In Review: Prometheus: Life and Death #1

The story is fine, but the visuals should have been stronger.

The covers: An Engineer has appeared before the marines. It ignores them, choosing instead to look upwards at something only it can recognize. Adding to the mysterious nature of this Regular cover by David Palumbo is some terrific atmospheric smoke behind it, with just a hint of H.R. Giger’s design work shown. A creepy cover that definitely emphasizes the god-like nature of the Engineer. The Variant cover is a real strange piece, and it’s the cover I had to purchase. Sachin Teng has a front view of an Engineer’s flight suit, as seen in the original Alien, though its ribs are slightly pulled apart, revealing a human fetus within its chest, bathed in soft red light. Even after reading this issue, I have no clue how this relates to this issue, but I had to purchase this. Overall grades: Regular A- and Variant A

The story: “Forty-three years after the events in the motion picture Aliens (and just over a year after the events of Fire and Stone),” a group of marines have won a mysterious ship from some Predators (as shown in the recently concluded Predator: Life and Death). The ship is in space, monitored by the Hasdrubal, to make sure nothing wrong happens to its soldiers. Captain Paget of the Hasdrubal sents a message to her superiors that it will take six weeks to get both ships to Ganymede Station. As she looks at the xenotech trophy, Mr. Lorimer arrives on the bridge; he is the Weyland-Yutani liaison that directed them to send men to get the ship in the first place. He’s not well loved by the crew. He justifies his actions to Paget by telling her, “Technologies recovered from that ship will undoubtedly advance mankind’s quality of life. It will save lives, and in time that may begin to balance the books (for lives lost).” Dan Abnett then moves the story to the alien vessel, which has been unable to contact the Hasdrubal. The synthetic aboard the alien ship has been trying to bring up the ship’s comm, so they can speak with their captain, while another marine, Indelicato, touches something he shouldn’t have. The Regular cover shows readers that an Engineer encounters the USCMs and things go downhill for the humans starting on Page 12. The soldiers try to use their weapons, but based on previous comic book appearances and the film Prometheus, the results aren’t surprising. The enigmatic character finds something on 16, but its purpose is left unrevealed for this issue. I was glad to see that Abnett gave the marines a few pages so they could plan what their next steps would be, rather than have them to continue to fire hell bent for leather on this creature. The last two pages have something happen with the alien ship that causes Paget concern. The premise has been created and now Abnett gets to play. I’m on board for that. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals on this book service the story fine, but they, like the visuals on Predator: Life and Death, are not equal to the story. I think that Andrea Mutti’s visuals on this book would have been better had they not been colored. This isn’t to say that the colorist does a poor job on this book, but Mutti’s art is fairly dark to begin with and would be better left in its original state. The first page gives a good example of this: it’s a shot of the Hasdrubal in space and the ship is too dark to receive any colors. As it is now, it’s like a smear on the page and it gets no focus. The asteroids and the planet look fine, but the colors aren’t helping. Paget is drawn well, especially when she’s sending off her message to her superiors. Better still is Ancane’s attitude communicated by his dead emotions, as though he’s defeated. His words state this explicitly, but the way he’s illustrated completes this air. The fourth panel shows a moment the characters share is rightly blackened to show that they feel alike. The first appearance of the alien ship is terrific, with the stars around it beautiful, belying what lies within it. The second panel that stretches across Pages 2 and 3 is a great way to show off the characters looking upon the craft. Page 5, the first aboard this alien ship, is where things begin to suffer. The backgrounds are incomplete, the lines stop before crossing behind the characters. The faces on the marines on very sketchy. A turn of the page and Singer’s face morphs into something different from what was shown previously. When the Engineer appears, its tease on 8 is awesome, but the full reveal on 9 has his head looking too large for his body. And what’s up with his left leg in that entrance? He’s vastly improved in the final panel on that page, and his actions at the top of 10 perfect. However, his final appearance of the page has him losing a lot of muscle tone. The visuals allow the story to be told, but they are inconsistent and often incomplete. I’ve seen other work by Mutti look much better. This comes off as a rush job. Overall grade: C+

The colors: Based on the Aliens and Prometheus film franchises, the interiors of the Engineers’ ships should be ebony, with details highlighted by white light reflections. Rain Beredo rightly doesn’t go black throughout, instead using grays and blues to create the interiors. These colors are also employed on the marines’ ship, giving the book a visual hint as to a similarity between the species. Colors begin to brighter with the Engineer’s arrival on 8, with oranges deepening to red with its standing. Fully revealed, the colors go to antiseptic faded green. This lessened the moment. However, on the next page, reds explode shockingly to make the Engineer a serious threat. The remainder of the book returns to the color scheme of the interiors, since the violent actions are done for this issue. It’s a faithful following of what’s been previously established, but made the book really blase to look at. I have no idea how Beredo could have changed things up, but like Mutti, I’ve seen Beredo do much better on other books. Overall grade: C 

The letters: Computer text, sounds, dialogue, a quite apology, distant utterances, and the tease for the next issue are created by Michael Heisler. The computer font is similar to that of the films and the sounds put some good intensity into the story. The sound on Page 16 is odd, but, then again, what’s happening is particularly strange. I’m hoping this object returns and Heisler gets to give it some more sounds to add to its personality. Overall grade: A

The final line: I didn’t continue to purchase the recent Predator series after its inital issue because of the visuals and I’m feeling somewhat the same on this series. However, because I’m interested in learning more about the Engineers, I may continue to purchase this. The story is fine, but the visuals should have been stronger. Overall grade: B

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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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