Writer: Ed Brisson
Art: Kev Walker
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: Leinil Francis Yu
Variant Covers: Ryan Brown; David Finch & Frank D’Armata; Inhyuk Lee; Ron Lim & Israel Silva; Peach Momoko; Rahzzah; Philip Tan & Sebastian Cheng; Skottie Young
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 10th, 2022
The one thing everyone knows about the PREDATOR franchise is that the PREDATORS are hunters, and everyone else is prey. The humans may win, but it’s always after a desperate struggle against long odds. And the humans don’t go looking for the Predators.
The opening pages of PREDATOR #1 turn that idea completely on its head, though, as we meet the main character Theta. Ed Brisson and Kev Walker give Theta a violent, energetic, memorable introduction. Also, a surprising one because for the first three pages of PREDATOR #1 we think we’re looking at Predator on Predator action. Anything Brisson can do to make Theta impactful in our eyes is a plus because at the end of the day she is somewhat a stereotypical monster hunter character.
Following PREDATOR #1’s opening, Brisson sets about telling two stories in parallel: Theta’s activities in the present and her “origin” story in the past. The events in the stories differ, but they hit similar emotional beats until they mirror each other in the final pages. Structuring PREDATOR #1’s narrative this way keeps the tension on a steady upward climb rather than interrupting it by either frontloading the origin and jumping to the present at its conclusion or interrupting the present with an extended flashback.
One of the most welcome emotional beats Theta’s parallel stories hit is vulnerability. After PREDATOR #1’s action-oriented opening introduces us to Theta, the story moves in a somewhat different direction by contrasting Theta’s prowess in a fight with the tragic past events that led her down this course and the somewhat mundane difficulties she struggles within the present. It’s an effective balance that keeps us from seeing Theta as too powerful.
The first impression PREDATOR #1 makes visually is just how visceral Walker’s art and Frank D’Armata’s colors can be. The opening action sequence communicates how intense the violence in this series has the potential to be. From the start, the series looks like it fits in the PREDATOR franchise.
The way Walker draws Theta underscores the narrative’s sense of vulnerability. She is the very picture of strength and determination through much of the issue. But once she is on her ship, alone, that strength seems to drain from her each time Walker draws her. Theta feels very ordinary by the time the issue ends, a contrast to how we first meet her.
D’Armata’s use of color is especially intriguing. The sequences of violence in the past are no less brutal than those in the present–in some ways more so despite it being less hands-on. But the colors are lighter and brighter. The violence in the past feels like an intrusion whereas in the present it feels more like a normal part of Theta’s life. It’s a subtle but effective way to convey Theta’s development and what her life is like.
Brisson writes an engaging character in Theta. She possesses a clear voice, and I found myself interested in her despite her generic qualities. Walker’s art certainly helped in that regard. The underlying plot is fairly basic, again rooted in familiar monster hunter conventions. The strength of ongoing issues will likely rest on Brisson’s ability to add complications to that base story and grow Theta along the way. This issue does show potential for both of those things.
PREDATOR #1 isn’t revolutionary. It does upend expectations about how a PREDATOR story is supposed to work, but it never pushes the bounds of the universe it exists in. Even so, the twist is good enough to set the new series apart. It leaves me with more curiosity than I might not otherwise have. When the name PREDATOR is attached to a movie or book or comic, the mind conjures up an image of what that story is going to be about. This issue does defy that expectation but not in a way that feels truly surprising.