Certain things you wouldn’t ponder combining, not because you don’t think they’d go together, simply that the thought never crossed your mind. Yet, when two things do come together in your mind, you want to slap your forehead and go “of course!.”
That’s how I felt after reading Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens; of course!
The hyper vigilant violence that inhabits Judge Dredd’s world slips seamlessly with the cleverly orchestrated violence caused by Predator and the ultra gruesome violence wrought by Aliens.
Judge Dredd is uncompromising in his quest for justice; a faceless figure that represents an incorruptible idea of justice against a backdrop of wasteland sick with corruption and crime. Meanwhile you have Predator, an alien warrior who has but one mission to hunt, kill, and collect a token of its win. But Predators don’t just go after anyone, only the most challenging of prey and who better than the Judges?
This is where I had to stop and go, of course!
One of the things I’ve loved about the evolving Predator mythos over the years is the developing moral code. One that isn’t based on classic morals, but a warrior’s honor. One of my favorite scenes in the Predator movies was in Alien vs Predator where the Predator works with the lone survivor of her exhibition team, and once she proves herself he gifts her with a marking of honor custom of his people.
Little things like this have made the Predator a more interesting antagonist over the years. Instead of just a fearsome, mindless alien killer, it rounds out the alien and its origins more. They do have a code, just one that doesn’t follow conventional human means.
Much like the Judges of Dredd’s world have a code that brings up an interesting moral contrast with our own world’s moral system.
The book doesn’t drive too deeply into those aspects of each individual characters mythos, but long-time fans of both series are sure to pick up on it. Instead the story is pretty straight-forward, with a Predator having found themselves in the heart of Mega-City One, home of Judge Dredd himself, on a mission to hunt down his latest prey. The Judges.
The violence is typical of both the Judge Dredd and Predator series. Blood, people being ripped apart, lasers blasting, and a gruesome image of a head and spine trophy.
There’s a nice callback to the original movie featuring psychic consultant Schaefer the great-great-granddaughter of Dutch Schaefer (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). The complexity of the Predator does come into play at the end through Schaefer which I also personally enjoyed. I adore clever allusions especially in adaptations or crossovers.
The final battle between Predator and Judge Dredd builds up from beginning to end so the final climax is really worth something in the end.
As much as I love Predator for the aspects of the complex, remorseless alien hunter, I’ve always been more of an Alien fan. Ripley is my hero, and the Aliens are one of the best monsters ever to be invented.
Their grotesque appearance and nature combined with their weaponized bodies and power make them the perfect enemies of the Judges as a whole. In Predator, the battle felt much more internal, a battle of honor and strength between Dredd and Predator.
With the Aliens, it’s an all-out war between the Judges and the Aliens. Creatures who impregnate their victims with embryos that shoot out of their chest cavities ripping them apart from the inside out. There’s a personal element here as there was with the Predator story, but less so on Dredd himself as a solo figure and more on his fellow Judges, the city of Mega-One, a team of verminators, and his rookie subordinate Sanchaz.
The battle between the Judges is higher in intensity as their opponent now is an entire horde of acid-bleeding, super strong, alien creatures harboring in the burnt out bowels of New York City.
I enjoyed the side-story of the verminators that mirrored similar aspects of the original Alien movies. It’s always fun to watch characters be confronted with the ferocity of the Alien creatures from the first chest birthing moment to the last sizzle of acid melting skin.
Another aspect of these stories is the prevalence of women and people of color. I have always enjoyed these aspects in both the Alien and Predator movies (though its a prevalence that has waned over the years), and it has always been relatively prevalent in the Dredd series. These two crossovers are no exception.
You see women Judges, black Judges; Sanchaz is afro-latina, and her development as a rookie coping with what is probably one of the greatest killing machines in the universe alongside tough-as-nails veteran Judge Dredd was a real joy to read.
I enjoyed the art for both stories, but the colors used by Chris Blythe in the Aliens book are especially pleasing. I felt artist Herny Flint really captured the grotesque-ness of the Aliens. Martin Emond may have created one of my favorite variants of all time. The way the Predator’s mouth opens like a door daring Dredd to enter. His face shrouded in shadows as the fangs of the beast are about to pounce on his head. Oh, I got shivers from that image. It fit perfectly with the power both characters have as well as emphasizing the animalistic appearance of the Predator with the blindness of the Judges brand of justice.
Another notable chapter break was done by Henry Flint. A brilliantly colored picture that was very reminiscent of the original Alien vs Predator movie cover.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed both titles. They were a nicely balanced blend of science-fiction and horror. Which is exactly what I want to be reading around this time of the year. I typically enjoy popping in one of my Alien movies or checking out what Netflix has to offer in the way of horror movies so this read slipped very nicely into the routine.
Both crossovers just work, which is a testament to the teams that worked on them. It would have been easy to create something campy, or out of place, instead they produced two enjoyable stories that fit together seamlessly.