In Review: Predator: Fire and Stone #4

One character's turnabout doesn't ring true, but the rest of the book is sensational.

The cover: It’s looks as if the title character is going to become another victim to the Engineer. The mysterious alien from Prometheus has the Predator on the ground and raises his fist to bring down for the killing blow, while the hero (?) of this series tries to push him off with his right. His left hand dangles loosely on a step, covered in his own luminescent blood. Nice composition and I’m always a fan of covers that make you root for the anti-hero, so thumbs up to artist E.M. Gist. Upon close inspection, the armor on both doesn’t look as good as the flesh tones or the background sky. Still, pretty good. Overall grade: B

The story: This is the payoff. Things have been building for a big fight between the Predator and someone, and I never would have thought it would be against an Engineer. The first page has a summary of what’s sent the Predator on his quest and the second and third pages, which are a double-paged splash, start the action as the Predator gives a right cross the enigmatic alien from the last Alien film. Writer Joshua Williamson gives the readers exactly what they want in this issue–a big damn fight. Stuck in the middle of this battle is human Galgo Helder. He’s chained to the Predator via an electronic manacle, aping the trope of The Defiant Ones. It’s a very clever idea by Williamson and I was really surprised to see what he did with it at the bottom of Page 4. Galgo is absolute monster of a character, more so than the creatures of this book. He’ll do whatever it takes to save his own hide, and he stays true to form. The battle between the two monster heavyweights is fantastic. I couldn’t imagine how Williamson wrote this out to artist Christopher Mooneyham without including thumbnails. Readers will not be able to guess who’s going to triumph in this fight until the very end, and the conclusion of the battle is fantastic! The Predator and Engineer portions of the story are brilliant, but the human components just fell apart. What occurs on Page 14 and what’s said on 18 – 21 are a complete 180 of what one character has been in this series and other Fire and Stone series. I just couldn’t believe it. I don’t know if this was Williamson’s desire or an editorial decision from Dark Horse, but it took a lot of fire out of this series. The last page of the book is perfection, but it’s mired in the incredulity of the previous four pages. Overall grade: B-

The art: Nothing but praise should be showered on artist Christopher Mooneyham and inker John Lucas. This book, from the first issue and finishing with this installment, has been always a pleasure to look at. There’s been action before, but not like this. That double-paged splash of 2 and 3 is a spectacular illustration to open the book. I love the smaller panels inserted into this larger image to showcase specific actions that each character takes. I was waiting for one specific Predator device to come into play and when it does on Page 4 the art wonderfully shows the carnage this thing can make. And there’s a circle panel on Page 4–I am a tremendous fan of this choice by artists in comics, as it makes me think of Carl Barks’s Duck books and harkens back to classic comic book action. As the fight progresses, each combatant becomes the worse for wear, with each further confrontation making readers squirm at the action; for example, the large panel on Page 9–I felt that! The power on Page 11 that throws one character backwards is spectacular. Pages 20 and 22 are poster worthy. Mooneyham and Lucas are to be congratulated for their contributions. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Applause should also be given to Dan Brown for his sensational work on this book. The opening page shows his skill with a bold, crisp red used for an electronic record of the Predator’s speech, white lettering on a black narration box for the translation, and beautiful blues for a cave painting and a hologram. These colors lead to the stark coloring on LV-223 with the black and grey Engineer battling the brown and tan Predator. As they exchange blows and weapon fire, the background is colored in bright colors, such as orange, to increase the tension. My favorite page is 20 with it’s gorgeous burnt rose and orange. Brown brought his A game. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Joining the fantastic font used for the Predator’s speech is the Engineer’s speech. I have no idea what they’re saying, but having the dialogue rendered in the way that Blambot’s Nate Piekos does them makes them even more alien. I love each of those fonts. Additionally, Piekos creates dialogue, narration, and sounds. All are fantastic, but the man deserves a medal for making the aliens’ speech so believable. Overall grade: A+

The final line: One character’s turnabout doesn’t ring true, but the rest of the book is sensational. Overall grade: A-

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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