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July 24, 2017

Ye Olde School Café: Aliens vs. Predator (1990)

Welcome back to another installment of Ye Olde School Café as we revisit one of the greatest rivalries in sci-fi! One that began when Dark Horse Comics pitted one of the greatest hunters in the galaxy against a nearly unstoppable killing machine in the original Aliens vs Predator series.

Where it all began!

Before we got the series that jump started the interstellar conflict, this only took place in the imaginations of fans during heated lunchroom debates thanks to issues #34-36 of 1989’s Dark Horse Presents which first introduced this rivalry. So during the summer of 1990 we got our first issue of Aliens vs Predator which blew fans away and was cemented in the fandom even more after an Alien skull was displayed in the trophy case in the film, Predator 2 later that year.

But thanks to the creative team of Randy Stradley, Phil Norwood, Karl Story, and Monika Livingston we’d get an acid-blood soaked story that kicked off a plethora of comics, toys, video games, and 2 movie adaptations. Aliens vs. Predator also introduced fans to “Broken Tusk” who is probably the most famous Predator next to the one that went toe to toe with Schwarzenegger in the original film.

Aliens vs. Predator begins on the planet Ryushi, where a rancher colony has been set up and we are first introduced to Machico Noguchi. However, she’s not the hard as nails, kick ass warrior that fans have come to know and love…yet. She’s the hard as nails, kick you in the balls, executive that has just taken over a new position and is trying to find her place among the workers who don’t see her as one of them yet. To compound her already growing list of problems with the new job, the colonists are about to receive some new and very unwelcome visitors as a ship crashes planet side. Little do any of them know that they have set up shop on one of the Predators’ hunting grounds, and it’s time to test a new group of young bloods as they have begun seeding the planet with their most deadly enemy/prey: the Aliens. So it doesn’t take long for things to go from bad to “Oh my god! What’s this on my face!” When some of the local herd are found stumbling around and sick after coming across face-huggers, the dead specimens are taken back to the compound’s lab for study while the ranchers speculate over what to do about the herd.

To keep what happened to the herd a secret, the doctor is lied to about where the face-huggers were found, and ventures out to the false location he was given to investigate. He ends up finding more than what he ever planned, because the Predators’ ship has just landed, and he is spotted while trying to spy on them. They quickly give chase, and let’s just say that the poor guy didn’t stand a chance against one Predator, let alone ten of them. While back at the compound, two pilots have discovered an open hatch that shouldn’t be, and upon investigation they run into an Alien queen and some of her brood. Talk about a bad day at work! What happens next is an all out chaotic battle between Aliens and Predators with the woefully unprepared humans caught in the middle.

Randy Stradley, along with the rest of the creative team, raised the bar pretty high with this mini-series which set the foundation for many AvP stories to come. From the revelation that the Predators have a tribal society made up of various clans. To a hint as to how the Aliens might have mysteriously ended up scattered across the universe since the Predators basically fly around space dropping them off on different planets then hunt them down to test young hunters. But the best thing to come out of Aliens vs Predator (at least for me) was Machico Noguchi. Her growth and transformation in four issues was more than what some female characters get in four years and I’m not even talking about just in 90s comics. Her alliance with “Broken Tusk” was also a great unexpected moment because the end result is something that surprised many readers by the issue’s ending. It was as big a moment as the two of them fighting off xenomorphs and defeating an Alien Queen without falling back on old movie tropes from either franchise. If I ever got the chance, I’d thank Stradley for giving fans an imperfect but strong female character who wasn’t a carbon copy of Ripley and also a woman of color.

Phil Norwood’s Predator designs were also groundbreaking at the time as we got to see specific differences within the Yautja race. From physical variances to armor designs and clan markings among the species. Not to mention the over the top fight scenes of Predators fighting each other, Aliens, and humans throughout the series.

Machico & Broken Tusk ready for a fight!

We always want to see who would win in a fight between our favs and for Aliens and Predator fans alike, Dark Horse Comics delivered! This was one of the most talked about comics around that time and had readers geeking out after every issue dropped. So it’s a good thing the possibilities are pretty much endless with these two and we’ve seen several follow-up stories over the years along with a live action movie adaptation and a sequel.

If you’ve never read 1990’s Aliens vs Predator and can’t find the single issues you should pick up Aliens vs Predator Omnibus Vol 1. It’s packed with AvP action.

To check out other classic comics spend some time at Ye Olde School Café!

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