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SBTU – Expanded Universe: Aliens and Predator

sbtu_expanded_universe_aliens_and_predator_header

It’s Super-Blog Team-Up time again!

This time around, the group is tackling the notion of the "Expanded Universe"–with many different topics, as always!

Please check out the list of links at the bottom of this piece for the other entries in this team-up of blog-posts…or skip on down their now, as my piece here is rather lengthy, rambly, and not exactly what I’d had in mind when I began!

With a big thanks to Chris Bailey (@Charlton_Hero) for the graphic below:

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In recent years, the terms "Extended Universe" and "Expanded Universe" have meant a couple different things to me. They also tie in to the term "Cinematic Universe," in terms of movies. Namely, the Marvel "Cinematic Universe" and the DC "Extended Universe." (Or "Expanded," I’m rarely clear on what’s (semi-)"official" with the "MCU" and "DCEU.") I’ve never liked the "EU" in reference to the DC movies when used alongside Marvel‘s "MCU," because to me it should be "DCU" same as we have the "DCAU" (DC Animated Universe) and such.

What? I’m getting critical and negative and that’s DC and Marvel when you’re expecting Aliens and Predators?

Ok.

Outside the aforementioned DC and Marvel movies, I see the terms Expanded Universe and Extended Universe as fairly interchangeable/synonymous and I don’t expect to be 100% consistent in my use throughout this piece. (So please take them as interchangeable and synonymous within my writing here.)

DEFINING "EXPANDED UNIVERSE"

To me, an EU is a property that begins in a fairly-specifically limited (if not one-off) format. For example: you have an original movie (singular)…it universe-builds, it sets a context, it tells you a story…and that’s that. Beginning, middle, end. In and out and done. Look at The Terminator, before any sequels. Or Highlander, before any sequels. And so on.

Perhaps we don’t start with a movie…perhaps we start with a novel. Emphasis on "a." Singular. You get this self-contained story, and that’s that. The whoooooole thing is that one book. It’s a good book, an enjoyable book, a memorable book…but still AAAAAAAA book. (For example: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay)

Where "EU" comes in is with that singular thing cropping up in another medium with new content sharing elements from the original…building on or (you guessed it!) expanding and extending what was found in the original. The Terminator got a movie sequel as well as comics. Then other comics, even a tv series, along with multiple sequels. Highlander had sequels, a tv series, original novels, an animated series, comics, etc. Kavalier and Clay had Escapist comics, and a comic sequel of sorts (The Escapists) where present-day creators got the rights to the old Escapist character and the story followed their journey. I’m not sure if there’s a tv show in the works, but it’d certainly be ripe for an HBO miniseries or such at the least, which would be further expanding.


In today’s case, I’d figured I’d look at Aliens. But that really necessitates bringing Predator into the conversation. Both properties started as singular films…got a sequel…were continued into comics, then video games, further sequels, novels and novelizations, more videogames, toys, and so on. Both universes expanded and intermingled, even sharing universes ahead of more famous and/or contrived attempts at cinematic shared universes that would follow.

As I’ve tried to figure out how I want to cover this, I finally decided that there are Wiki articles out there that’ll tell you plenty about the properties and the expanded stuff. (Alien, Predator, Prometheus, and so on.)

But this being a personal blog, maintained by me (just one random guy)…why not my personal journey into the franchises? After all…it’s what I know. Recounting stuff is from my own memory, my own experiences, and it’s ME. You want clinical facts about the properties? Use those Wikipedia links. If you’re willing to indulge my rambling on the topic, you’ll get my conscious experience, my conscious memories of Alien(s) and Predator that began with Alien3 and expanded to where I am today.

And if you’re still with me some 500+ words into this thing…here’s where we get more to the point.

PROLOGUE

As a kid, I loved to read, and read every chance I could, and would read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. So much so that I’d read many books within a day, and was constantly getting books from the library (and losing many, which is a topic for some other time). I especially remember stuff like The Boxcar Children and The Hardy Boys Casefiles (I’ve yet to read original Hardy Boys stuff…the Casefiles series had the characters a bit older and more action-oriented. Again, a topic for some other time). I’d read plenty of fiction–most I can’t even remember. I also read a fair bit of sci-fi from early-on before I truly knew what a "genre" was. I also read plenty of comic books and whatever comic-related prose I could get my hands on. I recently was fondly recalling high school and how much time I’d squeeze in for reading, especially freshman year–from reading on the bus to/from school to reading in homeroom, squeezing in a minute or two of reading between classes when able; reading at lunch, reading in study hall (preferring to read than work on homework).

Somewhere in the earliest days of middle school, perhaps, I’d read Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of Alien as just any other sci-fi novel and nothing about it really stuck out to me at the time. Separately, Dad had fallen asleep with the tv on and I’d wandered out–at this point I remember it as during the day, but could have been late at night; I’m not really sure. What matters is, I was curious about what was going on in whatever was on, and I wound up watching to its end, whatever it was. The horrors I saw included some monster ripping a guy in half (and he bled white instead of red!) as well as the lady fighting the monster and saving her daughter.

I wouldn’t make the connection on these–That they were Alien and Aliens–until I finally saw the films intentionally.

THE BEGINNING

alien3_bookSome time in 1993 or 1994, I ended up finding/reading the novelization of Alien3. Having read this book that was clearly based on a movie, I wanted to see said movie, and eventually convinced my parents to rent it/let me see it. Then, since that was the 3rd film, of course I "had to" see the others. I vaguely recall there being some delay to getting to see Alien and that I wound up seeing the films in reverse order, that Alien was the big finish for me.

It was in finally seeing Alien that I recognized the story–particularly the scene with Kane exploring the pit of eggs–and realized I’d read the book some time before.

