Predator: Dark River is a four-issue limited comic book series that was first published by Dark Horse Comics from July-October 1996. The series was written by Mark Verheiden, pencilled by Ron Randall, inked by Rick Magyar, colored by John Hanan III, Steve Mattsson and David Nestelle, lettered by Steve Dutro, and edited by Philip Amara and Bob Cooper, with cover art by Miran Kim. The comic follows Detective John Schaefer as he returns to the site of the first Predator film to try and find answers as to what happened to his brother Dutch.

The series is one of the few Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comic books to serve as a direct sequel to an earlier story. Specifically, it features the return of Detective Schaefer (brother of Predator hero Alan "Dutch" Schaefer) and Major General Homer Philips, both of whom had previously featured in the comics Predator: Concrete Jungle and Predator: Cold War.

In Dark Horse's Predator comics line, Predator: Dark River was preceded by Dark Horse Classics - Predator: Jungle Tales, published concurrently with Predator: 1718, and was followed by Predator: Strange Roux.

Publisher's Summary[]

#1: Schaefer joined the NYPD to "serve and protect." It's a bug in his blood or a chip in his brain. But as bad as things get in the drug-infested concrete jungle there's something worse out there, something that really needs stopping. The last time Schaefer faced it down was three years ago, in Russia. Now he's got another chance to stop that evil. He's heading down to the jungles of South America, and he'll come back with the head of a Predator... or he won't come back at all.

#2: Detective Schaefer has traded the concrete jungle of New York for the sweaty hell of its South American counterpart. He's on a mission to find his missing brother, but he's going to be hard pressed to do that. Someone is luring Shaefer into an inevitable confrontation with a Predator. One that he's faced before. One that he thought he killed. One that wants revenge.

#3: Though Predators are natural-born killers, one theory suggests they have a code of honor. Leave it to NYPD Detective Schaefer to find a Predator that doesn't share that theory. Deep in the heart of South America, Schaefer is hunting for a piece of his past — his lost brother Dutch — while another piece of his past — a Predator he thought long dead — stalks him through the dense, sweltering jungle. And when they finally lock horns, the "dark river" will run red!

#4: Detective Schaefer has been having bizarre nightmares of a nasty-looking, seven-foot-tall, alien headhunter. One big problem: Schaefer is wide awake. And though he's been hardened by the atrocities he's experienced as a NYC cop, it won't prepare him for his fateful, savage confrontation with the Predator he thought he'd destroyed years ago. Now his search for his brother Dutch may end with no answers, more questions, and a lot more bloodshed.


On October 10th, 1995, Schaefer was involved in a drug bust with new partner Detective Brad whom he is not particularly fond of. One of the cartel members who Schaefer arrested, Mercer, attests that he has information to Dutch's whereabouts. He says he was approached in a local South American shantytown, by General Philips, who was in need of a pilot. It is revealed that he was the pilot that rescued Dutch following his battle with the Jungle Hunter. He says Dutch was rescued but gravely infected with an alien disease. Philips ultimately decided to abandon Dutch and left him in the same jungle where he had retrieved him. John subsequently takes the pilot hostage and leaves the police station, branded a fugitive by his fellow officers for doing so.

Meanwhile, in South America, a military group of several men and one woman posing as a documentary crew encounter a Predator that starts a characteristic slaughter of the crew. Uncharacteristically, the Predator attacks unarmed targets and is accompanied by an indigenous tribe who also attack the crew, then calmly watch as the Predator slaughters the woman (one of them even filming the bloodbath with a stolen camcorder). A military regiment arrives later, accompanied by a local woman named Lopez acting as a guide. They find the site of the massacre and the woman's skinned corpse, sending the camcorder away. The Predator then ambushes the regiment and kills them all, with Lopez escaping as the sole survivor.

Upon arrival, Schaffer and Mercer are apprehended by the local warlord, who refers to himself as El Presidente. He shows Schaffer footage of the Predator's massacre of the crew, deducing that the natives accompanying the Predator worship it. Upon seeing its face and the wound on its torso, Schaffer recognizes the Yautja as the Predator he'd thought he killed in his last visit to South America. John is then introduced to the captive Lopez and reunited with an also captured Mercer. John, Mercer and Lopez have electronic trackers fastened around their ankles, as El Presidente states that if they try to escape or avoid his task of killing The Devil, he'll have his soldiers hunt them down and kill them.

El Presidente has an armed convoy take them to the area of the last known sighting of Devil. But they convoy is attacked by Devil enroute, and the three escape and hide in the jungle. Reaching the river, they spot a military boat crewed by pirates come ashore nearby. Lopez says they should capture the boat, and while John and Mercer argue Lopez approaches, distracting the pirates with sex appeal and feigned vulnerability. As the beguiled crew approach to take Lopez, she and John attack, killing some of the pirates and taking the boat, and Mercer takes them helm and pilots them down the river.

