Why Marvel Comics Are The Perfect Place For Aliens And Predators To Fight Again


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May 05, 2024

Why Marvel Comics Are The Perfect Place For Aliens And Predators To Fight Again

Once the crown jewel of Dark Horse Comics, The Aliens vs. Predator franchise could be the next big thing for Marvel Comics, sooner rather than later. Ridley Scott's Alien was a game-changer for the

Once the crown jewel of Dark Horse Comics, The Aliens vs. Predator franchise could be the next big thing for Marvel Comics, sooner rather than later.

Ridley Scott's Alien was a game-changer for the sci-fi genre, illustrating how horror can also thrive within the claustrophobic confines of a spaceship. Almost a decade later, the sci-fi action movie Predator debuted with a revolution in innovative creature design and a unique script that turned the theme of machismo on its head. As both franchises grew in popularity, Dark Horse Comics took charge of bringing them to comics, making good on the premise of the original movies. After Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, Marvel Comics launched its own Alien and Predator line of books. But one major franchise is still surprisingly missing from their roster.

It has been three years since the last Aliens vs. Predator comics came out. Before being conceptualized into a film, the franchise was an original line of comics from Dark Horse. Both Alien and Predator titles have a deep comics history, with Alien: The Illustrated Story, a graphic novel adaptation of 1979's Alien, predating even the establishment of Dark Horse. Initially, the publisher did not think about having an in-house crossover between the Xenomorphs and Yautja as they looked to pit their extra-terrestrial properties against DC superheroes. Editor Chris Warner was the one who suggested a battle between the violent aliens, and the rest soon became history.

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In 1989, the Aliens vs. Predator franchise launched with a three-issue black-and-white story on the pages of Dark Horse Presents #34 (by Randy Stradley, Phill Norwood, Karl Story, and Pat Brosseau). It was the first time the Xenomorphs and the Yautja shared the same space, with the latter breeding ovomorphs (alien eggs) to create the next big challenge for their hunt. The issue was instrumental in introducing several aspects of Yautja life into the lore, like their warrior class hierarchy, their propensity for hunting in packs against dangerous prey, and the ritual of becoming blooded hunters after their first kill. However, the real face-off between these behemoths happened in the four-issue miniseries that followed. The deadly confrontation occurred in the human colony of Ryushi under the supervision of Machiko Noguchi, who saved the leader of the Yautja hunt party and joined him in eliminating the Xenomorphs. She became the first human the Yautja blooded in Aliens vs. Predator history, becoming a living legend in their lore.

While individual Alien and Predator stories brought humans in direct confrontation with the alien races, the crossover books turned them into horrified bystanders of a fomenting war that began as a sport for the Yautja. However, in stories like Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War, humans took an active part in the fight beside the Predators against another rogue faction who used the Xenomorphs as their war dogs. A tripartite struggle on an unprecedented scale, it was also Machiko Noguchi's final appearance in the franchise. Apart from self-contained stories, the Aliens vs. Predator line often crossed over with the other titles, creating an overarching storyline. Aliens vs. Predator: Fire and Stone is one of the best examples of a franchise crossover, where the four-issue limited series gave the Yautja more than they bargained for. The AvP books also expanded the shared universe unlike any other media, melding together human drama with animalistic savagery.

RELATED: Marvel's Predator Just Gave the Yautja Hunters a New Enemy

When Disney acquired the rights to the Alien and Predator franchises, Marvel Comics released a flurry of eighteen covers that depicted some of its illustrious superheroes going toe-to-toe with the Xenomorphs and Yautja. Although the publisher has had the rights since 2019, they waited until Dark Horse Comics completed their ongoing stories with the franchises. In 2021, Marvel released its first Alien comic book with much fanfare. Previously, Dark Horse had continued where 1986's Aliens left off, creating its own universe of connected stories until Alien 3 happened, and the comics had to account for many surprising deaths and events in the film. Marvel's Alien circumvents this scenario by acknowledging Ridley Scott's movie and its sequel as canon and basing its debut issue in the year 2200. The non-linear story arcs chain together events spread across years, exploring underlying themes of Weyland-Yutani's greed and the toll its taken in human lives in systems like the Tobler-9.

Unlike its Xenomorph counterpart, the Predator comic book had a rough start in the Marvel Comics universe. The original movie's writers, brothers Jim and John Thomas, had filed a copyright lawsuit to reclaim the rights from Disney. The unexpected roadblock pushed back the expected release of the series by a year despite the busy promotional campaign surrounding it. After an out-of-court settlement, Predator #1 (by Ed Brisson, Kev Walker, Frank D'Armata, and Clayton Cowles) was finally back on track. A departure from the usual formula, it introduced fans to a young Yautja hunter named Theta, who tracked and hunted Predators to seek revenge against the one who killed her parents. Suddenly, the power dynamics in the franchise shifted, and the human element became more proactive in the stories. The following story arc, however, brought things back to the same old tale of gore and blood, harkening back to the plot of the movie Predators.

RELATED: Disney Has a Completed Alien vs. Predator Anime It's Not Releasing

With the Xenomorphs running amok and the Yautja polishing their skills using humans as prey, now is the perfect time for Marvel Comics to relaunch the Aliens vs. Predator franchise in print media. This also could give readers a break from the episodic nature of the Aliens and Predator arcs. Even in the days of Dark Horse Comics, the only line of books not constrained by a rigid framework was the Aliens vs. Predator comics. They explored the corners of space where no one dared to venture, pitting the worst of both extraterrestrial lifeforms against each other in a violent game of death. With the resources available at its disposal, Marvel can become the perfect synergy partner for 20th Century Studio, breathing new life into the AvP franchise.

Marvel Comics is currently gearing up for an exciting crossover event where Wolverine's adamantium claws will meet the Predator's wrist blades. It recalls memories of a nostalgic era of Dark Horse and DC crossovers, which may sadly never get another reprint. But with a big roster of Marvel characters ready to rumble, there's still a silver lining here. To this day, The Aliens vs. Predator franchise has a loyal fanbase, and the name itself is enough to spark conversation, even outside the fandom. All Marvel Comics needs to do is set up a good story and let the two heavyweights duke it out.

Sayantan is a comic book fan based in India who loves good storytelling more than anything else. His power to bore people to death with Kaiju lore is only rivaled by his love for books and movies. He has a master's degree in Energy Tech and loves to watch soccer. You can take a gander at his artworks here: @kenichikyuro