Friday, July 9, 2010

'Hell and Hot Water' is great Predator tale

Predator: Hell & Hot Water (Dark Horse Comics, 1998)
Writer: Mark Schultz
Artist: Gene Colan (with sketch and cover galleries by Mark Schultz)
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

When an alien spacecraft that matches the design known to be used by the Predator species is seen plunging into the sea off the Chilean coast, a group of SCUBA diving commandos are dispatched to take the fight to the alien and hopefully bring back some samples of the species' technology. Unfortunately for the brave Predator hunters, this is one alien who has come to Earth to hunt game even more dangerous than humans....

"Predator: Hell & Hot Water" is not only an action-packed Predator tale in a very unusual environment, but it's also a top-notch horror story. The horror overtones here are far greater than in any of the "Predator" movies or other "Predator" comics I've read. Further, it features a believable cast of characters--here's a group that actually works together as a team of professionals, instead of wasting effort and energy with in-fighting among the characters like we so often see in this kind tale--and is told in a very cinematic fashion with excellent dialogue and some of the best art from Gene Colan's drawingboard since "Raggamuffins" and "Silverblade".

The free-flowing, sometimes confusing page layouts that have become Colan's hallmark in the late stage of his long artistic career work exceptionally well with the environment of much of "Hell & Hot Water", which takes place in an undersea environment where up, down, left, and right must be considered equally at all times. Even when Our Heroes are on dry land, they have contend with threats that can come from any direction at any moment. Colan's art conveys this exceptionally well. If you're a fan of any of his previous work (in "Daredevil", "Iron Man", "Captain America", "Tomb of Dracula", "Night Force", Silverblade", "Howard the Duck", "Nathaniel Dusk" or "Doctor Strange"), you should track down a copy of this graphic novel for a look at late-stage Colan that is a impactful as when he was at his best.

This graphic novel is better than any of the "Predator" sequels that have appeared in theaters so far. I'll discover today, when I check out the latest one, if this remains true.


Marten said...

Hello Steve,

Out of curiosity, now that you have seen the movie does this comic still hold up for you?

I read the comic today again after several years and I find that the story still holds up and is better than that of Dark Horse´s other Predator story work.

I do not know where exactly to pin it but one of the things I think is that that it is not as overdone and more time for a story and a situation being told.

I read some criticism on it but I can not really agree that other comics were better, a lot of them simply didn't work for me for one reason or another.

Steve Miller, Writer of Stuff said...

Marten: I think "Hell and Hot Water" holds up excellently. And you are correct, I believe, it pointing to the fact that more time is spent developing the story here than in many of the comics. Many of them jump more or less straight to what the readers are primarily interested in--aliens killing more or less hapless villains until some bright bulb turns the table on them. In the case of this Schultz/Colan effort, it's got such a fresh and unusual environment--not to mention somewhat more intelligent and more interesting-than-average characters--that it needed more time to get going.

I think that "you can't put your finger on it" element might be the fact that graphic novel made the Predators new all over again.