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The Complete Life and Death

I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. It’s been well over a YEAR since the individual comics finished and it seems like forever that the individual skinny paperbacks have been out…and even a paperback edition collecting the entire series has been out for awhile.

complete_life_and_death_library_edition

But this oversized hardcover "library edition" version of The Complete Life and Death is finally out.

This collects the entire Life and Death mega-arc, that spanned four mini-series, each touching on a brand: Prometheus, Aliens, AvP, and Predator.

Even the first issue of the story had comparison to/reference of the previous such mega-arc Fire and Stone…and it’s great to finally have this volume to add to my growing library of these beautiful hardcovers!

aliens_library_editions

Here’s the book with the other hardcovers and paired with Fire and Stone.

aliens_shelf_sept24

…and here’s my entire Aliens shelf. Assuming I discovered the Aliens vs. Predator novels in 1995 (I don’t recall for sure as of this typing nor do I feel like looking up copyright dates), that’s less than a decade after the first Predator FILM. And it’s been 23 years SINCE then…so for the majority of the time I’ve even been aware of either property, they’ve been a "shared universe," particularly in the comics.

For me, they just go together.

This shelf is the comics/graphic novels shelf…I have several shelves of novels (I believe I most recently showed those off back in April for Aliens Day 2018.)

complete_life_and_death_blogtrailer

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1990s Aliens Toys: Bishop

I remember, as a kid, seeing some Aliens toys while out at some store with my Mom. I’d thought they were kinda cool, but she had zero interest in buying any of them for me.

I think I’d associated them with an arcade game that was at the local skating rink…it’s also possible that I associated them with a bit of a movie I’d seen when Dad fell asleep watching tv; it’s also likely that–this being Kenner–I may have seen commercials for the toys. At the same time–the more I do think about it–I may have already read the novelization of Alien3, and perhaps had already seen the movies, which may have further explained my noticing/taking an interest in these…possibly prior to my getting into the books based on the Dark Horse Comics series.

I recently came across a couple of the figures at a local The Exchange and for the price, went ahead and bought them…though disappointingly, they did not have any of the actual Alien creatures…just a couple of the soldiers.

I was also particularly interested in the "free comic" that was included, quite interested in what that was content-wise. I did not bargain for it to be a rolled up pamphlet with no real story that simply serves as a guide to playtime and/or other toys to get!

Anyway…here’s stuff with the first figure–Bishop!

Aliens_Kenner_Bishop_front

The character looks like a "cool" android here, but not much like the film character. Considering these toys were (as I recall) marketed to kids, and (also as I recall in coming across them as a kid) found in the toy aisle with other kids’ toys…it’s just as well that there were differences as I doubt most kids that would’ve been wanting these toys would have been old enough to (responsibly) be shown such a violent R-rated film.

Aliens_Kenner_Bishop_back

The back of the card gives a tidbit of information about the character, and shows off the other toys in the line–something that (in this quantity) I wish more toy lines would do to this day. Seeing/knowing what’s out there does a lot more than having to (or happening to) "research" a toy line and whatnot. Show off the other cool stuff and prompt the person with this toy to also want those toys!

Aliens_Kenner_Bishop_profile

While these were just into the early 1990s, they tried to (somewhat) follow the "clip and collect" thing (something I personally most associate with GI Joe and TMNT figures).

Aliens_Kenner_Bishop_profile_instructions

Also good to have some basic info about the figure without having to "guess" or "not know until purchase" and getting the figure out of the package!

Aliens_Kenner_Bishop_back_tagline

"Space Marines," huh? "Space ______" sounds cool, I guess. Aliens "attacking," but no significant details. "heavy metal," yeah, ok, sign of the times. Generic text/"tagline"/"elevator pitch" for the line…rather sanitized, but hey…these were for kids!

Aliens_Kenner_Bishop_back_aliens

The aliens look a bit blocky here…but still cool. I’d be most interested in the Alien Queen and the Scorpion Alien, though wouldn’t mind getting the other two!

Aliens_Kenner_Bishop_back_marines

The rest of the "Space Marines"–though I notice at least one prominent character missing. Ripley had to be included, obviously…but otherwise, apparently who actually wanted any females? I’m not sure who "Atax" is with the "disguise" suit; but otherwise, looks to me like a good mix on the characters generically: A woman, "only" a couple white guys, a black guy, and robot.

And perhaps that was one of the things for the film–quite the good ensemble cast.

