In Review: Aliens: Fire and Stone #3

I am revolted and intrigued, and I cannot wait to see how this ends.

The cover: A human skull is being held by a xenomorph, just barely seen coming out of the darkness. Some drool is dripping out of the creature’s mouth and onto the skull, showing that the beast is hungry for more flesh so that it can grow. The composition of this image by David Palumbo isn’t content exclusive to this comic, as it could be put on any Aliens comic, but it looks great. If someone were to know nothing about the franchise this image would tell them all they need to know. Overall grade: A

The story: The penultimate chapter of this series by Chris Roberson begins with a trio of survivors from Hadley’s Hope searching for food. They see bat-like creatures in the trees and ponder how they would taste, when another member notices how anything that grows around a mysterious black goo develops strangely. Before they can consider it further a xenomorph descends from the trees, killing one of them. This alien is different from the others as it’s absorbed, or fused with, crew member Luiz–his torso, arms, and head protrude from the monster. The surviving two run back to the compound with the alien in pursuit. It bursts through the gate killing more people until it is put down. In the wake of this horror a character makes a revelation to the rest of the survivors and things don’t go well for that individual. His past error spurs him into action that could become deadly. Still holding back on information he’s stumbled upon is Derrick, who continues to learn things. This issue definitely falls under the category of “just when you thought things couldn’t get worse…” Fans that have been reading this series have been waiting for the moment when it all hits that fan, and that occurs on Page 12 of this issue. From this page on it’s going to be the life or death struggle that readers knew would have to happen. “Sorry,” has never been a creepier word. Roberson has just enough mystery of the planet to keep fans of the franchise wondering what’s going on and plenty of shocks to keep the new readers, and the old, entertained. Overall grade: A

The art: This series continues to show that Patric Reynolds is a good choice by Dark Horse to illustrate this book. His humans are incredibly life like, which makes the horror of what happens to them very real. One just has to see a character turn their head to feel the fear they’re living with, such as at the bottom of Page 1. Pages 6 – 8 are a nice gathering of characters as they hash out their differences. Derrick, though, is the scene stealer. Just a look from him as he gazes beyond the reader’s perception (bottom of 8), giving him a disturbingly real quality where one can see the wheels turning in his head as he considers telling the others what he’s found. The aliens look great, and when they are combined with humans, such as Luiz in the opening pages, it’s just disturbing. It’s bad enough seeing these things hunt and kill, but when combined with a human they would give Clive Barker nightmares. Page 12 is a good payoff, with just enough showing to let the character and the readers know that it’s officially hit the fan. I am mixed on the backgrounds by Reynolds. Often the colorist has to fill in the blank spaces, and there are several. This makes me really want to see how the original black and white artwork looked, because it might have been better had it not been colored. Still, this book looks terrific under Reynolds’ work and I want more. Overall grade: A  

The colors: There are some impressive panels on this book because of Dave Stewart’s contributions as colorist. However, they’re so subtle one must really pay attention to the fine work he’s doing. Take Page 1. This is supposed to be a fairly dreadful world, and it is–the sky is grey and the fields and forests looks as though it’s eternally fall. But take a closer look. The sky isn’t just a solid blob of grey. Stewart inserts other colors into it to give it a painted look, such as rose and peach. This same coloring effect is applied to the characters. Look at the clothing and face of the individual who says, “What was that?” For such a depressing environment and situation, the coloring is beautiful. This is done throughout the book, making the already fantastic visuals better. In fact, there often isn’t any background in panels and Stewart uses his skills brilliantly to fill them. I loved this. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The talented Nate Piekos of Blambot closes out this list of talented artisans with some great lettering, contributing scene setting, dialogue, sounds, screams, yells, whispers, and one character’s new dialogue font. I love the thin lettering on the dialogue, giving this book a futuristic feeling. Overall grade: A

The final line: I say this in the best possible way: this is one bizarre science fiction horror. Aliens was already a creepy enough franchise, but with the black goo and the alien-human combinations, it’s truly gone where no man has gone before. I am revolted and intrigued, and I cannot wait to see how this ends. Overall grade: A 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five 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.
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