|"Hunters" links here. For the species, see Yautja (Predator).|
Predator: Hunters is a five-issue limited comic book series published by Dark Horse Comics from May-September 2017. It was also published simultaneously in the digital format via Dark Horse Digital. It was written by Chris Warner, illustrated, inked and colored by Francisco Ruiz Velasco, lettered by Michael Heisler and edited by Kevin Burkhalter, Freddye Miller and Randy Stradley, with cover art by Doug Wheatley. Velasco also provided variant covers for the series.
The comic is one of the few Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comic books to serve as a direct sequel to earlier stories. Specifically, it features the return of both Enoch Nakai from Predator: Big Game and Mandy Graves from Predator: Bad Blood.
In the Predator comics line, Predator: Hunters is preceded by Predator: Life and Death, and was followed by Predator 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series.
The primary setting in Predator: Hunters is an isolated, privately owned archipelago in the South Pacific populated by the descendants of an eccentric 19th-century merchant and his employees. Into this tropical paradise comes a purported oceanographic expedition that is, in truth, a cover for a much more lethal mission. But the remote islands hold their own secrets.
Predator: Hunters marks the return of several characters from earlier stories to turn the tables on the latest earthbound hunt, specifically Enoch Nakai, the Navajo soldier from Predator: Big Game, and Mandy Graves, the lone survivor of a black-ops team who tracked and fought a Predator in the New Jersey Pine Barrens in Predator: Bad Blood.
#1: Space aliens have been coming to Earth for centuries — but not with any message of brotherhood or peace. They're here to hunt the toughest, most dangerous humans they can find. Only now their former prey have teamed up against them. Predators, watch your backs!
#2: Two privately owned islands in the South Pacific. One an idyllic paradise overseen by a benevolent doctor, the other a jungle hell where monsters rule. The Predator hunters have come looking for big game, but it's the traps you never expect that will kill you...
#3: Contact! The assault team encounters the Predator at night on the tropical island! First blood goes to the alien hunter, but ten-to-one odds and machine guns favor the humans... unless there's something about their quarry they don't know!
#4: A warm tropical night, a lush island setting, and death on all sides! The team of human hunters is looking for a single Predator when they find out the hard way that there are four of the monsters lurking about. Yet, unbelievably, that's not the worst of their problems!
#5: The members of Hunter team — all survivors of previous Predator encounters — split up to take on a surprising number of threats as Dr. Bunting's island paradise gives up its horrifying secrets. The battle will turn on the last Predator standing.
On a remote island, three stranded survivors are desperately running through a jungle, escaping from an unknown force. One of them is suddenly caught by a snare and decapitated. The remaining two retreat to a cliff-edge with nowhere to run. A monstrous tribal-looking Predator emerges from within the jungle, preparing to kill them. One of the survivors attempts to attack the Yautja with his machete but is swiftly decapitated with its own blade. The other is thrown off of the cliff-edge by him, but not before the last survivor tears off a few dreadlocks.
In present day, ex-soldier Enoch Nakai from the previous story Predator: Big Game is now working at a faraway gas station. He is later approached by a group of individuals; Jaya Soames, Tyler Swain and Raphael Herrera, who want to recruit him to their secret team dedicated to hunting Yautja themselves. After recalling the events of his encounter with a Predator, as well as showing the three the display of a Predator corpse, Nakai begrudgingly accepts Jaya's offer and hitches a ride in their car.
During the trip, the three reveal their past affiliations with the hunters; Raphael was a member of the DEA whom, during an investigation into drug trafficking, encountered a Predator. Raphael was able to eventually kill the hunter, at the expense of ruining his organization and losing his family. Tyler reveals that he was a soldier working for a private contractor in Afghanistan shipping supplies. After a Taliban ambush, Tyler is hit by a mortar and is knocked out. When he reawakens, he sees a Predator, collecting trophies from both sides. Tyler was too incapacitated by his wounds to do anything. Finally, Jaya reveals that she is the descendant of Captain Edward Soames who had killed a Predator during the 19th century. After his efforts, he returned to India where he would serve under Maharajas, tasked with hunting "man-killing tigers". This tradition of hunting Yautja was passed down three generations, with Jaya being the next to take up the mantle.
Ex-CIA member and sole-survivor of a slaughter at the hands of a Bad Blood Predator, Mandy Graves is later recruited into the squad during their voyage on a ship disguised as a scientific research vessel to the remote island of Kehua, next to the inhabited island Amelia. During briefing, Jaya recalls the story of three survivors that became stranded on Kehuah after their fishing vessel drifts off course due to a storm. They are later captured by a Predator and kept in a makeshift prison for several days before eventually being released for it to hunt them for sport. After killing two survivors, the final one jumps from a cliff-edge and falls into the ocean, before tearing a dreadlock from the hunter and returning to the raft that had arrived in, preferring to take his chances out at sea. After several days, he is finally picked up by a passing vessel in which he tells the vessel's captain his story. Though Nakai is unsure of the accuracy of the story, Jaya pulls out the dreadlock that the survivor had torn off of the hunter. Jaya explains to the group that the islands were settled by wealthy but eccentric New Zealander businessman Malcom Bunting who's descendant Dr Henry Bunting is the current steward. Jaya wants to visit the island in hopes of killing a suspected Predator roaming the area.
