Date: Wednesday, December 20, 2000
Galactus versus Aunt May. The Kingpin versus a box of Dunkin Donuts. The JLA versus a Predator squadron. What do these pairings have in common? Simple: none of 'em would be much of a fight.
Think about the matchupthe third one, that is. The first two are left to your imagination. The Predators are relentless interstellar tough guys, but they just don't have the raw power to throw down with Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman or Green Lantern. Plus. As regular JLA writer Mark Waid is fond of saying, 'Heat vision trumps everything.' Superman could barbecue up a whole platoon of Predators before you could say 'Schwarzenegger.'
So for the current JLA/Predator crossover with Dark Horse, DC needed to up the ante to make the one-shot more than two pages. They supercharged Dark Horse's prize creations and suddenly, the fight doesn't look so one-sided.
'As the story begins, the Dominators [one of DC's sadistic alien races] are fleeing to Earth, and they're being pursued by something,' says JLA/Predator writer John Ostrander. 'An experiment of theirs, designed to attack the Justice League, has gone horribly wrong. They've taken Predators whom they've captured and manipulated their DNA so as to create metapowered, superhuman Predators. So they have all the qualities of the usual Predators, plus specific abilities tailored to take on the Justice League.'
The Battle Begins
Of course, one area in which the Predators already reign supreme is the endgamethe moment when a fighter must decide whether to destroy his opponent once and for all, or show mercy and spare a life. The JLA isn't in the murdering business; they fight to preserve lifeany lifeat all costs. The Predators have no such compunctions, and they'd just as soon use your skull for a saltshaker as look at you. Combine that killer instinct with amped-up power, and you've got some serious trouble ahead for the JLA.
'At first, the Justice League doesn't realize it's already being attacked,' says Ostrander. 'Before they really know what's going on, the Predators are on top of them, and they start to really score some points off the JLA.'
Much as DC's heroes might wish otherwise, JLA/Predator is no Elseworlds tale. 'This does fall within the DC Universe,' says Ostrander. 'It may not be spot-on current continuity, but it's certainly recent DC continuity, and it's a universe in which the Predators have already attacked Superman and Batman [in earlier mini-series]. So they'll know who they're up againstnot that it will do them much good.'
For Ostrander, the current writer of Martian Manhunter, JLA/Predator allowed him to introduce two sets of old friends to one another. 'It's always a pleasure to play with the Justice League again,' he says. 'I enjoy that first and foremost. But I have played with the Predator, too, when I did Magnus/Predator over at Valiant. I find the Predator an interesting opponentwhat I like in this case is that I was allowed to make them a serious challenge to the DC characters. Most of the JLA, with their powers and skills, should be able to dispose of the Predators relatively easily. As it is, with a souped-up Predator, you've got more of a fight.'
Don't look for much in the way of characterization from the Predators, though. Ostrander believes that their relentlessness works better when we don't get to learn about the beasties behind the masks. 'We don't have much of a chance to do [characterization of the Predators] here,' he says. 'Some writers have managed to do that in different books, but when you're dealing with so many characters as you have in the Justice League, it gets a little bit difficult to add any more. But it is fun to play with both the JLA and the 'JLA-versions' of the Predators. Even as amped-up as they are, they remain true to the archetype of the Predator. The 'Superman-Predator' has powers comparable to Superman, but it also has other important abilitiesits invisibility, its hunting instincts, things like that.'
Since DC hasn't started soliciting for a Justice League of Predators monthly, it's probably a safe bet that the JLA will walkor at least limpaway from this fight. But it won't be an easy battle. 'The question early in the book is how soon the JLA is going to find out who their real enemy is,' says Ostrander. 'The Predators take some good shots at the Justice League early on. And if they had remained an unknown quantity, things could have ended far differently.'
Fans of previous Dark Horse crossovers will recall how Warren Ellis used Dark Horse's Aliens to skewer Wildstorm's Stormwatch team, clearing the stage for the Authority's debut. Such dramatic storylines aren't likely here, but Ostrander says the Predators will give the JLA all they can handle. 'Certainly, Batman and Superman, having had previous experience with the Predators, would seem to be well-suited for a fight,' he says. 'You would think that J'onn J'onzz, with his telepathy, would have a good shot at dealing with the Predators. We'll just have to see how true that turns out to be.'
Ostrander won't be straying too far from the Justice League after the JLA/Predator one-shot. He continues to write the monthly adventures of the Martian Manhunter, and he's preparing to roll out one of 2001's landmark maxi-series, JLA: Incarnations. Detailing the entire history of the JLA, each of the series' eight issues is the size of an annual. 'It starts just after JLA: Year One, and shows the different stages in the League's development, from Year One to the current day,' says Ostrander. 'We'll see how the JLA developed, how it changed and where it changed.'
JLA: Incarnations is a mammoth task, and not just because Ostrander has to give lame fifth-rate JLAers like Vibe some measure of credibility. 'I've been going over a lot of past history, trying to figure out what is in the DC Universe and what isn't, adapting key storylines that may have changed because of changes to the DC Universe, and doing some minor retcons here and there. This one has so many balls in the airthis is going to be a big undertaking.'
For now, though, JLA fans can look forward to some holiday Predator butt-kicking. And maybe, if the JLA manages to win, they can get the Predators to teach 'em how to make a quality summer blockbuster. In that world, DC's heroes need all the help they can get.