Predator: Concrete Jungle, originally titled Predator, is a four-issue limited comic book series that was first published by Dark Horse Comics from June 1989-March 1990. It was the first comic in the now extensive Predator comics line. The story was written by Mark Verheiden, pencilled by Chris Warner and Ron Randall, inked by Sam de la Rosa, Randy Emberlin, Warner and Randall, colored by Chris Chalenor, lettered by J. David Jackson and Jim Massara, and edited by Randy Stradley, with covers by Warner.
As a sequel to the 1987 film Predator, the series was originally intended to feature the character of Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, now serving as a police officer, in an urban battle with a new Predator. However, the lead character of the comics series was ultimately changed to Detective John Schaefer, the brother of Dutch from the first film. The comic was followed by two direct sequels, Predator: Cold War (1991) and Predator: Dark River (1996).
The comic series proved to be a success for the company and spawned an extensive line of Predator comic books. It was followed by Predator: God's Truth.
In a heat-ravaged New York City, a secret meeting between two of the city's gang bosses, Lamb and Carr, is broken up by an unknown assailant. Responding to the reports of gunfire, Detectives Rasche and Schaefer ignore orders to stay out of the scene and enter the abandoned tenement to find both gangs massacred; only Carr has survived the slaughter, and he manages to escape before Rasche and Schaefer can arrest him. Captain McComb arrives and reprimands the two officers for disobeying orders not to enter the premises, warning them to stay off the case and informing them that the "feds" will handle it.
Several days later, another attack targets an NYPD firing range, leaving only the unarmed desk clerk alive. Rasche and Schaefer again enter the scene without authorization, and are duly confronted by General Philips of the US Army, who takes the detectives aside and presses them not to pursue the killings. Schaefer is unrepentant, especially when Philips mentions he knew Schaefer's missing brother, Dutch. Following the meeting, Rasche and Schaefer return to the scene of the mob massacre to look for clues. Schaefer heads inside alone and is attacked by the killer, a giant figure who brutally kicks him out of a window, but not before Schaefer is able to tear off the suspect's helmet. Rasche takes his injured partner to hospital, where doctors reveal a mysterious metal device has been attached to the back of Schaefer's neck and threatens to sever his carotid artery if it is removed.
Realizing he has been tagged specifically, Schaefer tells Rasche to take a vacation with his family while he himself travels to Central America, following up on information given to him by his brother Dutch shortly before his disappearance. Retracing Dutch's steps, he heads into the jungle, finding a destroyed rebel encampment and eventually a huge blast crater. There he is attacked by a Predator, which he recognises as the suspect from New York, and just barely manages to kill the creature by kicking it over a cliff where it is impaled on a branch. Thinking the job completed, Schaefer plans his return to the US, but on the way out of the jungle is captured by Eschevera, a drug dealer he previously wounded in New York. Taken to Eschevera's base of operations, the drug lord prepares to have Schaefer tortured, only for his fortified compound to be attacked by a group of Predators. Schaefer escapes the carnage and flees back into the jungle, where he is recovered by General Philips.
Back in New York, a shocked Rasche discovers there is a fleet of Predator ships hovering over the city when he happens to look through the helmet Schaefer recovered earlier. He tries to convince his superiors, but is captured by Philips' men. From them learns that Philips intends to hand Schaefer over to the aliens, having presumed that the hunters are here to settle the score after Dutch killed one of their member in Central America and hoping that giving them what they want will convince them to leave Earth in peace. Learning the location of the swap, Rasche escapes and heads there to save Schaefer. He arrives to find Schaefer already holding his captors at gunpoint, and the two flee the scene.
Determined to fight the Predators, Schaefer takes an incredulous Rasche to recruit Carr and his men for a final showdown with the aliens, arming them with heavy weapons recovered from an NYPD lockup. Schaefer gets the Predators' attention by firing at one of their ships with an RPG, and sure enough the creatures land and disembark for a close-quarters fight on the ground. Assistance arrives in the form of soldiers and a fleet of US Army helicopter gunships after Philips reconsiders his stance of appeasement towards the aliens, but even so the Predators' advanced technology gives them the upper hand. However, a huge storm suddenly breaks over the city, signalling the end of the heatwave. In response, the creatures return to their vessel, departing Earth with their ships.