Because of Nakai's skepticism with the operation, Jaya shows him a special weapon wall full of Yautja weaponry and equipment. She explains to Nakai that the equipment has been analyzed in hopes of developing "countermeasures" against the hunters, specifically special goggles that see them in active camo.
Upon arrival of island Amelia, Jaya, Nakai, Raphael and Swain are all greeted by the inhabitants, with Henry Bunting personally welcoming them.
Meanwhile, within the depths of the jungle, the tribal-Predator hunts and kills a wild boar. After devouring it back at his camp, he throws some meat to his prisoner, trapped within a cage.
During nightfall, Jaya and her team send two drones to Kehua for recon. Once exploring the jungle, the two drones encounter a shrine-like object with human skulls. The drones retreat back to the boat, as the tribal-Predator observes them from a distance.
The next day, the group are having a feast with Henry Bunting. After Jaya details the motives behind the groups 'research', Bunting explains that his great-grandfather was dissatisfied with the destruction of the natural world and sought refuge by developing a resourceful society in Amelia. However, he was also apparently quite a sportsman and aspired to set up his own hunting reserve importing numerous creatures, most of which didn't survive. Kehua has been left untouched for many years.
As the group leaves for the vessel, they are waved goodbye by Bunting and other members. A female servant is also seen saying her goodbyes to Jaya, before she suddenly whispers in her ears for Jaya to come back and take her away.
After Jaya is shown the footage that the drones captured, she orders to ready the strike team.
The group gear-up and head to Kehua by speedboat. Upon arrival, they begin their mission and explore the jungle, with Nakai scaring himself by encountering a tiger. The group are suddenly ambushed by the Predator, with it spearing one of the soldiers through the chest and slicing another with it's blade. The team open-fire as it retreats and manage to gravely injure it. As it continues to try to run away, Raphael finishes it by shooting it in the head. Raphael goes on to identify that this Predator was unlike previous ones, as it was primitive and used no technology.
The group then find the hunter's malnourished prisoner. They free him and Raphael re-insures the prisoner that they killed its captor. The prisoner responds with "It? what do you mean it? There are three more of them!"
Raphael informs Jaya that there is more than one Predators present on Kehua and requests for further instructions.
The group are suddenly ambushed by the remaining three Predators. As the rest retreat, Swain is ordered to stay behind to help Herrera catch up and escape with the group, but Swain buckles down under-pressure and retreats.
Mandy separates from the group to find Swain and Herrera, only to meet with Swain who tells her Herrera is gone. Mandy ignores Swain and tells him to "go to hell". Mandy later becomes face to face with one of the hunters, takes out a combat knife and challenges it. Her challenge is quickly interrupted by Nakai, who throws a grenade at the creature. Mandy objects, citing that she has to die as Nakai drags her back to the speedboats.
Meanwhile, Herrera has been strung up upside down by the three hunters. After Herrera cusses to them in Spanish, one of the Predators slices off his ear and adds it to it's necklace of other victims ears.
After the group retreat from the island back to the ship, Mandy is furious that Swain left Herrera and attacks him, with Swain responding with a barrage of insults. Jaya confronts Swain and asks what Mandy is talking about. Swain said he didn't see Herrera, but witnessed one of his comrades being killed by a Predator, the Predator then gazed right at him, causing Swain to freeze and retreat. He then opens up to Jaya that he lied about being unconscious back in Afghanistan. Instead, he hid from the Predator's sight as it slaughtered the rest of his team, he supposedly had a clear sight of the creature but was too scared to do anything.
Nakai comforts Mandy who is sulking in the interior of the ship, she tells Nakai that she wishes to die, wanting to join her team that was previously slaughtered at the hands of the Bad Blood. Nakai tells her that he sometimes wonders why he didn't die with his squad too, but he believes that he was sparred for a reason; to kill every last hunter he finds.
On top, the hunter's prisoner begins anxiously asking Jaya if they can leave. Things get heated and Jaya tells him that the people of Amelia need their protection from the hunters. The prisoner responds with "What are you talking about? Don't you understand? This is their show!"
In the distance, several canoes filled with people in Predator-like attire approach the ship.
Henry Bunting announces that they've surrounded the group and has his men board the ship and seize the crew. Jaya, Nakai, Swain and Graves are taken prisoner back to Kehua as Bunting informs them that he's planned a ceremony for them; a tradition for uninvited guests.