I’m not sure if I have yet ever re-read that novelization; if I did, I know I haven’t in the last 20+ years! I just recently–June 2020–learned via a YouTube video purporting to reveal X # of "things you didn’t know about ALIEN" that the creature itself was apparently kept secret from all…including Foster, who wrote the novel of the film! So in possibly-faulty memory and that new "fact learned," I could see not immediately having linked that novel(ization) with the film by title and such…there probably was not a detailed enough description of the creature itself to lock in my memory initially. And, as said earlier in this piece, at the time I was a voracious reader and wouldn’t begin to be able to recall by title everything I’ve read. (It took me ages a few years ago to finally discover an old sci-fi novel I’d enjoyed as a kid, that I’d thought was called The Manhattan Project but turned out to be The Manhattan Transfer). hero_illustrated_002_predator_came_with_ashcanI have other "mini-memories" of "moments" from books I’d read that I’m certain I’d ONLY be able to positively link to their source by somehow managing to find AND re-read in near-entirety the same novel(s) again.

I very clearly remember a cover to a magazine–Hero Illustrated–that featured a Predator cover, the creature fighting a bunch of Aliens. The issue had come with an "ashcan" for a then-upcoming or recently-begun series involving both the Aliens and the Predator.

Somewhere around this time, I came across Aliens: Earth Hive by Steve Perry. I read it, and it fascinated me. I recall–among many other things–noticing some parallels in a couple of the main characters…particularly Billie and Wilks. Their story seemed similar to that of ALIENS. This eventually wound up making perfect sense when I learned that in the original comics, these WERE Hicks and Newt!

aliens_novels_trilogy

One of the key things I took away from the movie novelizations was that sense that if even ONE Alien made it to Earth, that was it. It could not be allowed to happen, or that’d be the end. And with no Ripley, the story of Earth Hive played out where that happened–the Aliens overran Earth.

A second novel picked up from there, following Wilks and Billie to a space station where some guy thought he was training Aliens to help him take back the Earth. By the third novel, Ripley had come back into the picture and led the characters to a distant world to catch a super-queen, possibly the source of the Aliens. They ultimately got it to Earth where they left it in a valley to draw the majority of Earth’s infestation to it at which point bombs put on a months-long timer would go off and eradicate the majority of the creatures. One of the subplots of The Female War involved us coming to find out that Ripley is herself a "synthetic," though she initially did not know that (Someone not knowing they were synthetic was established as possible in the first novel of the ‘trilogy’ in Bueller). As Ripley had died in Alien3 and yet appeared here, that seemed a reasonable explanation to me. As I think about it now, that was probably one of my earliest real experiences with a "retcon" or "retroactive continuity."

aliens_on_top_of_shelves

Somewhere in that mid-’90s time, I came across some Aliens toys at a store while out with Mom; if it was not Kmart, I have no conscious idea what store it was, as I know it was not Hills, and I don’t think Target or Walmart were in this part of Ohio yet. While possibly just deja-vu, I’d also swear I’d seen at least one commercial for these toys around then. Regardless, despite finding these toys, Mom was unwilling to let me get any of them; so it’d be a good 20-some years until I’d start my foray into Aliens toys. Despite not getting any of the toys as current things, I do recall noticing later that I’d seen them, and realizing there were several toy lines for kids that were based on "kid-ified" animated things, themselves based on hard R-rated films! (Several examples offhand including the likes of Terminator, Robocop, Highlander, Toxic Avenger, and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes…and I’m sure there are plenty of others I’m not thinking of!).

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I was vaguely aware that there were comic books with the Aliens as well as another creature–the Predator. There was that August-1993-cover-dated Hero Illustrated #2 (see earlier image) featuring a Predator on the cover and the issue having come bagged with a mini-comic featuring Aliens/Predator: The Deadliest of the Species–a then-new series beginning soon.

aliens_predator_deadliest_002s

Flipping through that issue and not finding any prominent article on either property–but a bit of info about the comics and an ad for the home version of an Aliens vs. Predator videogame–I suspect it was just a "given" to me that Aliens went with Predator. Add to that an arcade machine at the local skating rink and I just don’t think I really ever took the properties as being completely separate things. (Much likeStar Trek: Generations was my main intro into Star Trek and to me there’s never been an either/or on TOS vs. TNG–they’ve "always" been a single continuity).

I’m pretty sure my first experience with Aliens in comics was the Superman vs. Aliens prestige-format mini-series. I was already deeply into the Superman comics at the time, and loved that even as a random inter-company crossover, the miniseries seemed to have consequences on the Superman side at least, including giving us an in-continuity Argo City or such and a "Kara."

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Despite always simply accepting Predator and Alien(s) as existing in the same universe, I was never all that into the Predator side in and of itself. I have some memory of a friend describing a scene from Predator in which the titular character had skinned someone (and that you saw the skinned body on screen) from awhile before seeing the film myself. I’m pretty sure I saw the films–Predator and Predator 2–prior to college, but I’m not absolutely sure. They never stuck with me quite the same way (especially Predator 2 that I hardly remember except knowing that I saw it at least once). Predator came back a bit to me during grad school and has stuck with me since for some of the cheesey "Arnold stuff" (particularly the "Get to the CHOPPAH!" line).

By the time I saw the films, I’d read at least two Aliens vs. Predator novels. I was most interested in them for being Aliens stories; that they were Aliens vs. Predator/included Predators was incidental to me at the time.

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As pertains to our topic at hand…they continued to EXPAND the universe, to me.

