Aliens vs. Predator, also known as Aliens versus Predator, is a five-issue limited comic book series that was first published by Dark Horse Comics from June-December 1990. The contents of the second issue (actually issue #0) were originally published in three installments in the anthology series Dark Horse Presents, Vol. 1 #34-36, from November 1989-January 1990, as three prologue stories taking place immediately prior to the events of the series. The story was written by Randy Stradley, pencilled by Phill Norwood and Chris Warner, inked by Mark Propst, Brian Stelfreeze, Karl Story, Stine Walsh and Robert Campanella, lettered by Pat Brosseau, colored by Monika Livingston, and edited by Diana Schutz, with cover art by Norwood, Dave Dorman and Mike Mignola.
The main character of Machiko Noguchi would go on to appear in the comics Aliens vs. Predator: War and Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War, forming something of a trilogy. Characters and references to events from the first series would also appear in Aliens vs. Predator: Duel and Aliens vs. Predator: Blood Time.
In the Aliens vs. Predator comics line, Aliens vs. Predator was preceded by Aliens vs. Predator (1989 short story), and was followed by Aliens vs. Predator (1991 short story). Both short stories were later recollected and integrated into the main story in subsequent reprints.
#1: Continuing the story begun in the pages of Dark Horse Presents #34-#36, this is it — Dark Horse Comics' most ambitious project to date! The inhabitants of the colony planet Ryushi are peaceful ranchers — men and women who lead simple lives. But their lives are tragically shattered as they become part of a "coming of age" ceremony for that race of deadly alien hunters — the Predators. However, the Predators' prey are not the human inhabitants of Ryushi, but rather something far more dangerous — Aliens!
#0: Originally published in three installments in Dark Horse Presents, this edition collects the blockbuster "prequel" tale written by Randy Stradley and illustrated by Phillip Norwood. This storyline takes place prior to events contained in the Aliens vs. Predator four-issue, full-color series.
#2: The quiet settlement on the planet Ryushi is turned into a battleground as the Predators clash with the vastly superior numbers of the Alien horde — with the few remaining humans caught in the middle fighting both sides! However, when it becomes apparent that the Aliens are winning, the humans and the Predators are faced with a tough choice: trust each other — or die!
#3: All hell breaks loose as the warring Predators begin their attack on the Alien brood — with the planet's inhabitants caught right in the middle! Machiko has a plan to roust all the invaders, but what can she do alone, with only a gun at her side?
#4: Action is the key word for this final issue of comicdom's best-selling direct-sale comic book series! Machiko's only allies against the ever-increasing Alien horde are a lone Predator and a man on the brink of death!
A bizarre pod lands on the planet of Ryushi, nearby the rhynth ranching colony of Prosperity Wells, that is currently expecting the arrival of the Lector for livestock shipment. As the seeding pod begins laying Eggs, it is detected by the ranch's long-range scanners, and replacement administrator to Hiroki Shimura, Machiko Noguchi, is notified. Machiko shares a tumultuous relationship with the personnel of the ranch, and is forced to pacify a group of workers complaining to Shimura in regards to a higher pay cut.
As the Lector enters Ryushi's orbit, a Yautja hunting party's shuttle lands within Prosperity Well's horizon, the group led by the Leader Broken Tusk. By nightfall, workers Ackland and Jame Roth discover dead Facehuggers and a herd of dazed rhynth. Ackland tells her to give the Facehuggers to colony doctor Kesar Revna, but to lie that they had located them in Iwa Gorge to avoid a quarantine.
A party is held in the town for the arrival of the Lector and their first rhynth export shipment to Earth, and Machiko surprises the still-disgruntled ranchers with the news of their receiving a larger cut.
Meanwhile, Dr. Revna, intrigued with the Facehugger specimens' he has received, travels to Iwa Gorge to retrieve more. However, he encounters the Predator's shuttle and is discovered by the hunters, attempting to escape on his hoverbike. However, he loses control and crashes into Broken Tusk and incapacitating him, before driving into the shuttle, causing it to explode. The party, now without a leader or a means to leave the planet, declare war on their apparent enemy.
While reading Revna's report, Machiko is surprised by pilot of the Lector, Scott and subjected to his amorous advances, to which she briskly rejects by throwing him against a wall. Apologizing to Machiko for Scott's behaviour, co-pilot Tom drives Scott back to the Lector, just in time to be captured by a horde of Xenomorphs that had managed to establish a hive, alongside a Queen, within the Lector.
At dawn, Machiko and Hiroki send Copter-1 pilots Ashley Ikeda and David Spanner to Iwa Gorge in search of Dr. Revna, learning from his wife, Miriam Revna that the Facehuggers were brought in by Ackland and Roth. Ikeda and Spanner discover the remains of the Yautja shuttle and the unconscious leader. They subsequently take him back to base, unaware that the hunting party spot their aircraft and follow it. Coming across the home of rancher Bob Sheldon, the Yautja slaughter him, his wife and his dog, but their son, Bobby Sheldon, narrowly escapes on their hoverbike.
