Mega-City One’s finest comes up against two extra-terrestrial menaces…
Over the past three decades, there have been a number of attempts to spin-off two of 20th Century Fox’s iconic alien characters – the Xenomorph from the Alien series, and the Predator. Many would agree that the worst of these were the two Alien vs Predator films, produced before the studio decided sensibly to provide further separate outings for the creatures. Various novels – some based on the Dark Horse comics, others totally original – have been of widely differing quality: it would be good to see Predator offerings written to the same standard as this year’s trilogy of Alien books.
All of which is a preface to say that I went into this collection of Judge Dredd stories with low expectations, but was more than pleasantly surprised by the way that both tales maintain the standards of their respective source material. In both, Dredd acts as you’d expect him to – even in a total no-win scenario, expecting to become Alien food any second, he’s still totally focussed on delivering the Law.
Hailing originally from 1997, the first, slightly shorter, story focuses on the Predators as they return to the massively altered scene of a previous hunt; it’s a sequel to both movies, given the location and one of those assigned to assist Dredd in dealing with the menace. For once, the Judges’ superiority over the lowlife scum is their own weakness – it’s what makes them an attractive target for the Predators – and the battle spreads beneath the City before the Predator can be dealt with. It’s a terrific Predator story that uses them well.
The other story, Incubus, sees the Xenomorphs come to town. John Wagner and Andy Diggle’s tale uses multiple elements of the aliens’ mythology in a way that the reader can guess some of what’s coming, but still be surprised by certain turns of events. As with all such crossovers, they’re presumably outside normal continuity, so the major damage caused by the aliens isn’t likely to be referenced again – even if a rematch would be great. The 2003 story puts all subsequent Alien film stories to shame with its use of the creatures.
The artwork on both tales is stunning – the Predator’s natural form beneath its armour, and the Aliens’ differing versions are all rendered in almost photographic detail – and the collection includes the many different covers created for the various versions.
Verdict: If you’re a fan of any of the three franchises, you’re going to love this. 9/10