SETTLING IN AND MOVING FORWARD

By the time Alien Resurrection came out in late 1997, I was pretty well steeped in stuff. I was very disappointed in the film, though, for jumping some 200(?) years into the future after Alien3 rather than using the Ripley-as-Synthetic plot point from the books. While I still didn’t take it as such at the time, I now (in 2020) realize that was my first real experience with the difference between "the films" and an "Expanded Universe." Great stories from the books that had expanded my knowledge and understanding and the appeal of the property to me…but they weren’t even acknowledged by the movies!

During college, much of my "main" reading of a "universe" had gone to Magic: The Gathering, as well as continuing with Dragonlance from the mid-’90s and Aliens had kind of fallen off for me.

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alien_novelizations_oldBut then in 2004 while I was working the overnight stocking shift at Meijer (think a Walmart/Target hybrid) when I was browsing the books section, I came across a novelization of AVP…there was a new movie, this time featuring the Aliens AND Predator(s) in one film! I bought the book immediately…though to this day, I don’t actually recall if I ever got around to reading it. Those few months working overnights were part of an interesting period of my life as I struggled to make sense of being out of college and yet still being absolutely clueless about what life was supposed to be. As with many things…a topic for some other time.

I remember the makers of Heroclix giving us a new game–Horrorclix–and the line included several things with Aliens and Predators with the AVP branding. Though interested–in particular to have Aliens in scale with Superman–I never got any (and a June 2020 internet search shows them as being well outside any reasonable price range for me now!)

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In 2005 or so, DH Press (DH for Dark Horse as in the comics publisher) began publishing new Aliens and Predator novels. I was thrilled to get new Aliens novels (though sadly, I passed on the Predator ones at the time, and those are absolutely stupid-ridiculous prices online now in 2020, which is highly frustrating). I suspect this was probably around the time that I finally made the connection or otherwise learned that Earth Hive, Nightmare Asylum, The Female War, Genocide, and so on–those novels I loved as a "kid" that really got me into the property(ies)–were novelIZATIONS. Of Dark Horse comics.

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In 2007 I learned that Dark Horse Comics would be publishing a collection of some of those original comics. A friend actually gifted that volume to me; and thus, I got to read the comics version of the stories I remembered reading as novels. That year also brought the second AVP film, Requiem.

2009 or so brought some new Aliens and Predator comics, led off by a shared Free Comic Book Day issue.

2010 brought AVP: Three World War which once again had the creatures in one series. That year also brought us a new Predator film that took a cue from Aliens and simply added the "s" to pluralize the title: Predators.

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2012 brought the film Prometheus. I recall seeing a movie poster for it, at the theater I frequented in Kent; as well as a couple different trailers for the film. Rumor had it that the film would somehow tie in with Alien or be a "prequel" or some such. It was also when I think I consciously began to recognize Ridley Scott as a specific name, as well. That said, once I saw the film myself, I was NOT particularly impressed by it the first time through…but it’s grown on me on repeat viewings.

In 2014, Dark Horse gave us a huge "event" of sorts…a massive-seeming story involving four different 4-issue mini-series that linked into an overall story: Fire and Stone. This encompassed a Prometheus series, a Predator series, an AVP series, and an Aliens series. Each 4-issue mini-series was technically its own thing, but with a larger story to be gleaned by reading all the minis and a one-shot that followed.

There were also new novels from Titan; though they were branded on the Alien (singular) name rather than Aliens plural…which has always felt a bit "odd" to me, though admittedly distinctive, if only to be separate from the plural branding of the Dark Horse stuff. Alien: Out of the Shadows, Alien: Sea of Sorrows, and Alien: River of Pain kicked things off.

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2015 brought us Aliens/Vampirella which marked the first time I’d ever bought anything Vampirella.

2016 brought a lot of new material. Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens; another 4-series event in Life and Death (Prometheus/Predator/Aliens/AVP); The Rage War (new novels, each branded under Predator, Alien, and Alien vs. Predator, respectively, from Titan). Along with the multi-series Life and Death event, we also got the start of one of the largest series for the Aliens comics in Defiance; matched in length (I believe) only by the 13-issue Colonial Marines story in the ’90s and the 12-issue Aliens/Predator: The Deadliest of the Species by Christopher Claremont in 1993-1995).

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2017 gave us the first new "solo" Alien film in 20 years with Alien: Covenant as a follow-up to Prometheus and again by Ridley Scott

2018 gave us a new Predator film with The Predator.

There were also a couple of anthologies of short stories published–Bug Hunt for the Alien franchise, If It Bleeds for the Predator franchise.

There have also been several more comics mini-series for both franchises over the last couple years.

IN THE END

What started out as just another sci-fi/random book for me in the early 1990s "expanded" as I discovered the expandING universe of Aliens/Predator. One novelization…(actually three novelizations in the end). Multiple original novels. More movies. Comics. Toys. Videogames. Audiobooks.

Alien and Predator seem to be things that originally "ought" to have begun and ended with their original singular-titled films. But they expanded into larger universes with books, toys, videogames expanding stuff. They blended, further expanding both franchises’ scope.

Both of the "shared universe" films AVP and AVP: Requiem were out before Iron Man–the first film of Marvel’s "Cinematic Universe"–saw release.

Even though this post took on a different shape than what I think I must’ve thought or planned it to…my own personal collection has expanded quite a bit in the last few weeks as I’ve made a point of tracking down other collected volumes I didn’t have, and a definite focus on single issues.

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I’m learning of comics I didn’t even know existed for either property, both singularly and as crossovers.

