A lot of people complained about the movie, Prometheus, and missed the larger picture. The first collection of the Fire and Stone anthology, which was a sort of Prometheus sequel, used the potential of the film to go someplace spectacular. It showed us the creation of horror or the horror as creation. After reading the collection of Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone which follows the story of a few of the characters from Prometheus: Fire and Stone, it became plainly clear why Prometheus, the film, even as a somewhat failed film, was necessary, and why the Fire and Stone follow up did such a beautiful job embracing that potential, because horror needs something beyond what we understand to truly be terrifying, and Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone has nothing of the sort.
Prometheus attempted to add a deeper mythology to the horror of the Alien world, allowing a certain esoteric element to terrify the keen observer (again which paid off with dividends in Prometheus: Fire and Stone). Alien vs. Predator adheres more closely to what the franchises were becoming, especially the Predator franchise: things hitting and punching each other. The writer, Christopher Sebela (Shadowman, High Crimes) gives the faintest of reasons why they should be punching each other or at least reasons that aren’t all that interesting, or amount to characters ranting endlessly about their plights, rapidly changing their motivations so they can fight or friend whomever is in the room with them at the time. I really dislike characters that won’t stop talking, and this book contains characters that creep, stumble, hide, crawl, gallivant, and pace around their spaceship running at monologue level: constant. The problem being that as much as Sebela wants these monologues to really mean something, which is worthy(!), and he really tries, they just sort of circle around each other never really amounting to much of anything. “Why?” one of the characters wants to know for 90 pages. “Because,” seems to be the answer given at the end. It takes an entire book to get to that. Part of me would have loved those simple words being exchanged at the end, with nothing but silence and violent chaos before it. Maybe a stronger editor was needed to help give Sebela’s thoughts greater focus, because he has a lot on his mind, it simply doesn’t come through on a dramatic level. Chaos seems to be the running theme – but even a story about chaos needs structure and focus in the telling.
The Predators just sort of stumble into the story, as they are wont to do – and that’s fine if such a McGuffin led to something interesting. The Aliens fight who they need to when the story needs them to and then kind of don’t when they aren’t needed to, and the characters driving what little story there is amongst that chaos I really didn’t care about.
The art by Ariel Olivetti (Punisher War Journal, Lobo) is really gorgeous. The colors he uses are atmospheric, though it never quite leaves you with a sense of dread or danger or wonder.
As much as I wanted to like this book, especially since the Prometheus segment was surprisingly great, I simply didn’t get anything out of it. If you like monsters with teeth spawning out of different parts of their anatomy to bite other creatures with extra limbs that don’t seem to serve a purpose, but you just want to see all of these creatures fighting – this is your book, but don’t expect much more. Maybe that was my fault going into this.