‘Over the centuries, extraterrestrial hunters of the Yautja race–also known as the Predators–have encountered (and stalked) humans on Earth and in the depths of space. Offered here are sixteen all-new stories of such hunts. Inspired by the events of the original Predator movies, graphic novels, and novels, these adventures pit hunter against prey in life-and-death struggles where there can be only one victor.’
Following 2017’s Aliens: Bug Hunt, an anthology book that told several stories set within the Alien universe, it was only a matter of time until a book focusing on Predator came along. Whilst Aliens: Bug Hunt was certainly a mixed bag of stories, Predator: If It Bleeds is a huge improvement in quality.
The beauty of the Predator universe is that it allows the titular creature to visit so many places and times from across human history. And the stories in the book take full advantage of this. ‘Stonewall’s Last Stand’ tells the story of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson and a unit of his men falling afoul of a Yautja (Predator) hunting soldiers during the American Civil War. The story makes great use of being able to set the action within real historical events, by explaining away why Jackson ended up being shot by his own men; he was running away from a Predator and his men thought he was deserting.
Whilst the rest of the book doesn’t set events within such specific events it does make use of Earth’s varied history. There’s a story where a band of vikings come up against a trio of young Yautja that have come to earth to learn to hunt humans that shows how badass vikings were and why we need a movie of Predator vs. Vikings. There’s also a story where a wandering samurai returns to his homeland to fight the demonic Oni that’s killing all other warriors, a story that leads to the the samurai learning from the Yautja’s techniques to form the first ninja.
A lot of the stories are about humans fighting Yautja hunters, but sometimes the book surprises with a story that subverts expectation. There’s a story where an abused child angers one of the creatures and lures it to his home so that it will kill his abusive guardians; and a story where a POW rescues a Yautja from captivity in order to escape.
The book also has some nice connections to existing Predator stories. Tim Lebbon returns to write a prequel story to his amazing Rage War trilogy that pitted the Predators and Aliens against each other. The story, titled ‘Devil Dogs’, shines a light onto the history of Akoko Halley and her military unit, The Devil Dogs. It’s a good story, and a solid choice for the first story in the book as it will feel familiar to those who have read other recent Predator books, whilst also being exciting enough to draw in new readers.
‘Drug War’ acts as a follow up to Predator 2, featuring the return of Danny Glover’s Harrigan as he comes across a Yautja waging a small war against the drug cartels in South America. It’s cheesy and very over the top, but it feels like a good follow-up to the film, with the same kind of sensibilities and unrealistic depictions of a crime ridden near future (though it’s well in the past for us now).
There are so many stories in the book that there’s bound to be one that appeals to someone, even if you don’t end up enjoying the whole book. There’s one set in Vietnam, World War One, Hurricane Katrina, and distant alien worlds. It’s a book that makes the most of the Predator universe, that draws inspiration from all corners of the franchise and presents new and exciting depictions of the famous monster.
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