The original Aliens vs. Predator comic book miniseries by Dark Horse Comics. The idea came about when some Dark Horse comics creative types were sitting around, talking about other comics companies doing "versus" titles to boost sales, and started brainstorming their own "versus" title. Suggestions got increasingly ridiculous, before someone finally said "Alien versus Predator," and everyone looked at each other, shocked that it hadn't been the first thing they thought of. Not only was the pairing completely natural, but Dark Horse Comics already had the license to print comics for both the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise (at the time, only consisting of the original movie.) Fox licensing was all over the idea, a writer and artist was attached, and it was full-steam ahead.
The story is set nominally in the Aliens universe, with a far-flung future with space travel and distant human colonies, and a corrupt corporation overseeing almost everything. In this universe, the small planet Ryushi is just exiting its "first phase" of colonization, preparing to deliver their first roundup of rynth (something like a cross between a cow and rhinoceros) to a Company freighter. Because the first phase is ending, the previous colony administrator is leaving, and a new boss, Machiko Noguchi, is taking over. She's initially cold and distant, trying to run the colony tight and by-the-book, but is finding her approach is not earning her respect from the rough-and-tumble colonists.
Meanwhile, a Predator ship is racing through space towards a hunt. On board, a captive Alien Queen lays eggs for the Predators to "seed" on their chosen worlds so they can hunt them some Aliens. A screening process prevents eggs which contain facehuggers with Queen larvae from entering the mix, but Queen isn't a fan of having her eggs incinerated right in front of her, and manages to push the screening drone off course. Thus, one of the facehuggers on this hunt will impregnate someone with a Queen. And of course, the world chosen for this hunt is the dry, hot, arid, desert world of Ryushi, the Predators either being unaware of or not caring that there will be humans around who might screw up their hunt.
It doesn't take long for things to go completely pear-shaped. The facehuggers infect the rynth of one of the settlers' herds, and he covers up that his rynth might be infected with something so he doesn't loose money on the roundup. The infected rynth are loaded aboard the freighter Lecter, where the aliens hatch and get the two pilots. The freighter is docked in the middle of the colony, meaning the aliens can come barging out at any time to attack the colonists, and the Predators have to go through the humans to get to their prey. And the colony's doctor, intrigued by the facehugger the rancher's assistant gave him, heads to the totally wrong spot to look for them, encounters the Predators, and accidentally puts the hunt's leader in a coma, leaving a large group of effectively unruly teenage Predators on a world with humans and Aliens with no adult supervision. The colonists have to fight for their lives against the Aliens and the Predators, the Aliens have to try and fight off the Predators while attacking humans to build their hive, and the young, inexperienced, more-balls-than-brains Predators have to try and take on an entire Alien hive and some badly overwhelmed but extremely pissed-off human colonists. Needless to say, Hilarity Ensues.
This first story set the stage for all other Aliens vs. Predator stories to come, and is actually a pretty fine piece of comic book writing in and of itself. Several more comics series followed. The comic story itself was adapted into a novel by Stephen Perry, entitled Aliens vs. Predator: Prey.
This comic includes examples of:
- Action Girl: Machiko Noguchi. She doesn't start off action at first, but it's firmly established well before everything goes to shit that she has the chops for it.
- Action Prologue: Played With. Fox wanted one "Aliens" story and one "Predator" story to proceed the first "Versus" story. So one issue focuses on the Alien Queen (held captive by Predators, though no actual Predators appear in the issue), and the next shows a bunch of Predators fighting over potential hunting grounds, before we finally see Predators actually (successfully) hunting Aliens, to create a contrast for how dramatically the hunt in the main story is about to go awry. These first three issues (chapters in collected editions) feature basically narration by Conover and Strandberg debating the merits and flaws of humanity's high-tech, corporate lifestyle, the nature of manifest destiny, and so on. While there's plenty of action in two of the three prologues, there's also a lot of non-Fauxlosophic Narration counterpointing it.
- Adaptational Heroism: The Predator leader, Broken Tusk, is a very noble character, even kind (for a Predator, at least). Notably, this is the first story in which Predators and humans team-up against a bigger threat, and Broken Tusk treats Machiko with respect and honor, even marking her as a member of his Clan. Other Predators may choose not to kill humans, but few will actively ally with them, or go so far as "adopting" them.
- Adaptational Sexuality: In the comic, Jame Roth is a Small Role, Big Impact character who really only has two or three scenes (she isn't even given a first name). In the novel, her role is expanded greatly, including adding even-more-bit-character Cathy as her Happily Married spouse.