#1: The Predators are back, only this time their hunting ground isn't the tropical jungles of South America — it's the concrete and street jungles of New York City! It's the hottest summer on record, and Detective Schaefer suspects that his brother's disappearance is somehow tied to the wave of gruesome murders plaguing New York!
#2: New York City's Detective Schaefer has seen it all, from domestic murders to drug-gang executions. But Schaefer's never seen the Big Apple awash in so much blood as tonight, with flayed bodies hung like meat being cured for mealtime. When Schaefer has a close encounter with one of the murderers, he realizes he's run into something much bigger than the police suspect. Can even the toughest cop stand up to the ultimate hunter?
#3: Things get worse for Schaefer and his partner, Detective Rasche, as Rasche discovers the existence of a whole fleet of Predators ready to invade and Schaefer comes face-to-face with the Colombian drug lords! Also, general panic continues in New York as the Predators hunt for Schaefer and kill everyone in their path!
#4: Schaefer and Rasche are reunited at last, but it's just in time to fight the battle of their lives! It's all-out war against the Predator army, and since the army and police want Schaefer and Rasche out of the way — the two must turn to one of their enemies for the manpower they need! Will anyone — or anything — be left standing when the smoke clears?
After its initial publication under the original title Predator, the series received its current title, Predator: Concrete Jungle, when it was collected in a trade paperback released in September 1990. This edition featured a new painted cover by airbrush artist Den Beauvais.
The series was collected again as part of the oversized hardcover Predator 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series trade paperback, alongside the sequel stories Predator: Cold War and Predator: Dark River. The collection was released in June 2017 (to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the film Predator).
Behind the Scenes
Concrete Jungle is the first in a trilogy of stories featuring Detective Shaefer, continued with Predator: Cold War and concluded with Predator: Dark River. These three comics are now referred to as the "core Dark Horse Predator graphic novels" by the publisher.
Series writer Mark Verheiden is a hugely influential figure in the world of Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comics, having also written the two sequels to the original Predator miniseries, as well as Aliens: Outbreak, the first ever Aliens comic, along with several other core comic book stories in the Aliens and Predator lines. Aside from his contributions to those franchises, he has worked on the likes of Superman for DC Comics, and wrote the scripts for the feature films The Mask and Timecop, both of which are based on Dark Horse properties, the latter being a Verheiden creation. In recognition of his contributions to the Alien vs. Predator universe, the mercenary Mark Verheiden in the film Alien vs. Predator was named after the author.
Like Verheiden, artist Ron Randall would also go on to provide artwork for the sequels Cold War and Dark River, although he was assisted by Chris Warner on the first four-issue series. Warner is perhaps better known as an editor for Dark Horse Comics, having worked in such a role on numerous Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comics, as well as a great number of other Dark Horse publications. In 2016, the year Dark Horse Comics celebrated its 30th anniversary, Warner was among the artists chosen to contribute to the company's year long anniversary variant cover program, creating a special alternate cover for Predator: Life and Death #1.
In the original release of the first Predator series, it is clear that the story is supposed to be set in the near future — similar to the film Predator 2, which was loosely based on concepts from the comic series. Evidence of this can be seen in the introductory narration by Detective Rasche, during which he refers to the year 1991 in the past tense (stating that it was hotter than it had been "back in '91"). However, with the release of the sequel series, Predator: Cold War, the date of the original incident was changed, as events in Cold War are said to take place in 1990, while the events of the first comic are said to have taken place "five months ago" and "last year", placing them in 1989, contemporary to the publication of the original comic book. This change in date was solidified in reprints and new collections of Concrete Jungle, which change the year mentioned in Rasche's narration to 1987 (incidentally, the year the original Predator film was set).
In an interview with the website AvP2Daily, Warner said the first Predator comics series "absolutely" had some influence on the film Predator 2: "The basic plots of the film and comic series are almost identical. When Dark Horse created the first Predator series, plans for a Predator sequel had stalled, since Arnold Schwarzenegger had declined being in it. The series showed how you could use other characters in the lead. Probably the first time that a comics series actually had an effect on the film franchise that inspired it," said Warner.