Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #1
Written by John Layman
Art by Chris Mooneyham and Michael Atiyeh
Lettering by Michael Heisler
Published by Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing and 2000 AD
Review by Oscar Maltby
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Judge Dredd has faced the slavering horde and the universe's greatest hunter before, and now Chew scribe John Layman and Five Ghosts artist Chris Mooneyham bring the combined forces of Aliens and Predator to Mega-City One in the very descriptively titled Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #1. Chris Mooneyham's loose and animated style is a great fit for the madcap dystopia of Judge Dredd, while John Layman's dark sense of humor equally fits this miniseries' ludicrous concept, even if this first issue doesn't quite live up yet to the bold promise of the series' title.
John Layman instantly hits the ground running with his depiction of the iron fists of Mega-City One, letting Dredd run amok over the Cursed Earth in search for ArchBishop Emoji. Contemporary references have a long and storied history in Dredd's home title 2000 AD (most famously, “Burger Wars” was a Dredd story that could not be reprinted until recently because of its use of likenesses owned by McDonalds and Burger King), and the emoji gang is just silly enough to feel at home in Dredd's world. As is usually the case with cross-overs, Layman has opted for the slow burn here. Dredd and the Predators never actually meet, and the only xenomorph within Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #1's pages is long dead. Layman strives for your attention, despite the issue's obvious decompression. A group of redneck gene-spliced human/animal hybrids serve as the issue's antagonists, quickly and easily dispatching of a single Predator before handing over the mementos within its ship to cliched mad scientist Doc Reinstöt. As is always the case with AvP' expanded universe material, Reinstöt uses the Xenomorph's skull to create a fresh new Facehugger. What could possibly go wrong, eh? Layman plays the main plot of Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #1 incredibly safely, keeping itself well within the boundaries of the AvP and Dredd universes. If you've read a story with these guys in it before, you know exactly what to expect here.
Mooneyham's heavily cross-hatched illustrations have a messy quality to them, playing fast and loose with perspective and proportion to energetic effect. His panels are packed with texture, covering every corner of the page in Cursed Earth muck and grime. Mooneyham's frenzied scribbling even extends to characters' faces. Stubble is indistinguishable from general detailing, leading some ugly criminals to look a little overdrawn and unfocused in design. Despite these faults, Mooneyham's lines come alive for Reinstöt's band of animal hybrids. His style favors the animalistic, his endless texturization and cross-hatching more fitting for musclebound gorillas, crocodiles and stags than bald hooligans. His Predators too are mostly on point, although maybe a little thicker than the classic interpretation. His Alien warrior's skull and a freshly-born Facehugger are disgustingly bony and slimy, promising great work when the chitinous critters finally make their full appearance. Michael Atiyeh is on coloring duties here, giving this Cursed Earth the appropriately sun-burnt hues of red, orange and beige and bathing Doc Reinstöt's fiendish laboratory in dark blues and blacks. Like Mooneyham and Layman's work, it's solid stuff.
Over the years, Judge Dredd has taken on everyone from Batman to Lobo, and he's no stranger to either Aliens and Predator. His fascist ways make him an obvious match-up for... well, pretty much everyone, and John Layman has accurately captured the spirit of the eternally grimacing one and his colorful cast of criminal adversaries. Doc Reinstöt's crew of redneck animal/human hybrids are perfectly Layman as well as being equal parts absurd and fearsome, a formula that adeptly describes the world of Judge Dredd as a whole. Chris Mooneyham's busy pencils give life to Layman's worn post-apocalypse, even if their wobbly qualities sometimes detract from the issue's visual appeal. All in all, Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #1 is a solid set-up issue of an exciting (if slightly overdone) concept. Let's hope the inevitable monster triple-threat successfully pays off the promises of this decent if somewhat slow introductory issue.