- Adaptational Villainy: To counterpoint the example of Broken Tusk, we have every single other Predator in the story. They kill pretty much indiscriminately, without regard to victims who are unarmed, children, etc. Once Broken Tusk figures out what they've been up to, he seems to pretty much wash his hands of them.
- Armor Is Useless: Averted with the Predators. Despite them not typically wearing much armor in their other appearances, here they wear what looks like full plate armor, made from xenomorph exoskeletons, to protect them from acid blood spatter. Played straight with Machiko's armored vest, which does precisely nothing to protect her (not unlike the Marines' armor in Aliens.)
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Discussed in the second, Predator-centric prologue. Tom Strandberg advances the idea with his copilot, Scott Conover, and Scott starts deconstructing it. Tom points out that human political infighting is Not So Different. And of course, the discussion is counterpointed by showing the Predators operating on literal Asskicking Equals Authority.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Machiko Noguchi is the highest-ranked corporate executive on Ryushi, and quite the Action Girl. Also, when Machiko first sees Broken Tusk leap into battle against the Aliens, she assumes she's about to see a replay of all the other Predators who leapt headfirst into glorious slaughter, only to get overwhelmed and butchered by the Aliens' superior numbers. But she doesn't realize he's the eldest Predator, the master of this particular hunt, and the rank-and-file Aliens pose zero threat to him.
- Big Damn Heroes: Subverted. When Machiko first walks unaware into the Alien hive in the Lecter, she kills only a handful of them before her gun runs dry. Just as they're about to swarm her, a Predator blows the head off one Alien with a laser gun, before leaping into battle against his foes. The subversion is that the Predator wasn't acting to save Machiko, he just wanted to kill a bunch of Aliens, grab some nice trophies, etc., and the Aliens quickly swarm and slaughter him. Then subverted again when Machiko leaves the Predator to his fate.Machiko: I learned a long time ago. . . never align yourself with a loser.
- Played straight when the injured Broken Tusk acts to save Dr. Miriam Revna from one of his wayward hunters.
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: This series posits that facehuggers which carry Queen embryos have spines on their back.
- Blinded by the Light: Broken Tusk has this reaction when Dr. Revna is driving towards him on a hover bike, shading his eyes from the vehicle's headlights, causing the bike to plow into him and put him in a coma (and the bike to ricochet into the Predator ship, destroying it and royally pissing off the remaining Predators). Nevermind that Predators see in infrared, so headlights shouldn't bother them in the slightest.
- The Cavalry Arrives Late: As soon as the realize they have two hostile sets of XTs closing in on them, the colony sends a distress signal requesting Colonial Marines to help deal with the problem. The Company holds this cavalry back because they want to know more about the assorted aliens, ordering Machiko to take steps to preserve all specimens. Machiko is disinclined to acquiesce to their request.
- Chekhov's Gun: Prosperity Wells' communications tower. Machiko and Mr. Shimura climb it early in the story to watch the Lecter land, and Machiko notes the "300 pound" weight limit and doubts it can support both of them. Later, Broken Tusk is trying to fight his way clear of several Aliens on the ladder of the tower, and it starts giving way beneath their combined weight. Machiko crashing the copter into it (see Hellish Copter) finishes the colony's ability to talk to anyone not within walkie-talkie range.
- Colony Drop: Machiko wipes out the hive (and the colony) by dropping the Lecter's orbiting abbatoir down on it. Unfortunately, the only transmitter she can use to contact the barge is on the Lecter, which the Aliens have turned into their hive.
- Contrived Coincidence: Roth finds a bunch of Ackland's rynth sick, with dead facehuggers scattered around Beriki Canyon. Ackland tells Roth to take the things to Dr. Revna, but tell him she found them in Iwa Gorge. Revna goes to Iwa Gorge to look for more of them. Guess where the Predators decided to land their ship?
- Defrosting Ice Queen: A non-romantic example. Machiko is initially a tough, no-nonsense, by-the-book Company woman, but is growing frustrated that her approach with the colonists and Company staff isn't bringing her the results she wanted. She takes Hirkoi's advice to loosen up and "get some rynth shit between her toes." She makes some surprising inroads with colonists and staff. . . in the day before all hell breaks loose.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Since this was before Alien³, it hadn't yet been revealed that Aliens take some structural information from their hosts. Thus, all the Aliens, no matter what critter from what planet they hatch from, all look like the Warriors from Aliens.
