In Review: Prometheus: Life and Death #3

This is a rare Dark Horse Comics misfire, with the story and the visuals not being outstanding.

The cover: An Engineer holds one of the ominous black containers above his head, while another of his race stands behind him wearing the iconic helmet first seen in the film Alien. Painted by David Palumbo, this cover looks fine, though I would have like to have seen some more refinement, with the characters and the setting with more definition, rather than loosely constructed. This is a good tease of things to come, but it’s a visual suggestion of two characters. Please note, the image accompanying this review does accurately reflect the cover, as I had to use my low budget scanner to make the cover big enough. The cover is not washed out as this photo is. Overall grade: B-

The story: The penultimate issue of this series written by Dan Abnett has a familiar looking xenomorph running forward in a forest setting until it receives a fatal blast to its head. Ahab the Predator took the creature out. Galgo is explaining to recent arrival Marine Roth that having Ahab around has keep the rest of those stranded on LV-223 alive longer than they would have been without him. Roth still isn’t comfortable with the Predator since a group of the aliens decimated his unit. At the home that Captain Foster and the survivors have created, she shows Mr. Melville and Singer around. Within she shows the newly stranded how they make water and what they use for food. The remainder of the issue follows two stories: the group that was stranded in the previous Fire and Stone series brings those of Life and Death up to date with how the xenomorphs and the Engineers operate, while the one Engineer wakes up a companion for a purpose that is yet to be revealed. If a reader is a fan of the Alien franchise or read any of the Fire and Stone series, this issue is not going to be exciting because it’s just bringing the new characters up to speed; it’s relaying information that is already known. Sure, it has to be told to the characters, but it’s nothing new for the reader. I have no idea how Abnett could have relayed this information without covering time with a dialogue balloon that stated “After a lengthy explanation…” What is given with the humans in this issue is not engaging reading. The Engineers are interesting at least, but by now a reader should be aware that they won’t speak and that their actions are going to reveal what their goals are. But five pages of Engineers, does not a story make. Overall grade: D

The art: Andrea Mutti’s artwork is best when characters are close to the reader. The first panel that shows the xenomorph running forward is very sketchy. The forest around the character is in silhouette in the distance, while in the foreground the growth is better rendered. The second panel has the character in close up and it’s much improved looking, thought the background is non-existent. The third has the creature’s head exploding, but where did the shot come from? The sound is selling the action, rather than assisting the art. And, again, there’s no background. The first panel on Page 2 has the xenomorph, the predator, and the humans being very roughly drawn. Look at the work in the second panel: where does Galgo’s left hand end? Is it in a fist? Galgo looks good in the fourth panel, with the emotion on his face wonderfully matching his dialogue. The final panel on the page chooses to focus on a creature to create atmosphere, rather than the characters and their trek to shelter. The humans’ setting on the top of 3 looks okay, but the dialogue is covering one of the structures. Additionally, the forest is presented, again, in silhouette. The characters in the second panel look good, again because it’s a close up, but the two panels that follow have the characters in silhouette; it’s only the third page and this has become an overused technique. Sadly, the Engineer sequences don’t fare much better. For proof, look at the setting at the top of 6 and the second panel on 7, which is just too simplistic for a franchise known for its detailed imagery. I could go on with more examples, but it just belabors the point: the visuals on this book are not good. Overall grade: D

The colors: The colors are very basic, with the human sequences being awash in browns and tans, the Engineer sequences black and blue, and the three xenomorph pages the brightest in orange and black. With the artwork being so loose, there’s not much that Rain Beredo can do to brighten things up. The opening page has the strongest colors when the xeno has its brain blasted: the background is a vivid blue and the sound dynamic in orange and red. After this, all the colors are so similar as to make the visuals even more lackluster than they already are. Dwelling on the colors’ deficiencies doesn’t improve them. They are just dull. Overall grade: D

The letters: Sounds, dialogue, yells, and the tease for next issue fall under Michael Heisler’s purview. His work is good, with the dialogue being crisp and the sounds being strong. I have nothing but praise for his contributions. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is a rare Dark Horse Comics misfire, with the story and the visuals not being outstanding. It’s impossible not to consider this issue, and this series, vastly inferior to the work done on last year’s Fire and Stone books. All involved with this book have done much, much better in other works. I’m continuing to follow this series because I love the franchise and I’m curious about what the Engineer is up to, but this series is making it difficult to continue my love. Overall grade: D

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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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