A few years back, I wrote for the Blumhouse website. It had been a while since I’d actually been paid to write about horror. I’d snuck as much of the genre into ToyFare when I had that kind of sway and done a few things for CBR before it turned into a soulless machine, but that was a minute ago, as the kids say. So, writing for Blumouse — which covered the whole genre, not just the films of that particular company — was a lot of fun. I did a piece on cool Predator merch and another on great Alien comics to check out.
I was even in the process of pitching a story about great horror-super hero crossovers when the whole site went sideways. Around then, I bought DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics: Justice League Volume 1. This was part of a series of books DC and DH were putting out at the time collecting their various crossovers over the years. Now, I’m going through them for the spooky season!
There’s a lot of great material to mine in this book, as well as the other DC/Dark Horse book I have on my shelf, but today I’m going to talk about the 2000 three issue Superman Vs. Predator miniseries from 2000 by David Michelinie and Alex Maleev. Feel free to argue with me about whether you think the Predator series is more of a sci-fi/action story than a horror one, but I fall on the horror side of things in this argument. For what it’s worth, I won’t be talking about the Superman/Terminator crossover included in this same volume as part of Halloween Scene. What’s the difference between a murderous alien and murderous robots from the future? I dunno, but one is a horror franchise to me and the other’s all sci-fi.
The funny thing about my argument is that this isn’t really a horror story, but it’s part of a (to me) horror franchise, so there we are. In this one, a group of scientists happen upon a Predator ship, but they’re not the first ones. Another research group nearby has decided to use a piece of the alien ship to create a eugenics machine. When Superman, Lois Lane and another Predator get involved in the action, all bets are off. Oh, but this isn’t Superman at full power. He’s caught a virus from the first ship that’s sapping him of his powers, which makes the whole endeavor a lot more challenging for the Man of Steel.
Here’s the thing about this series: it’s too long. We probably would have been perfectly paced with a two issue tale. As it is, it felt like there was way too much air in the proceedings. Maybe it’s all fascinating if you’ve never heard a mad scientist blab on about killing off the “genetically inferior” to benefit the greater good or seen a scientist give in to their curiosity about a procedure over basic morality, this will be mind-blowig. And I don’t want to denigrate that experience. I came up in the 90s and learned all sorts of story structures and tropes from comics that a lot of people would look down on. I’m just say that, for me, this one felt a bit too long.
Plus, let’s be honest, do you really want to see sick Superman fighting a Predator? This feels like the end of Iron Man where you get low-power Iron Man fighting half-armored Iron Monger. I love that movie, but that ending is far less epic than it should have been. I get the argument for going this route, but why not have an army of Predators focusing on Superman? Or have him on another planet? Or any number of other ideas? For what it’s worth, these inter-company crossovers can be a huge pain to orchestrate. Add in the fact that you have a comic book character interacting with a movie studio property and the hurdles you have to jump through increase exponentially. I have no distinct insight into this story itself, but that is something to keep in mind.
So, yeah, Superman vs. Predator is definitely too long and it might be too hand-holdy depending on what else you’ve read, but it does have some great stuff to it too. For one thing, you get a passel of pages jam-packed with Alex Maleev drawing jungles, space ships, Superman, Lois Lane (the G.O.A.T.), scientists, ruins and, obviously, a Predator! That right there makes up for some of the boring bits of this story as well as the fact that you’re not seeing one alien take on another in an all-out battle.
Should you read this story? Hmm, that’s a bit of a tough one. Can you get it on the cheap? If so, sure! Do you have this particular trade? Then, yeah, definitely. Otherwise? To quote an iconic horror phrase, enter at your own risk.