I look forward to some imminent expanding of my firsthand knowledge of Predator comics in reading single issues as well as a couple of collected volumes of recent minis. I plan to finally read the original Aliens vs. Predator mini-series…and several weeks ago spent a lot of time finally reading Aliens/Predator: The Deadliest of the Species. I’d known THAT was a 12-issue series begun in 1993. Though I did not realize it took two years to get all 12 issues out and that it wrapped in 1995. I remember the initial marketing for the first issue in 1993, but not much beyond that.

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I also neglected to get into much about the toys other than their existence in the ’90s. THOSE were the Kenner toys and included a bunch of different types of aliens, based on various hosts. A gorilla alien, a rhino alien, a snake alien, a scorpion alien, etc. In recent years, NECA has been producing a bunch of high-quality "adult collectible" figures based on the Aliens stuff–movies, comics, etc–and same for Predator.

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Lanard has even gotten in on the toys with some basic figures for kids. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover these back at the beginning of 2020!

My personal Aliens library is one of the more significant subcollections of my overall collection, particularly as toys, graphic novels, and novels.

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As it stands now, the Aliens and Predator comics have become a key "focus" for me, boosting my collection and pulling various comics together from the scattered abyss that is the bulk of my comics collection at present. With this eventual post in mind, and amidst boosting the collection, I acquired and read Aliens/Predator: The Deadliest of the Species as well as re-reading the original trilogy of Aliens mini-series; I have a collected volume of the original mini, and single issues for the 2nd and third. I also decided somewhere amidst it all that I’m interested in the various books, even in multiple editions…where I’d once thought to merely "upgrade" or keep to a single edition.

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I also have several volumes set to come eventually but they haven’t been shipped…apparently being held up (as of this writing) by Archie vs. Predator and Archie vs. Predator II.

Though I’d already long realized this stuff was important to me, it’s been interesting recalling just how much so that is, as well as how much more I’ve yet to track down and actually read!

THE END (FOR NOW)

I’m never good at ending these huge, lengthy posts. And even in this final typing, I keep thinking of stuff to add or that I forgot to get into/go over…and eventually a writing project like this just has to be put to bed.

I welcome any comments, thoughts, shared stories, etc. relating to what I’ve shared above. It’s possible that I’ll do some posts in the future covering individual issues or minis as I get to reading them…but I’ve got some other projects that’ve been on the back burner for awhile that are ahead in the queue, so who knows.

If you’ve made it this far, I do thank you for your patience and indulgence.

And I encourage you to check out the rest of the Super-Blog Team-Up by considering any of the links below!


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Super-Blog Team-Up: Expanded Universe

Super-Hero Satellite: M.A.S.K.: The Road To Revolution

Between The Pages Blog: Fantastic Forgotten Star Wars Characters
Comics Comics Comics – The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones
Comic Reviews By Walt: SBTU – Expanded Universe: Aliens and Predator
Dave’s Comic Heroes Blog: Logan’s Run Marvel Movie Adaptation
The Telltale Mind: Archie Andrews – Superstar
Radulich In Broadcasting: Flash Gordon Universe
The Source Material Comics Podcast: TMNT/Ghostbusters
Unspoken Issues: Mad-Dog (Marvel Comics, 1992)
Bronze Age Babies: Seven Decades of Apes-mania, and We’re Afflicted!
Echoes from the Satellite – Tales from the Forbidden Zone – The Pacing Place
Black & White and Bronze Comics – Beast on the Planet of the Apes Review
The Daily Rios – Little Shop of Horrors
Lost N Comics Youtube – Expanding the Medium: Motion/Audio Comics
Pop Culture Retrorama: The Phantom Universe
Cavalcade of Awesome – Jumper Universe
MichaelMay.Online: Treasure Island Universe
DC In The 80s: The TSR Universe

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The Alien/Predator Shelves as of 2/8/2020

I posted a couple weeks ago about discovering the Alien Collection toys from Lanard.

I had not initially bought the APC vehicle, but did wind up going back for that. I also purchased a $10 MegaConstrux egg thing shaped like an Alien egg that came with a packet of slime/ooze with pieces to build two "minifigure" Xenomorphs.

I also came across a couple online listings for classic Kenner Aliens figures, and got a "regular-sized" Alien Queen as well as a Gorilla Alien and a Bull Alien.

All together, my once rather sparse shelf filled up fast to the point of nearly overflowing. Such that I may end up moving the Predators off just to have a little more room for the Aliens…but time will tell!

Anyway, though I’ve shown off the collection in the past, here’s the most up-to-date version of my Aliens/Predator shelves!

aliens_collection_february08a

The figures and such get the top of the shelving unit for the maximum amount of space and to accommodate the rather large size of the Queens.

While I’m pretty sure I’m missing a couple books, I do at least have most of the Alien/Aliens line of novels, and most of the Predator ones, though I’m missing the Dark Hors Press (DH Press) novels as well as the most recent anthology and film adaptations.

Though for the moment Mage Knight and MechWarrior: Dark Age still share the shelf…a major MW acquisition last year means that series is going to have to get its own space…which will also allow a little more space for the Alien/Aliens books and such.

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The graphic novels have their own space on a different, larger bookcase to allow for the size of the Library Editions (and even the regular-sized graphic novel editions).

Adding purchases from the latter part of last year in, there’s no longer room for the films to all share the shelf, so I had to move the individual Alien films and a couple misc. items elsehwere. (Perhaps they’ll help replace MechWarrior on the novels’ shelf?)

As it is, I left the Alien Anthology blu-ray set and the newer films.

I’m not sure if Dark Horse is going to continue their full-size collections of the older Aliens material, so I’m not at all in any hurry to replace the omnibii.with those…though I’d prefer the newer format. Time will tell!

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The Complete Life and Death

I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. It’s been well over a YEAR since the individual comics finished and it seems like forever that the individual skinny paperbacks have been out…and even a paperback edition collecting the entire series has been out for awhile.

