Oni. Rakshasa. Yautjas. The highly intelligent alien race that has been visiting our planet for eons is known best as the Predator. Ever since their film debut alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987, the space-travelling bipeds have achieved success in film, novels and comic books. I’ve made no secret that Dark Horse’s Predator storylines are what drew me into comic book collecting back in the early 1990’s. It was Predator: Race War that became my first exposure into the print foray of the dreaded hunters. When fellow WSB writer Thor Magnusson suggested I come up with a “Top 10 Predator Stories of All Time,” I thought, “Brilliant idea! It’ll be a sinch!” Yeah right. There was a big gap in my comic book reading over the years as I stopped somewhere around ’93 and started up again in 2008. That’s a good decade and a half of Predator creativity that I missed out on. Thank the stars for Dark Horse’s sense to release the collections of the quadruple-tusked tough guys, in the form of Predator Omnibus (currently at 4 volumes).
Since December of last year, I’ve worked diligently to cover a lot of Predator ground and read every Predator comic book out there that I could get my hands on. Well, let me put an asterisk by that. I decided not to include any Aliens vs. Predator stories here for the simple reason that there is enough content under the AVP titles for another top ten list. The cosmic hunters have faced a barrage of other worthy opponents over the years in the pages of Predator vs. Magnus: Robot Fighter (not too shabby) to Superman vs. Predator (disappointing). So what stories made the list and what takes the cake as numero uno? Without further delay, I give you The Top 10 Predator Comics of All Time:
#10: Tarzan vs. Predator: At The Earth’s Core – Truly an engrossing comic book read, Tarzan vs. Predator was one of the best stories that contained the Predator race. In the end, however, I cannot bring myself to put this one higher on the list purely on the reason that this is not necessarily a Predator story. It’s a Tarzan story that happened to have Predators in it. A more accurate title would be Tarzan vs. The Lizard People That Hypnotize Everyone. Again, this read comes highly recommended but the Predators become such secondary players in this game of cat and mouse that they ultimately end up in the backseat. If you took the Predator relation out of the equation, the writing and plot of this story exceeds most of what is on the list you are about to read, thus warranting a higher placement.
#9: Hell Come A Walkin’ – Focusing on a pivotal point in American history, this story takes place during the War Between the States. Deadlocked in a standoff, a small group of Confederates trade shots with an equally sized band of Yanks. While the soldiers speak of war stories amongst their respective sides, a Predator is attracted to the conflict and starts picking off members of the warring factions, one by one.
#8: Cold War – Serving as a sequel to Concrete Jungle, we once again follow the gritty path of Detective Schaefer as he continues to search for information on what happened to his brother. This time, he ends up leading a team of Americans in the frigid tundra of Siberia and comes in contact with a band of not-so-merry Ruskies. When the female Russian commander begins to question her own allegiances, she turns to Schaefer to stop the Predator threat from killing even more of her countrymen. The art is dated and the storytelling gets a little tedious at times, but its overall content is enough to secure its place on the list.
#7: Xenogenesis – With its vivid coloring and smooth lines, Xenogenesis paired its art with a story of deceit, honor, and greed. Set in a future of enhanced soldiers, even the humans’ best technology is still of little concern to the Predators’ superior toys. Admiral John Dancer of the Royal Navy directs a super task force known as Spearhead, but where his intentions lie are questioned by those he’s in charge of. Armed to the teeth and possessing cat-like agility, the team has been studying the tactics and behavior of Predators for years in hopes of dominating the spear-bearing beasts.
#6: Batman vs. Predator III – Though the first sequel may have not made this list, its follow-up did. BVPIII threw Robin into the fray along with long-standing super villain, Mr. Freeze. While it may seem like a hokey collage at first glance, rest assured that the story was sturdy and smartly assembled. With the Predators reaching Bruce Wayne’s last nerve, he intends to drive home the point that the alien hunters are not to return again to Batman’s stomping grounds.
#5: Nemesis – From India to Her Majesty’s United Kingdom, a dreaded Yautjas soon lays claim to London as its new hunting ground. Set in the late summer of 1896, we follow the dark journey of Captain Edward Soames as his steps over cobblestone road bring his keen mind to discover one clue after another. It all relates to the grim reaper tallying a body count in the capital of England. With a little help from a secret society, Soames aims to lure out the mystery that’s been killing his comrades.
#4: Captive – Albeit a short read, this story wastes no time in getting straight to the point. At some moment in the not so distant future, an enviro-dome facility manned by humans, some rather cyborg-esque, monitor the behavior of a captured Predator. The blood hits the fan when an overzealous man-in-charge sends in the troops to pick up what he thinks is the lifeless body of his alien prisoner. Predators aren’t all brawn. They’re resourceful bastards as well.
#3: Batman vs. Predator – The best crossover of the lot, Batman faces one of his most worthy opponents of all time. The Caped Crusader nearly encounters death as an alien hunter begins his hunting jaunt with some of Gotham’s most notorious criminals and champions and later moves on to more challenging prey that included one very wealthy vigilante. With a little technological prowess of his own, Batman intends to level the playing field. This title was so successful it went on to produce two sequels.
#2: Bad Blood – Who said paintball isn’t lethal? In one of the highest toe tag tallies in the genre, Bad Blood put a twist on things as it introduced a rogue Predator that did not adhere to the same tribal standards maintained by his brethren. The blood-thirsty outlaw turns out to be a serial killer of his own race and crash-lands in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Chased by other Predators and the CIA, the rogue enters a mass game of paintball and proceeds to lay waste to one competitor after another.
#1: Concrete Jungle – Although sometimes obnoxiously colored, Concrete Jungle brought forth a very solid story as it tied in NYPD Detective Schaefer to his brother Dutch and the almighty Predator race. Yup, that’s right, the same Dutch that Schwarzenegger played over twenty years ago. In Concrete Jungle, we get a little backstory on the aftermath of the first Predator movie and Detective Schaefer’s struggle to find the whereabouts of Dutch while coming face to face with the race hunting the city he was sworn to protect. The writing, courtesy of Mark Verheiden, was simply riveting as readers are taken from the streets of New York City to the jungles of South America in what turned out to be one of the more lengthy Predator stories told.
1718 – This very brief but entertaining tale offered background on the black powder pistol handed to Danny Glover at the end of Predator 2. The gun was engraved with the year ‘1718’ and the name ‘Rafael Andolini’. Writer Henry Gillroy penned the script for this early 18th century story that shows a Predator hunting down a band of mutiny-bound sea farers.
Predator vs. Judge Dredd – While Judge Dredd is no longer one of the more popular characters in the DC universe, he did contribute to an entertaining 3-part series against his thermal vision foe. Assassinating judges from afar and out of sight, the Predator claimed trophy after trophy until one roughed-up and very unhappy Dredd catches up to the hunter.
…And there you have it. With another movie on the horizon slated for this July (Predators) and another round of Predator titles from Dark Horse creeping into store shelves around the globe, it is obvious that the content and want for Predator is endless. Perhaps this list will be due for a revision in the future based on that upcoming material, but for now, I recommend any of the four Predator Omnibus collections to harness the spirit of the invisible hunter from beyond.
Make sure to pick up the below titles and get your Predator on!