Machiko and Hiroki confront Ackland on his callousness. Ackland subsequently defends himself by saying he didn't want to delay the operation but Hiroki suggests any potential problem with Ackland's herd may be the reason the Lector has yet to leave the planet with its first load. Machiko subsequently sent Collins to speak to the Lector crew in person. Summoned to the med center, Machiko and Hiroki, along with Ackland and Roth, discover in awe, Revna studying the monstrous Broken Tusk, restrained and still unconscious. Suddenly, Bobby Sheldon crashes his hoverbike in town, and he is brought to the med center, positively identifying Broken Tusk as belonging to the "monsters" that killed his parents.
Having Ikeda scout the remains of the Sheldon ranch, Machiko warns the town of an imminent attack and secures them inside the main complex, Hiroki placed in charge of security. Prosperity Wells is barricaded with cargo containers, unaware of the hive inside the Lector. After learning that Collins has yet to return from the Lector, Machiko opts to investigate herself, being given a service pistol by Hiroki. Machiko goes to the Lector, escorted by copter-pilots Riley and Mason armed with scatter-guns, but Mason is seized by Xenomorphs as soon as he enters the ship, and Machiko only survives an outpouring wave of Xenomorphs due to an Un-Blooded interfering and attacking them. Leaving the inexperienced Yautja to be overwhelmed, Machiko contacts Hiroki in time to hear the security team under attack, where she discovers Riley already slain by another hunter, who is then overwhelmed by Xenomorphs.
Entering the south lock with the other workers, Machiko orders all doors welded shut except the east lock, and watches in despair as Hiroki and his security team are killed by the hunters through security cameras, sacrificing themselves to buy the colonists time to take refuge.
Witnessing the group of Predators parading the heads of human and Xenomorph prey around a victory bonfire, Machiko vengefully gears up for combat, but not before leaving Weaver in charge and giving Ackland a black eye for his causing of the Lector's infestation. Machiko takes a hover bike and travels to the med center where she reunites with Miriam. She leaves her a semi-automatic shotgun for defence before taking leave for the uninfected rhyth holding pens outside the Lector.
After she left, a lone Predator impersonates Machiko's voice to lure Miriam elsewhere, before ripping open the doorway. Broken Tusk manages to partially break his restraints to defend her. Hearing the attack, Machiko rams through the wall of the med center with her hoverbike and into the insubordinate hunter. Miriam, trusting her captive, releases him, allowing him to gear up and fight his disobedient charge, giving Machiko and Miriam time to reach a copter and take flight. After killing his foe, Broken Tusk watches his trainees fight against the Xenomorphs, in time to witness a rhynth stampede released by Machiko. He manages to get out of harms way by climbing a tower as he watches hunter and Xenomorph alike trampled and crushed by the stampede. While Weaver leads the evacuation, Miriam convinces Machiko to rescue the "Broken Tusked Warrior" with the copter, but a lunging Xenomorph causes it to crash.
Lector pilots Tom Strandberg and Scott Conover have since escaped their confines within the Lector hive, arriving in town to witness the chaos, as well as the copter crashing in front of them. Scott pulls Machiko from the wreckage whilst Broken Tusk carries Miriam in his arms, revealing that she died. Machiko, Tom and Scott board themselves inside the colony's east lock and plan to wait for the arrival of the Marines. However, Tom finds the message from Takashi Chigusa denying her request for military support and instead ordering the preservation of the Xenomorphs, and to await instructions from Shigeru Chigusa. Suddenly, Tom begins convulsing, and births a Chestburster that is immediately killed by the hunter, Scott realizing that he too has been impregnated. After Machiko offers to give Scott a chance at revenge and a mercy killing when the time comes, Scott gives her the codes necessary to crash the Lector's orbital barge onto the complex, before being put out of his misery by Noguchi.
Machiko and Broken Tusk use a tractor to ram-raid into the Lector hive, crashing into the Queen. Broken Tusk defends the emergency escape pod while Machiko activates the barge navigational instruction from the cockpit. Surviving the hit-and-run, the Queen attacks and mortally wounds Machiko's ally, but is knocked back by Machiko shots whilst she drags him into the escape pod. The Queen forces itself into the escape-pod, but its hand is severed by Broken Tusk and its head decapitated after the pod doors close. The pod launches just it time to avoid the barge crashing onto the Lector and Prosperity Wells, destroying the colony and eliminating the Xenomorphs.
The two survivors land miles from the now destroyed colony and exit the pod. The fatally wounded Predator uses the rest of his strength to brand Machiko with his mark before dying, Machiko tearfully lamenting her loss.
Chigusa declared Prosperity Wells a "write-off" and Machiko's contract was bought out. While the colonists were granted passage to a friendlier location in the Rigel system, Machiko decided to stay behind on Ryushi, living in a rancher's former home and mounting the Queen's head over her front door. There, she awaits the Predator's arrival for their next Xenomorph hunt.