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But this oversized hardcover "library edition" version of The Complete Life and Death is finally out.

This collects the entire Life and Death mega-arc, that spanned four mini-series, each touching on a brand: Prometheus, Aliens, AvP, and Predator.

Even the first issue of the story had comparison to/reference of the previous such mega-arc Fire and Stone…and it’s great to finally have this volume to add to my growing library of these beautiful hardcovers!

aliens_library_editions

Here’s the book with the other hardcovers and paired with Fire and Stone.

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…and here’s my entire Aliens shelf. Assuming I discovered the Aliens vs. Predator novels in 1995 (I don’t recall for sure as of this typing nor do I feel like looking up copyright dates), that’s less than a decade after the first Predator FILM. And it’s been 23 years SINCE then…so for the majority of the time I’ve even been aware of either property, they’ve been a "shared universe," particularly in the comics.

For me, they just go together.

This shelf is the comics/graphic novels shelf…I have several shelves of novels (I believe I most recently showed those off back in April for Aliens Day 2018.)

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Alien(s) Day 2018

April 26, 4/26–chosen for the planet designation LV-426 where the Alien was found and then the larger outbreak in Aliens–marks the day to observe the franchise.

For my part…sharing my latest shelf configurations!

aliens_shelf_04262018

I believe I have all of the Aliens paperback novels at this point. Including the Predator stuff, I’m still missing a Predator Omnibus from Titan; but I’m not in a huge rush to get that. There’s also a Predator counterpart to the Aliens: Bug Hunt volume; but again, not in a rush to get that.

Along with the books themselves on the shelves, I’ve got the various Pops and Mystery Minis and Minimates and whatnot. Seems the most appropriate place for the figures to be!

aliens_gn_shelf_04262018

Along with the various paperback novels, of course I have a number of comics volumes for Aliens, Predator, and Aliens vs. Predator. And rather than have them lost in with everything else, I opted to move my Blu-rays to this shelf (with the added benefit that they help keep everything standing up for the moment). I was counting on a matching volume to the Fire and Stone stuff with Life and Death, but never having seen anything about a hardcover and recently-ish seeing a paperback…I’m quite disappointed at the lack of proper "library edition" volume.

With my recent reconfiguring of the entire "comics space" I wasn’t able to find a good way to have the novels together with the graphic novels…so they are actually completely different bookcases in different parts of the overall space. I imagine I’ll get into more on that whenever I get to actually re-photographing the entire space and shelves and working up a huge post showing it all off!

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The Weekly Haul – Week of June 28, 2017 (part one)

This is an interesting ‘week’ for me for comics. I mis-timed a couple things, and had weekend plans for multiple weekends crossed-up, so (to make a long story short) I have stuff to pick up this weekend, but still managed to find stuff for Wednesday!

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I don’t know what it is about this A.D. After Death book that so fascinates me! Maybe it’s the format, that it’s like a hybrid of comics, prose, and story-book all in one. The price doesn’t hurt much, either…when each issue would’ve been probably $9.99 if not $12.99 or $14.99 from Marvel, and a book this large and thick would easily be a $49.99 (at minimum) book from Marvel. But it’s half that price, from Image.

Again keying off pricing…the Nights of Dominion volume grabbed my attention visually, but as I picked it up and saw it was Oni and not Image, I started to put it right back–I was not gonna be paying $19.99 for an unknown book like this! But I confirmed the price…which to my surprise was half that, at only $9.99…a $10 vol. 1, a la Image. So I grabbed it.

Then there was the bargain-priced X-Men: Phoenix Rising volume. $4.50. Hardly more than a single-issue from contemporary Marvel…and cheaper than most Marvel #1s these days, or one-shots or annuals from either Marvel or DC. I’d’ve sworn I had the book, but a look at my inventory did not show it present, so even if it somehow is a duplicate…I can live with it for that price!

And finally, Violent Love vol. 1…saw a stack of these by the register, a flash/one-day sale…$5. Same logic as above…for "only" $5, yeah, I’ll try it! Don’t know when I’ll actually get around to it and reading it, but it’ll fit into the Image vol. 1s library and be something to read randomly at some point!

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I’d semi-forgotten about a couple of Amazon pre-orders, and about the time I was thinking I "should" go in and cancel them, I had an email saying stuff had shipped. So for roughly 50% off, I have possession of the oversized 30th Anniversary Predator volume. This is a massive hardcover, much like the two Aliens volumes and the Prometheus/Predator/Aliens/AvP collection from a couple years back.

Size-wise, the Predator volume puts Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes to absolute shame. Far larger, looks like a similar issue-count, but the two are the same price.

Not knowing when I’ll get around to actually reading it, I’m actually quite disappointed with the "package" of the Superboy volume. It’s just a standard-trim hardcover of about 9 issues…old ones, at that. NOT a good "value" in my eyes, for its $50 cover price!

I also do not like the generic text "logo"…maybe it fits the image used, better, but that skinny/non-blocky/non-bombastic text is far too "modern" as a "logo" for comics of this period.

With DC cancelling a bunch of stuff either before release or after a first volume is out for what should be a series, I’ve half a mind to return this volume. I’m collecting Superman stuff, but not so much on Superboy or the Legion…and this is not a deluxe, oversized hardcover nor anything special/deserving of a hardcover offhand like this…better to be out in paperback and slash the price!

We’ll see, I guess…

Next week I’ll likely show off stuff I pick up this weekend if I get down to Kenmore as planned…and I missed this week’s X-Men Series I cards post. C’est la vie!

