The cover: Has someone been saved or damned? Looking to be the interior of a ship, a lone human screams in pain as two xenomorphs come at him from behind, one of their tails snakes over the man’s shoulder as his hands try to push their way through the glass. On the other side of the door, the safe side, an unspecified individual has a hatchet. It’s impossible to tell if he bares it for defense or as a weapon to save the man on the other side. Good image by David Palumbo that sums up what this franchise is all about. Overall grade: A
The story: The majority of this issue is told from terraformer engineer Derrick Russell. He’s detected some objects flying around the countryside every nine days. Making a makeshift net he captures the object and discovers that it’s “old Wyland-Yutani equipment.” Fiddling with the device he’s able to activate a recording: a gigantic stone head towering over smaller objects. The audio states, “Prometheus, we are now mapping.” Derrick realizes he and his survivors weren’t the first humans on LV-223, or the first employees sent. Some of his questions have been answered, while also creating some new ones. As he’s pondering what to do with his discovery, the rest of the survivors are again arguing what to do next. They’re divided between Genevieve Dione and Nolan Cale. The group continues to gather food, but is constantly attacked by wandering xenomorphs, and their numbers are dwindling. Chris Roberson is doing quite a bit in this issue to keep things going forward quickly, with the constant threat of death by alien, yet also taking the time for Derrick to soak in the scope of the Engineers’ plans. He’s bringing the aliens and the awe to his story. There are two solid teases at the end of this issue, with the most dramatic being the next step in the planet’s speedy evolution. Overall grade: A
The art: I’m really enjoying the visuals by Patric Reynolds. He’s able to give fans of the franchise the action and scares of the aliens attacking, and there is quite a bit of that, but I’m like the emotions he brings to his characters. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the alien attacks, but if the art doesn’t have believable humans to root for then all this becomes is a senseless series of alien massacres. For example, the bottom panel of Page 1 has Derrick beginning to build his net. The man is an engineer, yet he’s forced to make due with the materials LV-223 provides. It’s got to be frustrating, but if he wants to succeed he’s got to be patient. Reynolds’s visual captures all of this in one panel. I especially like the tip of his tongue sticking out as the works. Derrick is also acting well in the fourth panels on Pages 2 and 3. Reynolds is able to make this man look incredibly intelligent and thoughtful with just a panel. That’s talent. Page 8 is pretty creepy bit of layout that reminded me of the original Planet of the Apes. Page 12 is an excellent way in using panel shape to accentuate a climb, and 14 and 15 recreate the wonder of the imagery of Prometheus. This is a well drawn book. Overall grade: A
The colors: On every page the coloring draws the readers through the story with the images. Page 1 is a summary of four weeks of time that Dave Stewart rightly colors in earth tones to emphasize the rural environment the characters are in. Notice how in the final panel of Page 1 light background colors are horizontal, leading to Derrick’s face to draw readers’ eyes to him. This technique is repeated in the third panel of Page 2, with the panels now being vertical to pull readers to Derrick and the device he’s found. Throughout the book these background colors move the readers along. My favorite bit of coloring by Stewart has to be the last panel on Page 3. It brilliantly highlights Derrick and makes the scene deadly serious. The colors of this book are harsh reminders of the setting and markers for the reader. Overall grade: A
The letters: Journal entries, narration and dialogue (the same font), sounds, screams, and yells come from Nate Piekos of Blambot. This might sound odd, but I like the font used for the dialogue and narration of this book, and the other Alien and Predator titles that Piekos does for Dark Horse. With their thin, slightly stretched out line work the letters appear slightly futuristic–elegant, in fact. It makes this tale of horror and survival much more elevated. Overall grade: A
The final line: A great addition to the Aliens series that is full of wonders and screams. Worth your attention. 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.