Bunting details that whilst his grandfather was in the process of establishing a colony in Amelia, him and his people noticed a shooting star that crash landed into the oceans. Eventually, the star had contained a minimum of seven Predators, who had barely escaped with their lives, being washed up on Amelia However, it was not long before they began slaughtering the islands inhabitants. In response, Malcom and his people banded together and began hunting the hunters, waging their own war against the "exiles". As the fighting dragged on, the people of Amelia had become hardened and begun to develop an intense blood-lust and relished the hunt. After killing three exiles and capturing the remaining four. Malcom had them transported to Kehua and released them there, where they would give them game imported from other countries to hunt. Soon, the people of Amelia began seeing the exiles as "teachers" and sought to imitate their ways. Unwanted trespassers in the region eventually became game for Bunting and his people to hunt, and this is what he intends to do with Jaya's crew.
Once landing on the sands of Kehua, the islanders give the group a machete each and a few minutes to run off into the jungle. Bunting leaves them with a word of advice: "Don't be hunted. Be the hunter."
Meanwhile, the exiled Predators are giving a funeral for their fellow Yautja, honoring it's death. They soon begin to hear the islander's whoops and yells and prepare for the hunt, with one Predator reluctant to leave his fallen comrade.
During a chase, Jaya suggests that the group split up, otherwise they will be slaughtered in unison by the psychotic inhabitants of Amelia, everyone complies and take different paths.
Mandy is later found by two islanders and kills both of them. Nakai also manages to ambush three elsewhere before hearing footsteps nearby. Jaya runs from multiple islanders until she is eventually caught at a dead end. Having no choice, she puts up a fight until she is intercepted by her opponent and prepares to take a finishing blow. An exile suddenly emerges from the jungle and slaughters the remaining islanders, saving Jaya's life. Jaya prepares for a fight, but instead of attacking her it spares her and gestures for her to go. Jaya quickly takes her leave. Jaya suddenly encounters an islander, but she reveals herself to be the servant from before and introduces herself as Artemis, telling her that she has a boat.
Jaya and Artemis take the small boat back to the ship where Artemis is able to distract a guard whilst Jaya finds the weapons room. Artemis stabs the guard and Jaya shoots another whilst holding the rest at gunpoint, effectively taking back the vessel and freeing the crew. As Jaya's crewmembers prepare a helicopter back to Kehua, Jaya gears up and takes a sag bag with her.
Jaya flies back to Kehua and opens fire on Bunting and the islanders. Though Bunting tries to get up, he notices Mandy brandishing her machete and reminding him of his advice.
Meanwhile Nakai is being chased by the two exiles and is eventually driven to a cliff-edge. As Nakai prepares for a last stand, Swain suddenly emerges, overcoming his fears and spears an exile through the stomach, sending the Predator falling down the cliff. Jaya soon arrives as backup and guns down the second exile. Nakai and Swain get onto the helicopter, with Mandy complimenting Swain's "little star turn". The third exile soon appears and although Mandy is ready to finish it off with her machine-gun, Jaya stops her and says "we'd all be dead if it weren't for him". Jaya cites that he was the islander's prisoner just like they were, and that he "deserves a little dignity at long last". She throws her sag bag at the exile as the group takes leave on the chopper. Jaya asks Nakai how he feels, with Nakai responding with "alive".
The last remaining exile opens the bag Jaya had given to him, revealing that it contained modern Yautja-gear. It puts the gear on and actives the gears Wrist Gauntlet, clenching his fist into the air as his gauntlet begins beeping excessively.
Predator: Hunters was collected and released as a trade paperback on January 24, 2018. The collected edition reuses Doug Wheatley's cover artwork from issue 1.
Behind the scenes
Covers in this series feature special fluorescent ink.
Predator: Hunters marks the return of several characters from earlier comic book stories:
- Enoch Nakai is the Navajo soldier from Predator: Big Game, who was also featured in Predator: Blood on Two-Witch Mesa.
- Mandy Graves is the lone survivor of a black-ops team who tracked and fought the Bad Blood Predator in the New Jersey Pine Barrens in Predator: Bad Blood.
- Jaya Soames is the great granddaughter of Captain Edward Soames, who appeared in Predator: Nemesis.
- This comic is notable as being one of the only Predator stories to depict human characters from previous stories, with existing, detailed knowledge about Predators, who specifically set out to hunt the alien species together.
- Unlike the variant covers that all accurately depict the Predators in the comic, the issue covers showcase differently designed Predators that look very dissimilar to the actual individuals shown in the comics, with a possible female Predator even being shown on the front cover of issue #4.
- A visible inconsistency is shown in issue 1 when Nakai, in a short flashback is seen holding the Predator's head with both arms. This is inconsistent to the events of Big Game, as Nakai had greatly wounded his right arm during the confrontation and was forced to put it in a makeshift sling.