In Review: Aliens: Rescue #3

Some neat reveals and a surprise turn by the xenomorphs make this a fun read.

The covers: A pair of different frontpieces to pick up for this penultimate issue. Roberto De LaTorre is the artist on the Main cover. An iron mask is surrounded by an alien’s tail. At least that’s what I think is on this cover. I bought a physical copy and it’s so dark I can’t make out what this is supposed to be. If it is a mask, I have no clue how this fits in with this series or this installment. This cover leaves me frustrated. Better is the Variant cover is by Mack Chater. An alien dominates the left side of this illustration, it’s mouth open wide before it strikes. Standing before the creature is the Alec Brand, who looks indifferently at the creature. I like the design of this and the colors, with violet used very effectively for highlights, but its effect is lessened with the Marine looking especially blasé about death before him. Overall grades: Main D+ and Variant B

The story: In classified space a unit of Marines makes their way through some mountains on a perilous path. Among them is Alec Brand. He thinks about how it’s so strange for him to be working with his heroes, Amanda Ripley and Zula Hendricks. Walking behind Zula, Alec asks what happened on the planet where he last saw her and Amanda. “It was a nuke, Brand,” she says. “Big flash of light. Lots of heat. Davis was smart to do what he did.” He tells both women that they’re leaving out part of the story, adding, “You saved my life. Everything I am now is because of you two. I just want to know what happened.” That’s the big reveal in this story by Brian Wood. Flashbacks interrupt the Marine’s story in this issue. The first flashback shows that the women weren’t alone on the doomed world. The second shows a surprising reveal of who saved them. The final flashback shows that the women had a plan, but whether this plan was successful or not is never revealed. Instead, the action in the present moves along quickly. The Marines are tracking the xenomorphs that appear to moving in a specific direction. High above, Davis monitors the military unit and the creatures’ progress. Page 14 starts a terrific moment that runs through 19. These pages are reason enough to pick up this book. The story ends on a cliffhanger with a character making a dramatic decision. Oh, yeah. I’ll definitely be picking up the conclusion. Overall grade: A-

The art: The first page of this issue is very cinematic as the unnamed world in classified space is show. This is followed by a computer readout of the terrain that resembles the scans from the first film — love it! This is followed by a distant shot of the Marines making their way through the mountains before ending with a low close-up of the soldiers with Alec distinguishing himself to look behind himself and at the reader. This is great visual storytelling without any unnecessary text. The pencils for this issue are by Kieran McKeown with the inks by JL Straw.The settings are good in this issue and I really like how Alec looks appropriately young. Davis’s first appearance is on the third page is neat and his design is not unlike similar things that can be found in the world today. I like when the look of science fiction objects are grounded in actual things. Page 5 is the first flashback and I really like how it shows the women and the surprise they encounter. Pages 6 – 9 have the humans gathered around a fire for the night. No one is moving, so it’s really on the artists to make this visually interesting and they do, moving the point of view around in every panel. The shock that ends 8 is well done and its counter at the bottom of 9 is also impressive. 10 has the first big visual shock of the issue. This character’s design is delightfully creepy and had me on edge throughout this individual’s short appearance. The distant image that ends 11 is terrific, making the dialogue spoken especially shady. Starting on 14 the most intense visuals of the book begin. The number of characters shown on 15 is great and the aerial view on the next page only increases the dread of what’s shown. The final panel on 17 made me utter, “Oh hell.” There’s only one sound on Pages 16 – 18, making every panel a possibility of doom. I have to praise both artists for being able to have all this action happen in the rain, yet still make the images absolutely clear for the reader; it’s rare to see this happen and is much appreciated. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Take note of how the blue-green world that opens the book transitions smoothly into the light green computer readout of the planet’s surface. This is only the first time Dan Jackson uses colors to provide transitions in the tale. I like how distant mountains on the opening pages are lighter than the path the Marines travel, making them seem farther away. The bright yellow and white that ends 4 is a nightmare, which allows the harsh oranges that dominate the next page to be appropriate. Notice how the dark oranges are repeated for sundown at the start of the next page and transition into those used for a fire. The next four pages are set around a fire at night, but Jackson never has the darkness overwhelm the panels and I appreciate being able to see the visuals clearly. The dominate color of the new character on 10 is frightening. The downpour that engulfs the final pages is dark, but, like the fireside discussion, still easy to see. The one sound that occurs on 17 is like a gunshot. It’s brilliant. Overall grade: A

The letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot creates scene settings and credits, narration, dialogue, transmissions, weakened speech, and one sound. The scene settings and credits appear as if pulled from an Aliens film, giving the visuals an authentic element. The narration is differed from the dialogue by being in italics. Also in italics are transmissions, which makes sense because they have a mechanical sound to them which suits their speaker. Weakened speech is in a smaller font surrounded by quite a bit of empty space to make the speaker sound frail. There’s only one small sound, but it’s enough to take your breath. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Some neat reveals and a surprise turn by the xenomorphs make this a fun read. The story answers some questions from the previous series, as well as creating some new ones. The visuals are the best yet, with the colors adding to the dramatics. Even the letters are deserving of special praise for capturing the feel of the films. This is an Aliens comic working on every level. Definitely worth checking out. Overall grade: A

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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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