Schafers becomes suspicious of Mercer's story as his clumsy handling of the boat makes his claim of being a pilot dubious. But before he can get answers that night, Devil attacked the boat, immediately going for Schafer. The two brawled, with John brutally ravaged by his old enemy. During the fight Mercer is captured by the Predator's worshippers and taken away. Before Devil could kill John, Lopez fired a flare into the Predator's face, causing it to howl in pain and fire its Plasmacaster in every direction and hit the boat's ammunition stores. The resulting explosion destroyed the boat and flung John, Lopez and The Devil into the river. All survived with John and Lopez swimming away from the Devil and getting swept down a waterfall. After Schaefer and Lopez climb ashore and rest, a fighter jet flies past, fires several shots near them and airdrops a package. The package contains a warning note from El Presidente; based on their trackers, he's figured they've abandoned their mission, and orders them to regroup with Mercer and complete the job, or the next jet's fly-by will kill them.

Shortly after Schaefer and Lopez are ambushed by the Predator's worshippers, who manage to hit John with a poisoned arrow. Though the two escape over another waterfall, Schaefer gets weaker from the poison and is treated by Lopez. Amazed at her compassion for him, Schaefer loses consciousness due to the treatment and soon after Lopez was kidnapped by the natives. Schaefer recovered that night, realized Lopez's absence and went to find her. Hearing loud chanting, he followed it and eventually found the natives' camp in time to witness Devil enacting a ghastly ritual with them. A bull, a jaguar and Mercer are staked to the ground, having been brutally tortured and mutilated; the bull almost cut in half, the jaguar with its eyes gouged out and Mercer having both legs cut off. Kept barely alive through their wounds being cauterized, the Predator approached each and mimiced their cries.

Dutch snuck in and tried to rescue Mercer. Almost delirious from pain and blood loss, Mercer elaborated on his torture, then begged for help and confessed the truth. Mercer was no pilot and never met Dutch; he was just there to bait John into yet another encounter with a Predator. The Devil caught them during Mercer's pleas, killing Mercer and engaging John. The natives tried to aid Devil until John tricks the Predator into shooting a cauldron of poison with his plasmacaster, the explosion and toxic deluge killing the tribe. He eventually knocks John into a hut where the latter finds Lopez, bound but unharmed.

The Devil attacks John again and gets the upper hand, knocking his tracker off in the process. As The Devil starts slicing John's chest open with his wristblades Lopez, now free, shoots The Devil with a pistol, downing him and rescuing John. But the wounds aren't enough to slay the Yautja, who gets to his feet as John and Lopez escape. Hiding in the scrub, John shoots off Lopez's tracker and reveals that he'd put his own tracker on Devil as they flee, which would cause El Presidente to launch an attack on the target. Right on cue, before Devil could give chase, one of El Presidente's fighter jets emerged. With the tracker now on the hunter, the crew mistook it for John, firing on Devil with machine guns and finishing the job by dropping a missile onto the creature, leveling the village and killing it.

John and Lopez find a fishing trawler and get a lift back to civilization. Lopez expresses an interest in studying Americans to John, though her flirtatious tone towards him shows her real interest. Back in North America, General Philips is playing a game of golf. While looking for his ball, he's confronted by John and Lopez, who hold him at gunpoint. John, fed up with Philips' machinations, took him into a nearby forest to threaten him into divulging the location of his brother, Dutch.

Reprint History[]

Predator: Dark River was eventually collected as part of Predator Omnibus: Volume 1 in August 2007.

The complete comic was released digitally through Dark Horse Digital on February 6, 2013, reusing Miran Kim's cover art from issue 2.

The series was collected again as part of the oversized hardcover Predator 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series trade paperback, alongside the related stories Predator: Concrete Jungle and Predator: Cold War. The collection was released in June 2017 (to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the film Predator).

The series was collected and released again as part of Predator: The Essential Comics Volume 1, released on December 12, 2018.

Marvel Comics[]

Following Marvel Comics' acquisition of the rights to Predator comic books, the comic was collected as part of Marvel's Predator: The Original Years Omnibus Volume 1 collection, alongside many other early Dark Horse stories. The collection was released on December 27, 2022.

Behind the Scenes[]

Dark River is the third in a trilogy of stories featuring Detective Shaefer, which began with Predator: Concrete Jungle and continued with Predator: Cold War. These three comics are now referred to as the "core Dark Horse Predator graphic novels" by the publisher.[1]

Writer Mark Verheiden also penned the other two stories in the Schaefer trilogy. Considered a hugely influential figure in the Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comics lines, Verheiden also wrote 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.

Artist Ron Randall also contributed artwork to each of the three miniseries in Verheiden's Predator trilogy. For the original 1989 comic, he was assisted by Chris Warner, but Randall handled the two sequel series by himself.


  • Unlike the other two comic series featuring Detective Schaefer, Dark River was never adapted as a novel.
  • Those who have seen the first Predator film will know that Mercer's story is false from the start for various reasons. Mainly because there was no sign of an alien disease, and Mercer says only he was put in isolation for the supposed disease despite everyone on the chopper being supposedly exposed.
  • Unlike most indigenous tribes, the tribe that worshipped the Predator consisted entirely of adult men. Most likely this was either a cult of those who chose to follow that Predator, or women and children were deliberately left out by the writers to try and lessen the impact when John later gets the entire tribe killed in self-defense (John himself lampshades how humanitarian groups might respond to the deaths when it happens).


Issue covers[]