The covers: A pair to track down before they get you. The Main cover is by David Palumbo with a human running down some familiar corridors, doing the unthinkable and looking behind her. All that’s missing is the loud hiss as the xenomorph leaps upon her. Nice layout with the coloring, that maddening red that only increases the tension in films, being used to excellent effect. I also like the whites in the image, with the exit looking like blissful Heaven, but the red overwhelming her. Nice white highlights on the creature, too. The Variant cover is by Fiona Staples and I grabbed this one because of the amazing work done on the aliens. There’s a pair of the creatures hanging upside down on a red-rust background. This iconic beasts are amazing looking, but having them at this angle puts them into a whole other level of creepy. Overall grades: Main A and Variant A+
The story: This story by Chris Roberson is set before the events of the recently released Prometheus: Fire and Stone. On LV-426, known as “Acheron,’ a planet in the process of terraformed, is being overrun by the xenomorphs. There are several of the monsters taking out civilians left and right, while those that believe they can run to safety are following the instructions of an engineer named Derrick Russell. As his group makes their way down a corridor, they encounter an even larger group of people led by Genevieve Dione, a greenhouse supervisor. Together they make their way to the Onager, an ore driller and cargo ship. This vessel is being quickly loaded with cargo by men under the supervision of Nolan Cale, a surveyor and prospector. Some of the people make it to the ship, and off they go to a nearby, ominous world. This issue is setting up the premise in a rapid fashion. There is not time for too much character depth as they are too busy trying to survive the never ceasing onslaught. Because of this, the pace of the book is quick, and I found myself turning the pages at a speed that matched the frantic characters. Only one panel seemed out of place, and that was the narration in the middle panel on 17: this seems wrong for this character, and having him make this comment is cliché. Sure, this is series that focuses on the standard aliens-chasing-down-humans trope, but I was hoping to see one human avoid this commentary. This was an exciting read and I want to know what happens to these hapless humans. Overall grade: A
The art: This book has some very strong art from Patric Reynolds. On the first page readers can see what visuals terrors they will encounter. There’s a solid establishing shot as the first panel with the setting, number of aliens, and human losses obvious. The next three panels explicitly show how the creatures take humans out, focusing on one individual who never had a chance. The last panel is an especially sharp panel showing the frenzy, horror, and alien-ness of the aliens. Reynolds’s people are very realistically drawn. His style reminds me of Gabriel Hardman with his realism, and I’m sure his artwork would be as impressive in black and white as it is colored. There’s also a considerable amount of tech he has to create with the colony and a ship. His design for the Onager is sharp and completely in line with previous seen ships from the films. I really liked the panels that were tight close-ups of pilot Ramona; they reminded me of several movie scenes of pilots under pressure. Pages 16 and 17 are impressive shock scenes, as I did and did not expect this moment to happen. I am also looking forward to see what else Reynolds can do for this book. Overall grade: A
The colors: Taking his talents momentarily away from Mignolverse books is Dave Stewart who uses colors to increase the ferocity of the aliens’ attacks. Page 1 shows him doing this excellently: the first, establishing panel is in the murky grey and dark browns I would associate with a terraforming facility, and the colors remain the same in the second panel with the exception of the yellow used to highlight the sound of the alien’s hiss; the third panel goes from grey to orange to have the horror of the action in the silhouette enhanced; while the final panel goes an orange-rust to showcase the emotion, and cast a spotlight on the red blood. Every page has examples of Stewart showing his expertise at lighting any scene. Overall grade: A
The letters: Blambot’s Nate Piekos gets to create several slick sounds for this issue, plus some good scene setting, dialogue and narration (the same font), and mutterings. I really liked the font used for the aliens’ many screeches and hisses; their noises look the way they sound. Well done. Overall grade: A
The final line: This is the way I want an Aliens comic to be: frantic, exciting, scary, and well illustrated. I’m also looking forward to seeing a new set of obstacles confront the humans chased by the xenomorphs. I don’t recall having characters in this type of environment and situation in other books, so Dark Horse is going into new territory and I’m ready for the ride. Overall grade: A
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.