Aliens_Kenner_Bishop_back_vehicles

And as with any ’80s or ’90s toy line…of course you had to have "vehicles" to go with the figures! Of these, I’d sorta be interested in Ripley’s power loader…though ultimately I’m not all that interested in any of these.

As for the line itself, I’d love to find the Aliens themselves cheaply, even "loose," though I’d be quite interested in seeing what sort of "story" one gets across all the included "comics" inserts.

And speaking of said inserts…here’s the Bishop one, numbered as "No 1" and apparently starting off the adventure!

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The Weekly Haul – Week of May 3rd, 2017

This ended up being a "decent’ week of new comics–not horrendously expensive, but not all that small or cheap, either! But a bit of a spread on stuff I’ve been looking forward to, stuff I continue with, and some new stuff. Though it would have included Youngblood #1…except–thanks to all the variant covers–the "advertised" cover on the Image website was NOT available. Since I couldn’t get the advertised (and thus assumed to be "standard" or "basic" or "CVR A" or "regular") I did not buy the issue at all…and they lose any chance of my buying into nostalgia and trying any further issues. For screwing around with variants, they lose me entirely.

weeklyhaul_05032017a

This week sees part 3 of the Batman/Flash crossover The Button. A new Superman issue. Though I don’t plan to follow all 12 issues offhand, curious about the Bane: Conquest series, and the cover having a familiar-ish font for the logo and iconic look in itself as an image. New Captain Atom…and a couple new Ninja Turtles!

I am ESPECIALLY happy to see the return of the "classic" ’80s TMNT logo on the Funko Universe issue. E, after even the "classic" toys line adopted a "corrupted" form to make it look more like the newer branding!

weeklyhaul_05032017b

Having just last weekend "caught up" on the Life and Death mega-arc through the AvP properties, I’m rather keen for more all around, so definitely welcome this new Predator series.

I missed the Kamandi Challenge issue last week. And as to Swordquest….twenty-five cents. Not about to pass up that one…all the more with my nostalgia-factor kicked into high gear lately on stuff after listening to the unabridged audiobook of Ready Player One (and presently being "on the hunt" for War Games to watch for myself!).

No bargain/back-issues this Wednesday, no collected volumes.

We’ll see what’s waiting at week’s end…and Free Comic Book Day…and of course, the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie premieres tonight/Friday.

Latest Aliens and Predators Shelf Configuration – September 12, 2016

aliens_shelf_sept12a

aliens_shelf_sept12bWe’re into September, which means a couple of new Aliens related books due out.

I believe this week will see the release of The Complete Aliens Omnibus volume two, collecting two of the Dark Horse novels after the initial trilogy.

And the end of the month will see the release of Alien vs. Predator: Armageddon (Book 3 of a "crossover trilogy" called The Rage War by Tim Lebbon.

We also have the current Dark Horse Comics series Aliens: Defiance in progress, as well as a new Judge Dredd/Aliens/Predator series with an upcoming Aliens: Life and Death (though after 2014’s Aliens/Predator/AvP/Prometheus event and subsequent one-volume collection, I’m just waiting for the one-volume collection this time around, most likely).

There was also a recent collection of general DC Comics/Dark Horse Aliens stuff put out, and more recently a volume of DC Comics/Dark Horse Superman stuff (of primary interest to me, the Superman/Aliens and Superman/Aliens 2 material) published.

Along with the various books and comics, there’s the new Aliens Queen 6" Funko Pop figure that just came out (at least according to a months-old Amazon pre-order that just arrived). While I’ve had the "regular" Alien, this Queen is one of the larger oversized figures… and I quite like it, all things considered.

A couple weeks ago, I found one of the mid-2000s Dark Horse Press Predator novels at a used book shop*. Rather crummy condition, but at half cover price and to have it, I won’t complain much for the moment.

(* not Half-Price Books. I figure it could be missing the cover and they’d mark it up to at least $50 just because it’s out of print and not necessarily due to any great demand beyond myself…)

I believe there are only 3 or so Predator novels I’m missing, now to have all of those; certainly still missing a bunch of comic/collected volumes, but I’ve found the novels a lot more satisfying for both Aliens and Predator, and certainly more "history" with the novels.

