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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Aliens Vs Predator: Xenogenesis - From 2000

"All-New Series" shouts its cover blurb. Yeah, sure. How do you milk an alien? Publish an all-new comic book series on the popular creature-feature, Alien, for the umpteenth time. Yeah, but they threw in Predator, that other popular monster from that popular creature-feature, Predator! Again. Throw it out. At least that would seem to be a reasonable attitude. But, occasionally, one must reason anew.

Aliens Vs Predator: Xenogenesis, although completely predictable, is also completely fun.

Well. Not completely. Here is the well-worn premise for these crossover mini-series: humans gather for a purpose that leads them unexpectedly into a fracas with an Alien and Predator who are also in a fracas.

Here's the plot to this mini-series: this female convict is sprung by her boyfriend who has just received an assignment to team with several other white-collar criminals to pull off an undisclosed heist. When they enter a huge building to do so, they run into Will and Grace.

Nah. Da aliens.

It's a shame this title is so well written. It's so tempting to criticize what doesn't deserve criticism.

Wouldn't you know that the art steals your chance at trashing this new title as well? It is very stylized, an easy visual read, blends perfectly with its colors, and does a good job in making each character visually distinctive.

Dad gummit. It's enough to make you want to go out and buy the silly comic book.

And then there's the announcement in the back of the book that a new Alien, Predator, Terminator title is on its way to a comic book shop close to you!

Holy Hannah, bat-reader! It will probably be good, too!!

In a nutshell, Dark Horse Comics has done a better job at pulling another quart out of a movie-based series than any publisher in comics history. Again.

Dang it.

Review by Michael Vance

Aliens Vs Predator: Xenogenesis #1 of 4 is 21 pages and priced at $2.95 from Dark Horse. The writer is Andi Watson, The Penciller is Mel Rubi.

Age of Reptiles - From 2000

If there is one subject that crosses over into practically every visual medium, it's dinosaurs. Movies, television specials, magazines, children's books, even video games, have all spotlighted and highlighted the big reptiles. The comic medium is no exception, with one of the best examples being Ricardo Delgado's Age of Reptiles.

With no word balloons or narrative captions, Delgado's creation is not your typical comic fare.
The level of enjoyment one will receive from his work is also atypical. This type of endeavor pushes the art of comics to it's ultimate form of expression; I suppose you could call it the purest form of sequential art.

Storytelling is not forsaken, however, for a lot of pretty pictures. Delgado's highly detailed, richly colored panels communicate events in a way that would be lessened by the presence of lettering, even if used in a strictly narrative function. The remarkable cinematic quality of his work has even been praised by producers/directors John Landis, and Ray Harryhausen.

Unfortunately, an issue of this title can be completed in a very short time, even by comic book standards, and some may feel slightly cheated after shelling out their hard-earned bucks. All the more reason to buy collections.

Age of Reptiles, however, will prove immensely appealing to lovers of dinosaurs (consider it the Discovery Channel's Walking With Dinosaurs in comic form), as well as those who appreciate great art.

To date, two Age of Reptiles trade paperback collections have been published by Dark Horse Comics; "Tribal Warfare," and "The Hunt." In "Tribal Warfare," a rogue tyrannosaur raids a deinonoychus pack's kill, and sets off a struggle for survival between two dinosaur families.

"The Hunt," while featuring a story between a few main reptilian characters, also tells several other short stories of survival in cretaceous America.

Both Age of Reptiles collections can be acquired through comic shops, or by logging on to, and clicking "browse" on the drop-down menu under "books".

Age of Reptiles, published by Dark Horse Comics; "Tribal Warfare" $14.95, "The Hunt," $17.95.

Review by Mark Allen