The Weekly Haul – Week of June 7th, 2017

Despite hopes for a "small" week, found this to be a fairly large week, particularly with a couple of high-priced issues I hadn’t consciously planned on, particularly for the prices!

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Of course, the weekly Superman issue. Then, because it was there, snagged the Superman & Bugs Bunny issue/volume. $8 and I believe it reprints a 4-issue mini-series…so functionally $2/issue for a full story in one go? You betcha! And of course, Captain Atom and Predator with new issues this week.

I went ahead and snagged the Batman issue rather than waiting for my DCBS bundle shipment, having had stuff spoiled a bit thanks to Bleeding Cool, and figuring I’d want to read this sooner than later for myself instead of just going on second-hand information.

And I hadn’t known anything about the Steve Trevor issue–I actually thought it was some new series or mini-series, so didn’t want anything to do with it. Plus, I simply never cared for the character, period, til seeing the new Wonder Woman movie this past Friday. And with it being a one-shot and NOT jacked up to $4.99+, I opted to give it a shot. Though the presence of an alternate cover–such that I had no idea which cover was the variant and which was the "regular" nearly drove me to put it back and pass on it entirely.

I did pass entirely on Magnus #1 because there was a B cover and a C cover, but no A cover, and I hadn’t realized it was out this week to request it be pulled as I did a couple of the other issues! (Publishers: you LOSE people like me by conditioning me to "accept" variant covers’ existence, but then messing me up when I at least attempt to stick to the "A"/non-variant/regular/advertised cover and ALL that remains are variants withOUT even the "original"/actual/real cover!)

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With The Batman/TMNT Adventures wrapped, the "cartoon" TMNT series TMNT Amazing Adventures is back with (presumably) a mini-series…perhaps in lieu of an ongoing as stuff on the "2012 series" starts to wrap up with the final season (I believe) presently airing and all that. And I’m definitely on a Spawn kick at present…barring price increase or my getting hosed over a variant or such, I’m mostly intending to dig in and stick through #300 at least.

I didn’t even realize it til I got it home, but this issue of Reborn was $5.99! I think had I realized that, I might’ve passed on the issue for now. I’m not certain that I have all 5 previous issues–I might be missing an issue–but having "most" of the issues, I simply figured hey, next/new/final issue, why not? Though I’ll grant it a LITTLE more leeway than I would Marvel at this point, as they’ve totally "abused" the extra-priced issues. And I’ll gladly take an extra $2 for presumably twice the content, or at least an extra 50% of content, especially if it means holding to the established number of issues, even if they had to expand the page count (again looking at Marvel primarily for tacking extra issues on at the end of event series).

I also noticed that Batman: Dark Knight III finally had its "final" issue out, which itself is a DC book that added an extra issue (as I recall, it was supposed to have been an 8-issue series, not 9).

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Then, for good measure, apparently, as I approached the register, I saw three stacks of books. Curiosity got me and I looked at the price stickers: $1.00! So for the price of 1 DC Rebirth issue, snagged two hardcovers and a paperback collected volume. No idea, for example, if the Zombie Christmas Carol is a Marvel Zombies thing, or just a zombie theme applied to the classic Dickens tale (thinking the latter), and I know I don’t have the other two, so at least they’d be "something" to read someday.


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It’s been a fantastic year of movies already, and some of them are starting to come out for home release. Logan a couple weeks ago, and now the live-action Beauty and the Beast.

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And just because I had it in my ‘camera roll’ as I was transferring stuff for this post…a photo of my 43 or so Supermen at the moment. Once/whenever I get new bookcases assembled and stuff re-arranged, I’m pretty sure these guys are gonna have to split up–it’s getting harder to add new ones, and I’m not too keen on the statue straddling two bookcases, nor of "hiding" it amidst dozens of alternate counterparts.

On My History With Aliens

alien3_novelizationThe Aliens franchise is a strange one for me. I’ve realized in recent years that it is honestly one of my absolute favorites, for whatever reason(s)–going back to the novels that so grabbed me as a kid, despite the horror elements–or perhaps because of them.

As my memory currently stands, I’d found a copy of Alien3–the novelization by Alan Dean Foster. After reading that and knowing it was based on a movie, I wanted to see the movie. Long story short, despite misgivings, I was allowed to rent and watch it–I credit it as my first "allowed" R-rated film.

Of course, this was the THIRD film, and there were two others. And being the reader that I was, I got into the other novelizations and films. I distinctly recall the sense of deja-vu in reading the novelization of Alien…I’m pretty certain to this day that I had actually read that some time before, never having a clue that it had anything at all to do with some movie. Of course I read it again having context of it being a movie…though I think at the time I thought the movie was based on the book rather than the other way around.

aliens_bantam_spectra_runI eventually got into the Aliens novels, then published by Bantam Spectra, based on the Dark Horse comics. These were where the non-film stories most stand out to me: the original "trilogy," or first three series from Dark Horse. In these, the Alien gets to Earth, where predictably it escapes confinement and the Earth is ultimately lost. Two survivors (based on Hicks and Newt) wind up on a couple adventures, eventually team up with Ripley (explained as an android with the original’s memories, accounting for the events of Alien 3) and left on a hopeful if ambiguous note.

avp_deadliest_heroillustratedThen further stories picked up some two decades after this, and seemed to maintain a certain sort of loose continuity–at least in the novels; though regardless, the stories were entertaining enough to read, even though none of them stood up against the immensity of the first three-parter. There were also several crossing the Aliens with Predator, which also led me to the Predator films.

