Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Andrea Mutti
There’s two problems with the second chunk of Dark Horse’s Life & Death crossover. The first is that a reader who wants to start at this point in the story is missing the four issues which came before. This is not insurmountable. The second is that it’s adapting the problematic chunk of the Alien franchise which resulted in a half-formed film that people aren’t sure what to make of. This is much harder to overcome.
Prometheus: Life and Death #1 picks up from where Predator: Life & Death left off, with a group of Colonial Marines from the Alien franchise having commandeered a familiar-looking ship from the films. The Marines are split into two teams, with one set on their own vessel hoping to get the derelict back to Earth, and the other trying to figure out how to control the thing. Their exploration results in them waking up one of the Engineers, who…well, nobody really knows what the Engineers want yet. But he’s taking his ship somewhere, and the Marines need to figure out how to get the ship back from “God” before they’re killed or worse.
In fairness, Prometheus: Life and Death isn’t so dependent on the Predator story that it’s absolutely essential to have read it. The issue’s recap page and a few lines of dialogue tell you all you need to know: that before the Marines got the ship, they had to fight through some Predators to get it. (There’s still a dead one on the juggernaut’s floor.) The greater difficulty lies in the fact that the story has to build on something whose source material was never that developed in the first place.
The problem is that over 40 years, the Alien franchise still hasn’t figured out what to do with itself. The original film set up the derelict vessel and the colossal dead alien as an intentionally unexplained backstory: it was enough to know “something bad happened here.” Prometheus attempted to give life to that backstory by unveiling the Engineers as aliens who apparently created humanity but didn’t like it for…some reason. We don’t know. The few Engineers we saw were grumpy and not talkative.
Anyway, Abnett’s challenge is to do something with the Engineers here that doesn’t repeat any of Prometheus‘ flaws. So far, he can’t, and so the Engineer who awakens in this story doesn’t seem to do much more than his film counterparts. It’s doubtful we’ll get much more insight into them until 2017’s Alien: Covenant explains things. Instead, Abnett has to make the Marines’ quest to survive the fight with this big, silent alien the compelling part of the story. It’s OK, although most of these characters are typical generic military-types who have to survive a big threat.
Andrea Mutti’s art is also OK, although it doesn’t quite capture the feel of the film. His intepretation of the Engineer looks a little less monstrous and intimidating than its film counterpart. At least his space scenes are impressive, with these mammoth spaceships still looking tiny against the vastness of the planets and space.
Prometheus: Life & Death may be fun for readers looking to fill the void before the next Alien film (and this entire 17-part series should wrap up just in time for the movie, so maybe they’ll connect). Thus far, it doesn’t seem to be so compelling that it’s a “must read” story, though.
Rating: Three asteroids out of five.