ABNETT Trades GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY For MARINES In PREDATOR: LIFE & DEATH

"Predator: Life and Death" preview
Credit: Dark Horse Comics
Credit: Dark Horse Comics

The Alien and Predator franchises have been intertwined for some time, but this week each side's biggest warriors go head-to-head: Predators versus Colonial Marines. Longtime cosmic writer Dan Abnett is delivering a very different kind of space-based book with Predator: Life and Death, enlisting artist Brian Thies as the two sides battle for control of a crashed Engineers ship.

This is the second stage of a larger event that Abnett is plotting at Dark Horse, weaving together Alien, Predator and Prometheus into a cohesive universe with a larger over-arching narrative. Newsarama talked to Abnett about this week's new series, and the larger opening he sees for the Alien/Predator franchise in comic books.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Newsarama: Dan, what is Predator: Life and Death about?

Dan Abnett: It’s about a team of Colonial Marines deploying to a planet named Tartarus in order to police and safeguard the interests of ‘The Company’ (Weyland-Yutani). There’s more trouble waiting for them than they anticipate…

Nrama: Isn’t that always the case? Who are the team of Colonial Marines going to Tartarus here?

Abnett: Brand new characters. They’re experienced and well-trained and generally less gung-ho than the squad seen in Aliens. I’ve tried to build a range of characters that the audience can identify with and care about, not just a bunch of ‘redshirts’ who do dumb things that make the readers groan.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Nrama: When in the Alien/Predator timeline does this story take place?

Abnett: This is after the classic movies, and after the previous, and splendid, Dark Horse event Fire and Stone.

Nrama: We have the time, so what’s the place – Tartarus?

Abnett: The region they set down in is tropical rain forest, unpopulated, with few if any larger animal forms. There’s also a dark secret lurking down there… and not just the ferocious hunters prowling the forests.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Nrama: And the McGuffin of all this – a “mysterious horseshoe-shaped spaceship of unknown origin” According to the solicitations. That’s an Engineers ship, right?

Abnett: Well, you know that, and I know that… [Laughs]

The gripping thing about the best Alien and Predator stories is that the readers (those who have seen the movies) tend to know more about the latent threats than the characters involved. They are stepping into the unknown. They’ve never met anything like this, or even know about it.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Nrama: What would a band of Predators want with Engineer technology?

Abnett: In simple terms, an incredibly valuable trophy. But the Predators are alien (small ‘a’) creatures, and their thought processes, agendas and ambitions are harder to relate to.

Nrama: In 2014 you wrote Alien: Isolation. Are there bigger plans afoot for you beyond just this one miniseries with you, Dark Horse and the combined Aliens/Predator franchise?

Abnett: Though self-contained, this Predator series is the first part of a major event, “Life and Death” that will draw together all the three franchises represented here: in fact, Predator, Aliens, Aliens versus Predator and Prometheus. It’s a big story, laden with extreme danger, and our Marines are caught right at the center of it.  I’m be writing the whole event, threading each mini-series installment together into one big epic.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Nrama: What do you see as the big potential for Aliens and Predator comic books out there now?

Abnett: These are incredibly popular properties, beloved of SF and horror fans around the world, and they fit together really well. It never feels like a forced ‘mash-up’. There’s an organic flow to this epic story that I think readers will really enjoy - and given the power of the comic book form, we’re delivering the equivalent of a blockbuster movie I think fans of the movies will love the series, and comic readers will be delighted by an intense and visceral storyline. 

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Newsarama:Dan, what is Predator: Life and Death about?

Dan Abnett: Dan: It’s about a team of Colonial Marines deploying to a planet named Tartarus in order to police and safeguard the interests of ‘The Company’ (Weyland-Yutani). There’s more trouble waiting for them than they anticipate…

Nrama: Isn’t that always the case? Who are the team of Colonial Marines going to Tartarus here?

Abnett: Brand new characters. They’re experienced and well-trained and generally less gung-ho than the squad seen in Aliens. I’ve tried to build a range of characters that the audience can identify with and care about, not just a bunch of ‘redshirts’ who do dumb things that make the readers groan.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Nrama: When in the Alien/Predator timeline does this story take place?

Abnett: This is after the classic movies, and after the previous, and splendid, Dark Horse event Fire and Stone.

Nrama: We have the time, so what’s the place – Tartarus?

Abnett: The region they set down in is tropical rain forest, unpopulated, with few if any larger animal forms. There’s also a dark secret lurking down there… and not just the ferocious hunters prowling the forests.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Nrama: And the MacGuffin of all this – a “mysterious horseshoe-shaped spaceship of unknown origin” According to the solicitations. That’s an Engineers ship, right?

Abnett: Well, you know that, and I know that… [Laughs]

The gripping thing about the best Alien and Predator stories is that the readers (those who have seen the movies) tend to know more about the latent threats than the characters involved. They are stepping into the unknown. They’ve never met anything like this, or even know about it.

Nrama: What would a band of Predators want with Engineer technology?

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Abnett: In simple terms, an incredibly valuable trophy. But the Predators are alien (small ‘a’) creatures, and their thought processes, agendas and ambitions are harder to relate to.

Nrama: In 2014 you wrote Alien: Isolation. Are there bigger plans afoot for you beyond just this one miniseries with you, Dark Horse and the combined Aliens/Predator franchise?

Abnett: Though self-contained, this Predator series is the first part of a major event, “Life and Death” that will draw together all the three franchises represented here: in fact, Predator, Aliens, Aliens versus Predator and Prometheus. It’s a big story, laden with extreme danger, and our Marines are caught right at the center of it.  I’m be writing the whole event, threading each mini-series installment together into one big epic.

Nrama: What do you see as the big potential for Aliens and Predator comic books out there now?

Abnett: These are incredibly popular properties, beloved of SF and horror fans around the world, and they fit together really well. It never feels like a forced ‘mash-up’. There’s an organic flow to this epic story that I think readers will really enjoy - and given the power of the comic book form, we’re delivering the equivalent of a blockbuster movie I think fans of the movies will love the series, and comic readers will be delighted by an intense and visceral storyline. 

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