By then, I’d been aware of both franchises and their crossing thanks to Hero Illustrated and such with hype over Aliens vs. Predator: Deadliest of the Species. avp_three_world_war_0002But it was the novels that I preferred, having little interest at the time in the actual comics, given it was years before "anything and everything" could be relatively simply located–and for bargain prices–online, and further before everything was collected and at least available to be READ if not owned in original single issues.

In the last several years, I’ve "gotten back into" Aliens, with Titan Books now having the license, and putting out some new editions and original stories and such, along with newer editions of the packaging for the films on home media, and new (but too-expensive) toys.

And of course, there have been the comics. There was AVP: Three World War, I believe standing as its own story with not much to do with the films, but utilizing the logo/branding from the AVP films. There was another Aliens series that I’m sure I at least had the first issue, but not sure if I followed through with the series in general.

lifeanddeath_predatorIn 2014, there was the mega-arc Fire and Stone, with 4-issue mini-series each for Prometheus, Aliens, Predator, and AVP that tied together into the larger overall story.

Last year we had the start of a new major Aliens series in Defiance–offhand, I think the longest singular Aliens series (Aliens vs. Predator: Deadliest of the Species was 12 issues, I believe, but that wasn’t a singular-property series).

Last year also saw the start of a new mega-arc Life and Death, which was "in the tradition of Fire and Stone" with 4-issue minis for each of the four brands, collectively telling one larger overall arc.

Despite both Defiance and Life and Death starting last year, I got behind on READING, so it was only in April–right after the final chapter of Life and Death hit–that I carved out several hours and read that story cycle straight through–lifeanddeath_aliensall 17 chapters–in one day. I also re-read the Defiance issues I’d read, and continued on, though those had a slight delay with real-life issues going on, and I finished catching up a week or so ago.

There’s a new Predator mini that’s started that looks like it builds on continuity established over the years in the Dark Horse series, which makes it all the more appealing to me, as I can go back and read (finally) older stories for enhanced understanding/context.

I posted photos of my Aliens "bookshelf" collection several weeks ago and more recently found a couple figures from the 1990s toy line. A new book anthology Aliens: Bug Hunt was recently released and has been my current "reading project" on lunches at work.

lifeanddeath_predatorWhich all sorta converges this weekend with the release of the new Ridley Scott-helmed film Alien: Covenant. To my understanding, this is a "sequel" of sorts to 2012’s Prometheus which was itself a quasi-prequel to Alien (in that it’s in the same universe and took place prior to the events of the original Alien film). Given the use of Alien back in the title itself, I’m definitely expecting to see the eponymous creature in this one. I’m also looking forward to the film in general as (expectationally) my first theatrical Scott Alien film (though I’ve seen Alien Resurrection, AVP, AVP Requiem, and Prometheus during their theatrical runs).

Perhaps–for me–one of the great things with the Aliens (and Predator) stuff (whether as novels or comics) is that there are so many stories to tell, as well as so many iterations ofsuperman_aliens_ad a formula. The basic elements are there, one can generally have accurate expectations going into a story–but there doesn’t even HAVE TO BE a singular, linear "continuity." The creatures work in stories on their own, or even interacting with other franchises. To me, one of the best of those is the Superman/Aliens crossover, as that drew directly from and even had lasting repercussions within the Superman titles. (And on the matter of lasting repercussions, I believe the Aliens crossover with WildC.A.T.s was the finale of that series and a sort of inciting incident that moved us from Stormwatch to The Authority).

But while a larger story can be found, it seems like if you know the "basics" of the property, you can pretty much read whatever, whenever, without missing out. And the model for the comics lifeanddeath_prometheushas apparently always been the "limited series"–I don’t believe there’s ever been an "ongoing" series with any intention or expectation of exceeding 12 issues; with a number of shorter serialized stories, a "prestige format" 2-issue series, or 4 to 6 issues for a series. And these are finite and collected–largely–in Dark Horse‘s Omnibus line.

It’s also far more achievable to pursue a "complete" collection of Aliens comics than characters that have been around longer, and in ongoing series and crossovers and minis and such all around.

For now–the new Alien film. With plenty of new material to read, and loads to re-read, and old material to read for the first time. It seems like a great time to be "into" the franchise(s) and such with so much content readily available–new and old–to go through!

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Aliens Day 2017

It’s interesting to see the various "days" that folks have come up with. Seems like there’s something for every day of the year. Where once there were "Hallmark Holidays," now even those would be prestigious rarities by comparison.

That said, one of the ones that I can actually appreciate is Aliens Day. April 26th…or 4/26. As in LV-426, the planetoid with the colony that the Colonial Marines and Ripley went (back) to in the film Aliens all those years back.

And as one of my all-time favorite franchises, and not having properly observed it last year in its inaugural outing, I figured I’d dedicate a post to it this year.

Yet, I don’t have anything lengthy or long-winded; I could ramble about my thoughts on the films, the books, etc; some memories tied up in stuff around obtaining various pieces of my collection, but I don’t actually have the time or patience at present.

SO, in lieu of lots of words, I’ll let some photos do most of the "talking."

Aliens Day 2017…here is my Aliens collection.

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The films. Well, the Blu-Ray editions, anyway–once upon a time, I had the Aliens Quadrilogy dvd box set–the 9-foot-long thing with all those discs and such. I also had all the single films on dvd, with a couple different editions of Alien and Aliens. I’ve since bought a pale imitation of the Quadrilogy dvd–bare-bones films–BUT that one came with a code for a digital copy, giving me a digital set of the first four films.

And over the past year and a half or so with the Anniversary Edition releases for the first two, I’ve bought those for the bonus (physical) content.

I also lump the Predator franchise in here…I find that via the Aliens vs. Predator and AvP stuff, the two are solidly linked, and the Predator stuff just works well partnered with the Aliens stuff.