- Enemy Mine: Machiko and Broken Tusk must team up to take out the Alien hive, as it's already grown far to big for either of them to deal with alone.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: The first real attack by the Predators against the colonists is the outlying Sheldon family, whose dog detects the cloaked Predator and goes after it. The dog doesn't fare well.
- Hellish Copter: The helicopter-type-thing Machiko takes to try and escape Prosperity Wells ends up like this. Granted, it was mostly because she didn't know how to fly the thing in the first place before attempting an extremely tricky maneuver. Interference from a xenomorph didn't help matters any, either.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Several.
- Hiroki Shimura and a few other colonists hold off the attacking Predators long enough for the colonists to get the doors sealed from Aliens and Predators.
- Conover gets a Redemption Equals Death moment when he gives Machiko everything she needs to pull off her plan, before she kills him because of the chestburster within.
- Broken Tusk goes out like a badass fending off the Queen long enough for Machiko to not only finish her plan but eject them in Lector's escape pod.
- Quite a few Red Shirt Predators pull unintentional ones, leaping into glorious battle against hordes of Aliens (bypassing Machiko in the process) only be overwhelmed and killed.
- I Choose to Stay: After the dust clears, the Company abandons the colony, shipping the colonists off to other worlds and reallocating the staff. They buy out Machiko's contract (essentially firing her for costing them the colony all the Alien and Predator specimens they wanted), and offer to set her up somewhere else to live out her life. She chooses to remain on Ryushi, both because it's become the only place she can think of as "home" after all she'd gone through there. . . and because she knows, sooner or later, Broken Tusk's people will be back, and she feels they deserve an explanation for what happened to him. And because, with his mark, she just might get a chance to live the Predator lifestyle.
- Insistent Terminology: Meta example. In the novelization, Jame Roth and Cathie are referred to as "spouse," not "wife."
- Jerkass: Conover. He's rather abrasive at the best of times, and when he's drunk, comes on to Machiko way to strong, and won't take "no" for an answer, causing her to throw him across the room. Also, Ackland, for being an arrogant, self-centered tool who basically lets the whole mess happen in the first place.
- Named by the Adaptation: Because "Weyland-Yutani" hadn't been revealed on-screen by that point (all references to the Company's name in Aliens wound up in deleted scenes), Dark Horse names the Company "Chigusa." Once Weyland-Yutani was officially canonized, Dark Horse retconned Chigusa into their less-successful competitor.
- Off with His Head!: Machiko kills the Queen like this using the door of the Lector's escape pod.
- Preserve Your Gays: In the novelization, Jame Roth and her spouse Cathie are among the few survivors at the end.
- The freighter Lecter, obviously, to Hannibal Lector.
- Ryushi is a desert planet in a binary starsystem with a truly remarkable sunset.
- She's Got Legs: In Machiko's singular instance of Fanservice, she's woken up wearing only a baseball shirt.
- Shown Their Work: A minor example, but Broken Tusk wanders out into the courtyard of the colony, and sees the other Predators engaged in a pitch battle with no one. Broken Tusk adjusts the settings on his mask, and suddenly the Aliens become visible to him. Aliens established the xenomorphs don't show up in infrared, which is what the Predators naturally see in.
- Single-Biome Planet: Ryushi is a desert. Played With, in that Machiko's narration says that while she'd always considered it a featureless brown wasteland, once she gets out in it, she realizes how much natural variation and beauty there is there.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Roth. She works for Ackland, whose rynth have been infected by the facehuggers. Ackland doesn't want to risk his rynth (and thus, his money) being tied up in quarantine, so he tells Roth to tell Dr. Revna that she found the specimens in a completely different place, which just happens to be where the Predators landed their ship. Revna ends up accidentally blowing up the ship and knocking the Predator leader, Broken Tusk, into a coma, which leaves the rest of the adolescent Predators to their own devices.
- Villain Decay: The Aliens' one arguably starts here. While they're still very formidable, it's only in fairly large groups. The young, inexperienced Predators easily slaughter bunches of them, but there are always more. Machiko's handgun also punches really big holes in them with little effort, when an Alien was seen to No-Sell Gorman's pistol shots in Aliens. Maybe Ryushi is dangerous enough (before the Predators and Aliens get there) that you need pistols that can cut xenomorphs in half as a sidearm?
- Waif-Fu: Whatever martial art Machiko studied, she's good enough at it to hurl a grown man half again her size across the room, upside down. Granted, he was extremely drunk at the time, but still.
- Would Hurt a Child: The adolescent Predators, bereft of Broken Tusk's leadership, gleefully attack unarmed colonists (though their code normally prevents this), even trying to kill a young boy after they've murdered his family.