Dan Abnett has been writing since the ’90s. He’s a good writer. His work on the video game, Alien: Isolation, is really quite good, but for some reason his Life and Death series has felt less than inspired. Even on a basic structural level, it’s been pretty clumsy. The dramatic thrust sort of moves haltingly forward. There’s nothing surprising that occurs and every interesting idea is undercut by characters that aren’t all that interesting.
Issue four of the Aliens vs. Predator arc which I felt would be the finale (and I’ll come back to that) landed with a thud. Our heroes are trapped by an incredibly large swarm of Xenomorphs, and I’m not sure what it is about Brian Albert Thies’ art, but it doesn’t quite capture the terror of what’s happening with this swarm. One of the characters who plays a crucial role in the key moment of this issue gets to give a heartfelt monologue. I know I should have cared, but it was so melodramatic – so forced – and I think that comes from the fact that there is nothing natural about the emotional states of who these characters are. Making a character a lesbian isn’t character development. Giving one of the heroes a Predator companion isn’t character development. I feel like what Abnett is relying on in this series is giving characters traits and not needs and desires.
I mentioned I thought this was the finale, but it’s not. After this big dramatic conclusion, we’re given a final cliffhanger involving the Engineer. I don’t even know if it would be a cliffhanger, because there’s very little at stake emotionally, other than basic survival, and the story is essentially finished. Whatever it seems could be explored with these characters has been. I’m also not really sure what kind of threat the Engineer might pose that’s all that interesting. The Prometheus arc basically had the Engineers walk around like Frankenstein’s monster killing humans. I don’t know, we’ll see. I’ll read it just to see where it’s going.