Dan Abnett continues the newest Dark Horse cross-over cycle, picking up from his Predator: Life and Death with Prometheus: Life and Death #1. His Predator sequence was fun and lively, and Andrea Mutti’s artwork was just disturbing enough in how it ever so slightly distorted reality to make it relatively frightening, especially for a Predator story (which I tend to not find scary). It was a job well done.
But Predator is visceral and literal. A monster attacks, and you either defend, fight back, or run: live or die. Prometheus, however, from the film to the first comic series presented in the Fire and Stone cycle, is more abstract and esoteric. It’s frightening, not simply because there’s a monster coming after you, but because creation is being warped, reality is being reset, and the results – the not knowing exactly what’s going on and the implied – are what is scariest. They found the perfect team for Fire and Stone in Paul Tobin and artist Juan Ferreyra. The duo responsible for the chilling Colder improved upon the Prometheus film by leaps and bounds and together made it a terrifying experience of creation gone horribly awry.
Dan Abnett is just getting started in issue one, and it’s mostly interstitial set up. The surviving members of the Weyland-Yutani crew have been split: half are trapped aboard the mysterious ship they were sent to confiscate and the other half, led by Paget, are safely aboard the ship that brought them to LV-797. Communications are down. The two groups are islands unto themselves. Paget, after being a kick butt go-getter in the first sequence in this cycle, is left to wait and watch throughout this first issue. It’s the cutoff Colonial Marines aboard the strange spaceship that are left to deal with the Prometheus creator of life: the Engineer.
My biggest need here is the need for suspense. As a reader I know what’s on board this ship, and I know that it’s angry. The cover alone confirms what I know. Most of the issue is for the uninitiated, taking it’s time to introduce this aspect of the Xenomorph world to new readers. For the initiated, like myself, it’s going to be difficult to fully judge the story until we see exactly what the Engineer is up to. The hook to the story doesn’t come until the last page. Don’t get me wrong, it’s intriguing. It’s just unfortunate that the hook to this sequence comes at the end of the first issue. I wanted Abnett to cut to the chase, get to the hook early on, and see where that takes this story, see how it raises the stakes in a different way. How does that amplify the situation that they all find themselves in? Depending on where the story takes us, this could be a minor infraction or a criminal offense. Considering the title of the cycle, Life and Death, it all makes me wonder which side of the “and” does the mysterious Engineer fit into? An intriguing question.
Andrea Mutti’s art and Rain Beredo’s coloring captures the glory and scope of space, but their treatment of the interiors of the Engineer’s craft and the Engineer himself lose some of the mystery. Part of that is Abnett’s doing, as in this first issue the Engineer does little else than stalk through the hallways. Again, it’s great for the uninitiated.
I, for one, love the world of Prometheus, even the convoluted film, and with the excellent job that Abnett did with a character I don’t enjoy as much, like Predator, I’m excited to see where this exploration of the Engineer’s world takes us. Hold tight, I feel like the story is going to kick in in Issue 2.