And as seen in the photos above, also some cool toys for them–primarily Funko product, with a couple Minimates creatures and a Neca figure thrown in for my kinda bookshelves…

aliens_shelf_sept12c

Aliens: Defiance #1 [Review]

aliensdefiance0001Episode One: Derelict

Script: Brian Wood
Art: Tristan Jones
Colors: Dan Jackson
Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Massimon Carnevale
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Editor: Spencer Cushing
Designer: Cindy Calcerez-Sprague
Digital Art Technitian: Conley Smith
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Date: April 2016
Cover Price: $3.99

My earliest exposure to Aliens was the final battle with the Queen at the end of the 1986 film, that I saw accidentally, wandering out one time to where Dad had fallen asleep watching it or whatever preceded it. Several years later, I came across and read the novelization of Alien3, which led to me seeing that film (my first-ever R-rated film sought out!), and in turn led to “backtracking” to the others. I also recall at some point realizing I had read the novelization of the first film at some point without ever realizing when I read it that it had anything to do with any movie. I also came across the novels that expanded the Aliens universe, and which I eventually came to learn were themselves based on comics. It would be a few more years before I ever got around to getting to read those original comics–particularly the first ‘trilogy’. While I’ve “lapsed” over the years, the last few years I have been quite interested to learn of any Aliens comic series, and occasionally lament that it’s not a truly ongoing property (while realizing that it works better with finite stories). As a gamer, I’m pretty lax, and have not played the recent game with Ripley’s daughter, though I’ve been told a fair bit of the story (sadly, not consciously retained). But hey…comics, right?

So here I am…brand new long-form Aliens story kicking off, its cover putting me a bit in mind of a/the video game, and intrigued at what I BELIEVE to be at least a 12-issue saga–perhaps the longest single Aliens story I’ve been a part of as a fan (not getting into the comics until about a decade ago). I know Brian Wood‘s name from some prior stuff I’ve read/sampled–Northlanders, DMZ, The Massive–and been aware of his name on stuff like Star Wars more recently…so that’s a welcome factor for a new Aliens series. Icing on the cake is art by Tristan Jones, who I became aware of with his work on the Tales of the TMNT title from original TMNT publisher Mirage a few years back, and have loved seeing his work on various other projects since…and whose visual style seems a perfect fit to me for the Aliens property.

This issue is a first issue, giving us basically a brief paragraph of context/setup before we’re launched into the thick of things. We meet Zula Hendricks, a private involved in a mission to a derelict spacecraft. She and her fellow marines encounter Xenomorphs, and the situation does not go well. She and a synthetic survive, though she quickly learns that the synthetic is acting against programming, and her own world is changing as a result.

The story is good, for what it is. Which is not meant to be a negative statement…but this is only the first chapter of a multi-issue arc, that I believe is a year-long, so this is hardly going to be a full story in and of itself, nor is it giving everything away. And a single issue isn’t really enough space to re-introduce readers to a property, introduce new characters and detail their history, recent past, and present while also showing the scope of the property and of space and the horrors of the Xenomorphs. But we do get a fair bit packed into this, with Zula’s introduction and some flashbacks, a cameo of Amanda Ripley (which I believe thusly situates this time-wise somewhere between the first and second films), the synthetic Davis, some context for Zula and her place in things, and the final-page reveal of what seems to be the “mission” of this particular series…piquing my interest such that I almost wish this was a weekly series, because waiting another month for the next tidbit seems far too long. It’s not a cliffhanger in and of itself, but more a concept that promises a lot of great stuff, and I want to see it developed and played out, and be along for the ride.

Jones’ visuals are a great fit for this story, providing a great overall feel for this issue. His style is–as said above–very well suited for this property, and gives a gritty, dark, creepy look to the Xenomorphs and their brand of violence. The humans/humanoids come across as I would expect, while exuding whatever it is that just FEELS like they’re in an Aliens story. The linework and layouts are impressive, giving a sort of cinematic flow to the issue…and I’m pleased at the lack of full or double-page spreads, which often feel like cheats and wastes of space when they’re the bulk of an issue. Only one page is a single/full-page image, and that’s the ending of the issue, where after all those pages crammed full of panels, it provides a stark contrast, and really drives home the importance of the “moment” that it conveys.

The cover is also a fantastic piece of art, and for me quite iconic and recognizeable. It’s also all the more impressive to me as it’s the only cover image I’ve seen for this, allowing it to stand as itself and not be just one in a sea of variant covers diluting the thing. While there may be a variant or two out there specific to someone, I don’t believe there are any alternate covers from Dark Horse in and of itself as a push.

