Aliens, Predators, And Engineers: Four Things You Should Know About Dark Horse’s Shared Comics Continuity
Time to update your comic pull list.
With the success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, the notion of franchises existing within a shared universe is very en vogue right now. (They’re giving the classic Universal monsters the treatment.) The same thing has been happening to a much less ambitious degree with the respective universes of Alien, Predator, and Prometheus. The Alien vs. Predator movies were the biggest direct crossover so far, but they’re also very much the black sheep of the bunch, typically not regarded nearly as well as the standalone films. Whether future movies in those franchises will tie together closer or not, Dark Horse Comics is about to take this notion and run with it, rebooting their Alien, Predator, and AvP titles in 2014, then launching an ongoing Prometheus series to form a cohesive shared comics universe.
Dark Horse has been publishing licensed comics for titles such as Aliens, Predator, RoboCop, and others for decades now. That’s a lot of years of stories shifting into the rearview mirror, but the nice thing about Dark Horse’s Aliens/Predator/Prometheus reboot is that it isn’t a reboot in the traditional sense. The movies still stand as canon, this is just making a fresh start for the comics side of things.
The folks over at io9 conducted some great interviews with Chris Roberson, Paul Tobin , Joshua Williamson, and Chris Sebela, the four series writers. We’ve sifted through the lot and picked out the biggest take-aways that should leave you excited for Dark Horse’s grand experiment.
The Movies Are Canon, Except for AvP
Most fans would agree that the first two installments of both the Aliens and Predator franchises should be considered canon. Alien3 and Resurrection? Well, that depends on your fondness for Hicks and Newt, and your tolerance for pasty alien hybrid babies. Dark Horse will be considering them all canon. Aliens writer Chris Roberson says, “We won’t be directly referencing anything that happened with Ripley and company, but nothing that we’ll be doing will contradict or conflict with anything we’ve seen before, either.”
The AvP movies will be left out in the cold, however. AvP writer Chris Sebela says, “I think the AvP movies have a lot of interesting things going on,but they seem to exist in their own little bubble, one that’s very far away from ours.” So while the other three series will all be building off the framework established by the films, AvP will be a ground-zero reboot, at least within the shared universe Dark Horse is establishing.
The Tone of the Series Will Be Very Different
While they’ll all be sharing the same overarching continuity, a good Alien tale isn’t the same as a good Predator tale, and both are very different from the themes and ideas that made Prometheus interesting. Aliens writer Chris Roberson says that his series, in spite of that pluralizing s, will be more in the vein of the original Alien’s survival horror than the “more militarized” approach of James Cameron’s sequel. “These aren’t soldiers trained for combat,” explains Roberson, “but regular people whose lives are thrown into chaos when they encounter the unknown.”
As for AvP, writer Chris Sebela describes it as a revenge story. “It just happens that it’s a revenge story wrapped up in a brutal, nonstop monster movie, but a monster movie where you’re never sure who to root for. There’ll be lots of ultra violence, lots of bloodshed, lots of terror.”
The Series Will All Focus On New Characters
Don’t expect Ripley or Dutch to be popping up in the books anytime soon. For one thing, the collective timeline of the Alien, Predator, and Prometheus movies stretches across centuries (even further if you consider Proemetheus’ opening sequence). Regardless, the focus in the books will be on new characters, keeping them within the universe of the movies but enough removed to allow creative freedom. Most of those characters are being kept under wraps for now, but Predators writer Joshua Williamson reveals that his series will focus on an anti-heroic type named Galgo “who would stab anyone in the back to get what he wanted.” There will also be an old Predator looking for “one last hunt,” and the writer tosses out a few Moby-Dick comparisons.
One big question is what the Prometheus series will be like. Ridley Scott’s Prometheus ended with Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw and (some of) the android David setting off in search of the Engineer homeworld. That story is expected to be picked up in the eventual sequel, but in the meantime the Prometheus comic will be following all-new characters. “Myself, I love to focus on what’s still out there, both in the glory of exploration, and the horror of finding out answers you’re not ready for,” says Tobin. “New characters fit us best for those purposes.” Which leads us to…
Prometheus Will Be the Glue That Binds The Whole Line Together
Prometheus Paul Tobin says that “key points and characters” in the other three Dark Horse comics will arise from the Prometheus series, and Sebela calls Prometheus “the warm, beating heart of all these books,” adding that “everything spins out from the Prometheus book that Paul is writing.” The connections between Ridley Scott’s 2012 film and the Aliens films are obvious, but it will be interesting to see how the Predators factor in to the larger universe that includes the enigmatic Engineers.
We definitely shouldn’t expect the comic to follow the further adventures of Noomi Rapace’s Elizabeth Shaw and her BFF, the android David’s severed head (Michael Fassbender). That storyline is due to be continued in Prometheus 2, whenever that should happen. Tobin says not to worry, however, because there’s still plenty more narrative meat for the Prometheus comic to explore. “[The Engineers are] too enigmatic a race to stay away from, and the way that the various species interact… THAT’S very fascinating to me. How do humans see Engineers? How do Predators see Engineers? Where do we clash? Find common ground?”
You can read the full interviews and see concept art from Dark Horse’s Aliens, Prometheus, Aliens vs. Predator, and Predators comics over at io9.