The series, along with its prologue story from issue 0, was first serialized and reprinted in the United Kingdom in 11 parts in Aliens magazine, Vol. 1 #1-11, from February-December 1991. Although no distinction was made between the prologue and the main series, the former remained in black and white, switching to color when the main story began.
The series, again including its prologue as well as its epilogue story from Dark Horse Presents Fifth Anniversary Special, was later collected in trade paperback form in December 1991 as Alien versus Predator. This release was edited by Randy Stradley and Jerry Prosser, and featured a new wrap-around painted cover by Phill Norwood. The previously black and white prologue and epilogue were also colored by Monika Livingston to match the rest of the series. The trade paperback was released again as a limited edition 1,000-print hardcover in December 1992.
The full series, including both the prologue and epilogue, was reissued in a six-issue format under the title Dark Horse Classics - Aliens versus Predator from February-July 1997. For this release, the entire series was recolored by Chris Chalenor, re-edited by David Land, and featured new covers by artist Michael Dubisch.
In August 2011, the first issue of the series was reissued as part of Dark Horse Comics' 1 for $1 reissue program, which saw first issues of classic Dark Horse series re-released for the special low price of $1. The released reused Raymond Swanland's cover from Aliens vs. Predator: Special Collector's Edition.
The series was collected and released again as part of Aliens vs. Predator: The Essential Comics Volume 1, released on October 16, 2019.
The comic and its story formed the basis of The Hunt: Alien vs. Predator, a script for a potential feature film based on the Aliens vs. Predator series written by Peter Briggs in the early 1990s. However, the film was not developed at that time, and when a feature film based on the franchise did finally enter production (2004's Alien vs. Predator), the plot and characters had little basis in the original comic series.
Even so, some minor elements from the miniseries — specifically the apparatus for the imprisonment of the Alien Queen, the concept of Predator's hunting Aliens for sport or rites of passage, the teaming of a lead female human protagonist with the lead predator, and the use of Alien-body parts to make specific weapons — were carried over into Paul W. S. Anderson's film.
Behind the Scenes
Numerous sources, including Dark Horse founder/publisher Mike Richardson, state that the initial idea for an Aliens vs. Predator crossover comic book came from Chris Warner during a meeting discussing a potential crossover involving DC Comics, as a sort of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man-style monster meet-up. Allegedly, Warner thought up the AVP concept whilst in the restroom taking a break from the meeting. Warner, who has worked on numerous Aliens/Predator/AVP projects, would go on to serve in his current position as editor of all three comics lines for Dark Horse.
The series was preceded by a prequel short story, also called Aliens vs. Predator, published in Dark Horse Presents, Vol. 1 #34-36. The three installments of the prequel were respectively titled "Aliens", "Predator" and finally "Aliens vs. Predator" (in Dark Horse Presents #36), the latter being the time that the title Aliens vs. Predator was used on any official media. Dark Horse Presents #36 was published with two separate covers, one by AVP creator Chris Warner and a painted version by artist Dave Dorman. Several other Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comic book series were likewise preceded by namesake prequels.
The tooth-and-claw match up of what were hailed as "Fox's two greatest horror properties" was considered Dark Horse Comics' most ambitious project to date, and when this comic first appeared, it debuted as the best-selling comic to ever be published by an alternative publisher. It was also hailed by the company as comicdom's best-selling direct-sale comic book series.
In June 1991, the company released a limited edition Aliens vs. Predator lithograph of artist Dave Dorman's stunning painting (which originally appeared as the cover to Aliens vs. Predator #4 — only the sixth ever cover illustration he did for the company), featuring the series' unlikely partners — Machiko and Dachande — ready for action as the menacing tails of a hundred Xenomorphs close in for the kill. The exclusive lithograph was limited to 1,500 copies, each signed and numbered by Dorman. Reaction to the illustration was very positive and Dorman would go on to provide artwork for the illustrated novella Aliens: Tribes for Dark Horse.
Much of the information in the story was expanded upon in the 1999 novelization by Steve Perry and Stephani Perry, titled Aliens vs. Predator: Prey. This included giving a proper name to the Predator species — which in the comics is referred to simply as the "hunter" species. In the novelization they are referred to as the "Yautja", and Dachande's Predator-language name is also revealed as well as further information on his backstory. Timeline wise, the events of the first miniseries appear to take place before the Xenomorph infestation of the Earth as seen in Aliens: Outbreak. The follow-up comic book series, Aliens vs. Predator: Duel, subsequently makes mention of the events from the film Aliens as having already happened.
- A continuity error within the series is that although several Rhynth are used as hosts by the Xenomorphs, the resulting specimens are simply Drones; the idea of Xenomorphs taking on the features of their hosts was not properly established until one year later following the release of Alien3.