Predators: Big Game, Uncomitted Bullets / by Patrick Smith

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A while back I took part in an excellent double feature of the films The Edge and The Grey, both of which are great films that I would heartily recommend if you haven’t yet seen them. I bring them up here because they both delve into the themes of civilized man's descent into his inherent predatory nature, and the various beasts which we believe we’re are above can cease to be flesh and blood and transform into nearly spectral totemic manifestations of the unrelenting chaos that is nature. Watching those films cemented my basic idea of what a Predator is outside of something that hunts and kills; a predator is also a trigger to a cycle of violence that only really succeeds when the prey manages to make a transformation- from prey into a predator itself. I found that the best stories in the anthology Predators are the ones that come close to realizing those themes, but like many anthologies those stories are few and far-between. Before we get into that though, I suppose it's worth mentioning that I’ve become a bit jaded when it comes to these sorts of Anthology projects, and as such Predators almost feels like an antiquated anomaly to me; I just don’t think these sorts of anthologies work both on an artistic and financial level. From an artistic standpoint these sorts of books, at best, only have a handful of solid stories which only ever seem to be there to bolster the rest of the accompanying crap up; and because of that fact, these books very rarely feel like they’re worth the money.

There is a reason that the most successful anthologies of late are either one-artist anthologies or, at the very least, anthologies with recurring creative teams, and it's because there is at the very least a unifying thread to the work. Predators doesn’t have that, albeit it does have a ton of creative talent involved that keeps its central premise loose enough to allow contributors enough wiggle room to come at the concept of the Predator from different angles. The problem is that none of these ways are particularly interesting.

Like I said, the best stories in this thing deal directly with man's inherent predatory nature along with the transformative aspect of the relationship between predator and prey. A few of them even toy around with the very premise, but at the same time other stories don’t even seem to understand the very idea of the anthology in which they’re contributing except in the most superficial way possible. The stories bounce around from various genres and styles, which does give it the feeling of being a diverse showcase, but it also gives it the feeling of being really disjointed. Admittedly, only a few of the thirty-five featured stories within this book make the cut of being out-and-out terrible, but far too many seem to settle for the more egregious sin of being mediocre. I can accept something being terrible because something that falls that far at the very least admits that it was tying to reach for something, but I will never accept mediocrity, as that entails the creative team involved said “Good Enough” and walked away. The more you think about that and the more you think about what went into the construction of a book like this, the more sour you’ll get towards the overall intentions of the people who made this.

I won't go into every story here nor will I highlight the stories that I think either lift the book up or drag the book down, it wouldn’t add anything to my overall thoughts and frankly I’m not crazy enough to comb through all thirty six stories, but I will say this: the overall approaches to story and art styles are eclectic enough that they do serve as a solid showcase of the talent involved. Like all anthologies, my favorite stories probably wouldn’t be your favorite stories, and that’s ok. However for me personally this book didn’t really give me what I want from anthologies nowadays, and while it isn’t the publisher's or the editor's or the creative team's fault for not adhering to my (frankly) unrealistic, jacked up standards, it is what it is. I suppose it's just up to you to figure out what your own standards are for this sort of thing and go from there. Happy hunting.

TL;DR: Despite being a solid showcase of diverse talent, the Predators feels disjointed in quality and at times doesn't seem all that committed to its titular premise.

Predators is a collaborative anthology* published by Accent UK. You can ask for it at your local comic book shop or purchase it on the publisher's website.

A review copy of Predators was graciously provided to Spandexless by the publisher.

*talent includes: Mo Ali, Zakarya Anwar, Jon Ayre, David Baillie, Jonathan Baylis, David Beyer Jr, Roland Bird, Andy Bloor, Michael Burness, Lonny Chant, Mark Clapham, Federico Combi, Alexi Conman, Bryan Coyle, Gary Crutchley, Ben Dickson, Amdy Dodd, Jay Eales, Darren Ellis, Martin Fisher, Martin Flink, Andy Forber, Jon-Mikel Gates, David Hailwood, Martin Hayes, Tony Hitchman, Steve Howard, Indio, Will Kirby, Kenny Jeffery, Valentin Lerena, Lee Lightfoot, Pablo Lizalde, Pedro Lopez, Marleen Lowe, Stephen Michael Lowe, Kirk Manley, Jeff Marsick, Colin Mathieson, James McKay, Kev Mullins, Douglas Noble, Shane Oakley, Debbie Ogden, Leonie O'moore, Caroline Parkinson, Morgan Pielli, Jay Rainford-Nash, Javier Reyes, Lee Robson, Natalie Sandalls, Craig Shields, Paull Stafford, Tony Suleri, Steve Tanner, Dave West, Steve White, Crispian Woolford, Matthew Zucker