Alien vs. Predator: Thrill of the Hunt is a graphic novel that was published by Dark Horse Books in September 2004 that serves as a tie-in to the film Alien vs. Predator. It was written by Mike Kennedy, illustrated by Roger Robinson and Dustin Weaver, inked by James Pascoe and Randy Emberlin, colored by Grafiksismik, lettered by Michael David Thomas and edited by Chris Warner, with cover art by David Michael Beck.
An entirely new story that uses certain elements from the Alien vs. Predator feature film — namely the concept of Xenomorph-filled Predator training temples — Thrill of the Hunt was meant to bridge the continuities between that film and the pre-existing Aliens vs. Predator comics line. It also served to tie up inconsistencies between the existing Aliens and AVP comics and the advanced time period of Alien Resurrection, in which the Xenomorphs are said to have been extinct since Ellen Ripley's death on Fiorina "Fury" 161, by way of a cataclysmic data-loss event known as "The Big Deletion".
In the farthest reaches of space, a creature terrified us. Acid blood. Armored skin. Razor-sharp teeth. No mercy. In the depths of a rain forest, another creature hunted us. Perfect camouflage. Fearsome weapons. Brutal methods. No conscience. In 2004, these monsters clashed on Earth in the greatest battle the universe has ever known. But far in the future, long after a technological catastrophe that started a second Dark Age, all memory of these two species has been forgotten. And when Mankind again reaches for the stars, we will discover that, truly, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Once again, Man is caught in the middle of a deadly struggle between the two most deadly species ever encountered. And once again, whoever wins... we lose.
Based on this summer's major-motion picture from 20th Century Fox, Alien vs. Predator: Thrill of the Hunt carries the themes and story elements from the film into new territories of action and terror, crafted by Mike Kennedy and illustrator Roger Robinson (Azrael, Batman: Gotham Nights), all in a value-priced original graphic novel. Cover painting by Society of Illustrators award-winner David Michael Beck.
While the comic has never been collected, it was released digitally through Dark Horse Digital on October 17, 2012.
Behind the Scenes
Somewhat confusingly advertised as being "based on this summer's major motion picture", Thrill of the Hunt is in no way an adaptation of Alien vs. Predator, but instead incorporates plot elements introduced in the film into the wider Aliens vs. Predator comics universe.
The comic is one of few stories in the Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator franchise to be set in the 24th century advanced time period of Alien Resurrection. Other examples include the comic's sequel, Alien vs. Predator: Civilized Beasts, the novel Aliens: Original Sin, and the non-canon crossover comic Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator. Several recent novels have been set even further into humanity's future, starting with the book Alien: Sea of Sorrows.
Though clearly and indirectly stated a number of times that Thrill of the Hunt's events take place around the same time as Alien Resurrection, the time placement of the story is further confirmed by the fact that the characters' costumes are drawn to imitate those worn by the characters in Resurrection, particularly the style of the scientists' garb, which is identical to that of the film.
Since Thrill of the Hunt is a spin-off from the film Alien vs. Predator, both it and its sequel, Civilized Beasts, use the same form of the franchise name for their title, thereby becoming two of only four Aliens vs. Predator comics in history to use the singular "Alien" in the title. The others are the reprint comic Alien vs. Predator: Whoever Wins...We Lose and the one-shot Alien vs. Predator: Sand Trap, both of which were exclusive to various DVD home video releases. All four were released during the 2000s and all four were in some way tied to the first Alien vs. Predator movie.
The Big Deletion
- Main article: The Big Deletion
Thrill of the Hunt also attempts to explain the inconsistencies between the existing Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator comics and the film Alien Resurrection, in which General Perez states that the Xenomorph species has been extinct for the last 200 years — a fact that contradicts the comics, in which humanity had repeated interactions with the Xenomorphs in the interim, and the Earth itself even became infested and ravaged by the Xenomorphs, a monumental event that would take humanity close to a generation to recover from.
The principal way in which the comic attempts to clear up this inconsistency is through the introduction of "The Big Deletion": a galaxy-wide computer virus event which, it is explained, wiped out most of the extrasolar human colonies and much of the electronically stored information about mankind's past.
- The comic's cover is based on a piece of promotional artwork created for the film Alien vs. Predator (most obviously seen on the title card for the Alien vs. Predator Premium Trading Cards set), although it is not in fact a direct duplicate — it is actually a very accurate painted recreation illustrated by David Michael Beck. The most obvious differences are in the Predator's mask, which features different coloration and noticeably different eye sockets compared to the original artwork.