Plenty of questions are opened up here, and the apparent premise of this series now holds a great deal of potential. I look forward to learning more of Zula as well as Davis, and seeing what sort of interactions the two have. I’m interested in how their ‘mission’ will play out, and play into the larger scope of the Aliens universe. While we get the cameo of Amanda Ripley, I believe her story is told in the videogame, and more of an “Easter egg” tossed in for fans as well as being an indicator of the time this is set in. I look forward to seeing and learning more about the Aliens, and seeing these characters grow in their own knowledge and understanding of same.

It will be interesting to see how this is paced, overall as a series…but I almost wish this was already a completed work. As a first issue, this works well overall. I don’t know that this is something that in and of itself right now as a singular issue will pull anyone “new” into Aliens or be necessarily the greatest introduction to the property…but whether long-time fan of the Aliens comics or just now checking them out being familiar with the films and/or video game, I think this is a great start into the comics side of things.

I’m not particularly enamored with the cover price, but will suck it up, given this is Aliens . I’m definitely on board for this series, and definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve any interest already in the property.

Vampirella/Aliens #1 [Review]

aliensvampirella001Writer: Corinna Bechko
Artist: Javier Garcia-Miranda
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Colorist: InLight Studios
Cover Artist: Gabriel Hardman
Cover Colorist: Jordan Boyd
Published by: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Date: N/A (September 2015)
Cover Price: $3.99

In twenty-seven years, throughout the entirety of the ’90s and the ‘bad girl’ craze and all that…I never bought even one single issue of Vampirella. That impressive run has now come to an end, thanks to a cover and crossover…with Aliens.

Some cloaked/hooded figures in some sort of underground temple on Mars are attacked by Aliens, and quickly revealed to be vampires. Even their enhanced abilities are no match, and they’re wiped out. Some time later, a ship arrives at the station on the surface, carrying an individual with special expertise…Vampirella. She and the station crew investigate stuff and–of course–encounter the Aliens. They also learn that vampires are not the cause of the strangeness but victims. After fending off an attack that left most of the group unconscious with creatures having attached themselves to faces…we see that even Vampirella isn’t immune to Aliens and their larval Facehugger forms.

I don’t honestly know what I expected from this. I’d known the series was coming up, probably even knew this first issue was due out, but I forgot about it all the same, until I saw it on the shelf.

Despite the presence of Vampirella…the cover looks like an Aliens comic. Aside from the ridiculously unnatural near-lack-of clothing on the female, this could be any Aliens comic, by the looks of it. And that suits me just fine, simply being interested in something new with Aliens. I also like the way the two publishers’ logos are…neither one seems out of place, and the way they appear with the issue number and creator names, if one didn’t know better it’d be quite possible to think that one’s an imprint of the other rather than two “competitors.”

I’m not familiar with the creative team, so nothing prior to compare this to in that regard. But in terms of being “an Aliens story,” this is pretty formulaic and familiar…which I actually appreciate and enjoyed as I read this. (That’s what Aliens crossovers ARE, too, to me: something entertaining despite formula…because it’s Aliens vs. ______ [insert character/property]!) So there’s not much story-wise, to me. I’m aware OF Vampirella but know basically nothing about the character or her past stories/continuity. Ok, so she’s a vampire? Cool…that means she’s at least “tougher” than “regular humans” (as we see in this issue). I don’t really “need” anything else…I’m entertained at “Aliens vs. Vampires” here.

Visually…I like the art. This looks and ‘feels’ like an Aliens comic. And that’s more than good enough for me. I’m especially impressed with the cover, though. Different artists, but the styles work well together–the interior art isn’t a match to the cover, but it’s not a jarring difference or anything. And surprisingly–almost shockingly–despite one particular glimpse of a “classic” look to Vampirella herself, we’re treated mostly to a far more feasibly-dressed female figure that doesn’t make me feel dirty for buying an issue with Vampirella in the title.

I’m not sure if this is 4 or 6 issues for the mini-series, but right now (particularly given the issue’s cliffhanger) I’m very interested in the next issue, and will be keeping an eye out for it next month, whether or not I stick with the single issues for the entirety.

Not being entirely familiar with Vampirella, I don’t know if fans specifically of the character will enjoy this (at least for this issue alone), though I can’t imagine (so far) that it particularly contradicts basic stuff with the character. As an Aliens fan, coming to this because of that side? I really enjoyed this.

