Despite having a star-cast, Ridley Scott’s 2012 venture Prometheus was a complete dud for me, as I’ve mentioned in my review of the movie from more than two years back. It stands as one of the worst movies I saw that year, and does an incredible disservice to the the Alien franchise, more so than the later sequels of the same name. However, it cannot be denied that there are indeed some interesting narrative points in the movie worth a second look, and that’s what Dark Horse Comics is intending to focus on its new series, Prometheus: Fire and Stone, part of a new age of books in the Alien, Predator and Aliens vs Predator franchises.
Prometheus: Fire and Stone takes place many years after the end of the movie, some hundred and twenty-six years in the future, when one of the neighbouring worlds to the moon designated LV-223. It follows a new crew, following in the distant footsteps of the Prometheus, intending to recover some valuable salvage from LV-223. But what they find on the planetoid/moon surprises them, and they inevitable run into a horde of aliens, setting off a great story that is quite typical of the franchise. These two issues are really great and I liked the art as well, worth making a movie about, actually!
The first issue is largely an introductory issue, where we get to meet all the crew members of the Geryon, which is the mothership-analogue to three smaller ships attached to it, the Helios, the Kadmos and the Perses. Led by Captain Angela Foster (female captain, yes!), the crew intends to claim some salvage from LV-223, a barren wasteland, the same as we saw in the movie. But things turn out to be very different once the Geryon lands on the moon, for there’s now a thriving (rain)forest where there was no life before, and it sets up an incredible mystery of what exactly happened on LV-223 in the years since Peter Weyland and Elizabeth Shaw’s disastrous mission to find the truth about the Engineers and the evolution of Humanity.
First and foremost, I loved Paul Tobin’s writing. He shows an incredible facility to cut right through the fluff and focus on the important aspects of the story, moving from one set of characters to the next as he gives the introductions and then delves into the mystery of LV-223, a mystery quite baffling in its nature since there are no records of there being any kind of life on the moon, despite recent evidence to the contrary. We all know that ultimately Angela Foster’s crew is going to run into the aliens, and just watching Paul set it all up is thrilling and exciting.
The pattern of the story is quite obvious of course, given what is going to happen and even mirrors the early plot of Prometheus, but the value here is in how different a setting LV-223 is in 2219. Sure, there’s no direct payoff in the first issue, and the second issue is almost all intensive action, but don’t let that fool you, Paul is introducing a layered script told in the traditional fashion of Alien stories, but with much more of an impact than the usual long odds, especially since the Engineers are involved as well, in some rather surprising scenes here and there.
The big confrontation in the second issue is easily one of my favourite moments of this new series, part of the larger Fire and Stone crossover event for the Alien, Predator and Aliens vs Predators franchises. Xenomorphs are some of the creepiest monsters in all of science fiction, and Paul doesn’t skimp on their badassery in any way
Juan Ferreyra is the artist here, with Eduardo Ferryera providing colour assists on the second issue, Nate Piekos of Blambot doing the letters for both, and some really wonderful painted covers by David Palumbo. The artwork , as a whole, is pretty fluid and evokes the full creepy factor of the original movie, Alien, rather than the more sanitized visuals of Prometheus, even when we are in the rainforest itself. And the best thing is all hte wildlife on LV-223. It seems that in the last hundred and thirty years the alien DNA has seeped into biosphere and given rise to a number of flora and fauna that are are every bit as creepy as the Xenomorphs themselves, like Xeno-monkeys and Xeno-Ants. Seriously, the visual designs in these two issues really are excellent.
No matter how you see Prometheus, whether as a great film or a terrible one, you really should be reading this 4-issue mini-series. It is completely new tales but also hearkens back to the traditions of the franchise, and is great in almost all respects, whether we talk about the frenetic pace of the action in the second issue or the slow buildup in the first issue.