, and Dark River) - collected here in a 30th anniversary edition - but when I saw it was written by Mark Verheiden who also wrote the original Aliens comic books (which are amazing), I became excited to see the Predator universe finally expand in an interesting way. Verheiden is occasionally successful in doing so, giving us glimpses into how the Predators work and what they need. The one thing Verheiden does tap into more than anything else is that uber-testosterone-fueled universe of the original '80s film. One big step in doing so is by making the main character Dutch’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger’s) brother.

Schaefer is a meat-headed New York City detective that exudes the same macho grandstanding the characters in the first film wore as badges, '80s quips included. We follow Schaefer through all three books as he finds himself coming into contact with and surviving more Predator encounters than seems reasonably allowed. Luck does come into play…a little. In the mix are various other characters: General Philips (from the film), who dangles the whereabouts of Dutch in front of Schaefer like a worm on a hook; Schaefer’s detective partner; a Russian female soldier; another badass woman in Central America; and others, though, at this point, Dutch is still MIA.

The most inspired book is the first one, Concrete Jungle. I think when we’re talking about expanding a universe, it does the job capably. The action is fun, and the situation builds wildly out of control like the perfect '80s film. I started to lose interest a bit with Cold War, but it had some nice moments, especially when it appeared to have a theme concerning humanity’s need for fighting rather than working together. Dark River is sort of the Apocalypse Now of the three. The original Predator has survived twice now and has lost its mind in a sort of Colonel Kurtz kind of way, making friends with the local tribes (who seem to worship it as a god) and killing even unarmed and peaceful people, which I guess Predators don’t normally do. I found this third book to be intriguing, and I’m not sure it went as far as it could have in exploring madness and violence, honor, and breaking of the code of the hunt. How would other Predators feel about how this one Predator has broken the code?

The art throughout is more than capable. It has that '80s/'90s comic book vibe that I grew up with, so it’s hard for me not to love it.

Overall, it was enjoyable enough that I might give the second omnibus a try when it is released, as most likely it will be with another film on the horizon. For Predator fans, if you don’t have the original omnibus, this might be a nice addition to your collection. The book cover art is beautiful.

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