Books that I own and you should too.
Are you unfamiliar with perhaps the greatest cross-over event to grace comic-bookdom? If you answered “Why yes, I do know the Crisis on Infinite Earths,” guess again, nerd! And don’t even mention Civil War. My issues with Mister Millar will have to wait for another post. No, nothing on quite so grand or cosmic a scale. A suspense story, a mystery, a primal hunt between man and nightmare. This story is a piece of there’s-no-way-this-obvious-money-grab-isn’t-shit gold. I am, of course, talking about Batman versus Predator.
I’ve always liked the Predator movies, though Predators was a little to self-indulgent. Whenever I watched the first film, I imagined that Arnold’s crew was a rehash of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. Schwarzeneger was even attached to play Rock in a scrapped film project, and in the end credits, Shane Black’s character is seen reading a copy of a Sgt. Rock comic-book. Coincidence? I think not. Suddenly, that movie is Easy Company vs. the Alien Head-Hunter! Sweet. And then, of course, Predator II is about Danny Glover’s character from Lethal Weapon. He even says the line “I’m too old for this shit!” It only makes sense to pair off a superhero with the beast.
To grasp how head-bangingly awesome this match-up is, dear reader, you must understand the Predator. Sure, you’ve seen the movies, but you probably have three basic assumptions about the Predator:
1. He won’t kill you if you are unarmed.
2. He is a trophy hunter that kills for sport
3. He is really, really big.
Now, these are mostly correct assumptions. But not entirely. Well, yes, he is big. Really big. But, the Predator kills threats, with or without weapons. A person without a weapon can still be a target for a Predator because they represent a different sort of threat or prize. The targets in BvP are high-rolling mobsters, men with power and influence. They don’t need weapons to be alphas, so they make for valid and innovative prey. Predators are individuals, just like humans, and each of them have their own hunting methods. They are here for thrills. They hunt in war-zones, ghettos, or no-man’s lands. Adversity is their hunting-buddy. They are personifications of violence. Their hunting is also more sophisticated than simple game-hunting. It’s a culture that has been co-existing with humans for millenia. They taught us how to build, language, and were the basis for our god myths. According to this logic, the Proto-Indo-European dragonslayer myths are retellings of Alien vs. Predator. For all we know, the Predators could be cultivating humans, raising them over the generations to be more and more advanced, and more adept at fighting. Their trips onto earth could be seen as culling, hunting the weak to let the stronger survive.
Our Predator in BvP is methodical, calculating, and psychological mastermind. He doesn’t just run around flaying people, he kills with purpose. The Predators are a highly advanced space-faring alien race. There’s no way they could do what they do without also being extremely intelligent. In Gotham at the time there are two warring gang leaders, Alex Yeager and Leonard Brodin. Turns out, the Predator had watched Yojimbo at some point. He starts a gang war between the two by killing Yeager’s prize-fighter. Why? To simply stir up the hornet’s nest. A thrill seeker like him needs some action! A cool device the writers use with this Predator to make him more of a horror film slasher is he watches TV and listens to the radio. For some reason, I find that terrifying. It shows how smart this bastard is. He drops down into Gotham simply to wage his own little war on the city. Bad. Ass.
Naturally Batman doesn’t gel well with flayed and splattered people, even gangsters. The two fight in a junkyard and Bats gets a nasty case of tetanus… after he cut open like a filet by the hunter. The Predator renews his killing spree, now taking out public officials. He even tries to kill Commissioner Gordon! That’s the final straw for Batman. Seriously, don’t mess with the Bat-crew. Bad call. Instantly recovering from his stab wounds, Bats show the Predator exactly why you never let Batman have a round 2. Batman whips up every silver bullet imaginable. Neurotoxins engineered for the Predators metabolism, radar enhanced senses, Bat-armor, pit-traps, and adamantine steel cages. All of these, plus the greatest weapon of all: the Louisville Slugger. No Predator can withstand the power of America’s favorite pastime.
This book is also great for the little things. This Predator is particularly sadistic and, at one point, simply tears a cat apart. No real reason. Just ‘cuz. Seeing Batman cave in the monster’s skull with a baseball bat is a real treat. Alfred really steps up to the plate in the final showdown, too, blasting the Predator down all 300 of the Batcave’s stairs with no less than a blunderbuss.
And, proving once again that he is incapable of generating his own content, Paul W. S. Anderson ripped off this book for his AvP movie by using the “Hunter’s moon” line. Stay Classy, Paul. That aside, This book is a masterpiece, The art is Eisner-Award winning and the story is really solid. The Predator has great characterization and isn’t just some mook. Watching Batman learn the rules of engagement with the beast is a lot of fun. There is also a small gallery in the back of my collected copy that has images of the two fighters by Frank Miller, Time Sale, Mike Mignola, and Joe Kubert, the legendary father of the book’s artist brothers and the creator of Sgt. Rock! I can completely imagine the Predator in hunting Sgt. Rock. DC, make that book happen!
Zane Reichert is a dashing young rogue with far too many opinions on topics far too few care about.