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I believe I have the entire run of ’90s novels, each adapting one of Dark Horse Comics‘ mini-series. About 12 years ago, there were several more books released directly from the publisher under a now-defunct imprint. And of course, there were the movie novelizations. More recently, Titan Books has been putting out new stuff such as a trilogy of Alien novels set between the original Alien film and Aliens.

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Titan also put out a newer trilogy "crossing" franchises–Predator, Alien, and Alien vs. Predator, set in a further future, and set the stage for what could be some very interesting universe-building should further novels be produced. There’s also a newer anthology of short stories, and a number of other books and products outside the Titan well.

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Of course, there are the comics–which I have in multiple formats. I’m loving the oversized hardcovers. There are the original collected volumes. We recently got a collection of Dark Horse‘s collaborations with DC on the Aliens stuff. The excellent Omnibus series encompassing Aliens, Aliens vs. Predator, and Predator itself.

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Then there are the toys/figurines/etc. Funko Pop figures, regular and oversized; Minimates, Neca, Funko Mystery Mini figures, and even a "cute" plush happy-looking face-hugger.

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In trying to get a bunch of the Alien creature from the Mystery Minis line, I wound up with far more Predators–the standard, the "wounded" variant, and the extra-rare translucent "invisible" variant. I eventually snagged the "full-size" standard Pop figure.


I’m also very much looking forward to the new movie due out in about three weeks, and to the concluding chapter of the mega-arc Life and Death that’s due out this week.

I’ve seen a number of other toys/figures I’d like, but they tend to be very much on the far-too-expensive side for me, especially where life is right now.

I do imagine a re-watch marathon may be in the near-future for me, as well as having plenty of reading yet to go, having been back through or just through (in the case of the newer releases) some dozen or so of the novels in the last year-plus.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of March 15th, 2017

This week was a smallish week again, though I got four new comics instead of only the 2-ish apiece the last couple weeks.

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The two Super books. I almost want to wait on reading Super Sons until after Superman Reborn is done, but probably won’t. I already read Superman #19 and posted my thoughts on it). God Country was quasi-accidental, and I’m annoyed (yet again/as always) with variant covers crap (seems despite supposedly cutting back, every time I turn around, Image has stuff with variants out!)

I broke down and bought the $4.99 Star Trek: Deviations one-shot figuring maybe it’d be a "fun" read, but it wound up being rather blah to me, especially after reading the piece after the story about its genesis. And the waste of valuable pages for "sketches" and such involving a variant cover, rather than more pages of actual story. And three two-page segments about three other Star Trek books IDW is currently publishing…all of which referenced something about 3 pages, yet each only had ONE page of actual "preview," and STILL only two including the page that’s nothing but an AD for each series.

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On a higher note, taking advantage of a week of Half-Price Books coupons (but having waited til they got to 30% off an item), I snagged Superman in the FIfties, which I believe leaves me now only missing the In the Sixties volume.

I’ve become quite the fan of the Aliens stuff the last year-plus again, and this "art book" (for slightly less than two Marvel single issues) will more than outpace the time it’d even take to read those two Marvel issues, just reading captions and enjoying the art!

And because I didn’t want to risk "missing" it and it was already cheap enough to basically be a "waste" of a high-percent coupon, I snagged the Green Lantern volume, which puts me one closer to a complete run of these older ones. (Probably just in time for them to start doing those fat $20 ten-to-twelve-issue collections of Kyle’s run)…

I’ve got my eye on a couple other things for the 40%-off coupons Friday and Saturday. I may do a quick weekend post if I score what I’m considering. Alternatively, might just post to Facebook and be done (I do sometimes post photos and other stuff "exclusively" to this blog’s Page…there should be a link on the left of this blog post).

For now, looking forward to next week’s Action Comics issue and "hoping" for a rather "small" week again…

Final Haul of 2016

New Year’s Eve, I made a quick trip to the old comic shop to pick up a few things. I also stopped at a Books-A-Million to snag something for a friend, and wound up getting a couple things for myself while I was there. These are the highlights–minus thirty-three 20-cent issues.

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Lotta Aliens stuff. Well, and Predator. And the mashing together of the properties. In short, awesomeness. I’m loving these new Titan volumes collecting the classic Dark Horse Novels books. Even though I have the originals, I’ve been getting these for the completeness. I’ve been realizing the last year-plus that Aliens (and related) properties are much like TMNT for me in being willing to "double-dip" (or more) on stuff.

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With a 20%-off-everything-but-brand-new-comics sale going on, I snagged the Munchkin mini-expansion Dragons (to go with Dragon’s Trike that I got several weeks ago)…and got the Super Powers Superman figure/"statue" to go with the Robin one I got several months ago (though now I definitely want Batman. And Flash. And perhaps even Green Lantern…)

And Friday I’d revisited the closer comic shop for several volumes:

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At half-off and fitting in with recent Clone Saga and Ben Reilly volumes plus CHapter One and The Original Clone Saga that I’d had from 2015 or early 2016, I decided that I wanted them…especially having seen them. So I decided that if they still had all three volumes, I’d get ’em; all-or-nothing.

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And now the Spidey portion of my collection is starting to look like something not completely pitiful. Of course, I believe I have four more volumes to track down for the Clone Saga Epic, and decide how much I’m willing to pay on the Ben Reilly volumes 5 & 6 (even cover price seems way too expensive!) (especially having gotten 1-4 for $8/ea!)

Hopefully this week will be a relatively small week, though!

Finally, the clear bonus to going back to the shop on Friday was getting to see Winston!

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(He was still sleepy when I took this photo). He put up with my attention, though, which (as always) made the trip worth it for that alone!

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