The $3.99 for one story chunk is off-putting as ever, put I’ve been pretty much beaten into submission on the fact that all the comics I buy are basically $3.99. While this is certainly an issue worth picking up to try the series, to get to read the story now and as it unfolds, and whatever other usual motivations are present for buyiing a $4 single issue.

Based on this first issue alone, I suspect the eventual collected edition will be of definite interest to Aliens fans, and as we get further into the mini, I won’t be surprised if there’s more material with what will appear to be a distinctly Vampirella tone, for those fans.

Archie vs. Predator #1 [Review]

archievspredator001Script: Alex de Campi
Pencils: Fernando Ruiz
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colors: Jason Millet
Letters: John Workman
Cover: Ruiz, Koslowski, Millet
Digital Production: Ryan Jorgensen
Design: Jimmy Presler
Assistant Editor: Ian Tucker
Editor: Brendan Wright
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Special Thanks to: Alex Segura, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Mike Pellerito, Archie
Comics Publications
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Date: April 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

The novelty of this title–that it even exists AT ALL–intrigued me. I mean, really…Archie and PREDATOR?!? That’s on a level like Archie Meets Punisher! It’s totally ridiculous…so of course I had to check it out for myself.

I’m aware of (and read the first couple issues of) the Afterlife With Archie series and such, that there’s been a lot of stuff lately to cast the Archie gang in an adult light beyond the classic pop culture iterations everyone “knows.” So sure, this definitely fits that as a concept. And aside from the sheer ridiculousness of the mashup, I’m a fan of the Aliens and Predator properties (more Aliens than Predator, admittedly) and have enjoyed plenty of Archie fare in my day, so this was certainly not an unreasonable issue for me to pick up and give a shot.

The visual style is quite familiar–rather than recast the Archie gang with a different look that would fit more with Predator, it was the Predator that’s slightly recast to fit into the classic style of the Archie characters. Of course, this is set off by the presence of on-panel blood and one particularly gruesome panel that is truly at home in a Predator comic.

We have the kids preparing for spring break…Jughead wins a cruise and takes the rest of the gang with him; we then shift to the kids on some island with a jungle. As everyone settles in, they realize Dilton’s rather distressed–he’s brought “work” (Yearbook stuff) on the vacation. The others agree to pitch in to help him get his work done so he can relax, too…which includes the Polls (Most Likely to Succeed, Cutest Couple, Most Popular, etc.). This leads to a huge fight that turns physical between Betty and Veronica over Archie (as always), and ends with Betty running off into the jungle. Meanwhile, Cheryl Blossom and her beau had seen a shooting star and investigated, though to a much worse immediate fate than the main gang. They cut the spring break vacation short and head home–back to “normal” little realizing how NOT-normal things are about to get for them.

For this issue at least, this really does feel like a mash-up. Aside from the blood and such, this could be just any other Archie comic. That we do get to see the predator itself, and some gore, and all that–and some panels of things from the predator’s point of view keeps this from being “just” some prologue, and is just enough to keep me from writing this off as some would-be thing or a pointless first issue AS a single issue. Take out the predator panels and this is an Archie comic; take those panels by themselves and it’s a Predator comic with a dig at familiar characters. Put together it’s a solid first issue of a limited series, a finite story.

We get a typical sort of Archie full-issue-length setup, we get to see the Predator, and we get setup for the rest of the series. I’d say this meets my expectation for existing as a single issue of a four-part serialized story, pretty much justifying itself in this format…just slightly more expensive than an Archie Comics-published comic (this is published by Dark Horse Comics).

The story itself feels a bit “off,” surely the presence of the Predator and blood and such, but as a non-Archie Archie comic it works.

I was anxious to check this out for myself, as said a couple times above…but I don’t think I’ll care to pick up the remaining single issues. As a fan of the Aliens and Predator stuff, I tend to prefer the collected volumes to single issues, and this definitely falls into that category–I’d MUCH prefer to simply have an Archie vs. Predator volume to put on the shelf amidst my other Predator books.

If you’re a fan of classic Archie and don’t care for darker, more serious stuff and have any active disinterest in the Predator franchise, you’ll definitely want to avoid this. If you’re a Predator purist you may not care for the lighter tone inherent with the Archie side of things (in this issue particularly) though it looks likely that that’s gonna go downhill in the later issues. But if you’re amused or curious at the concept of Archie of all properties crossing over with the Predator…this is well worth checking out. Despite that, as said–I’m leaning very much toward the collected-edition format myself.

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