The cover: Poor, poor mutated synthetic Elden. He was injected with a genetic accelerant and it’s doing something utterly horrifying to him physically. Plus, it’s tweaking his personality as well. If readers have been purchasing Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone, they’ve been seeing Elden completely transformed, but in this series it’s only just beginning. The artificial man is curled up tightly with a xenomorph’s coil just below him in this painting from David Palumbo. It’s creepy and perfect for this book. Overall grade: A
The story: Things are rapidly going down hill for every character. Francis is on the run from evolving/mutating Elden. He was supposed to wait in the cave for Captain Foster to get him, but with the synthetic after him, he’s running through the wilderness, but that doesn’t last too long. Knocked down by Elden, the machine man rips the remaining skin from its face, proclaiming, “…I was wrong to be your friend. Wrong to keep your secrets. Wrong to trust you. But I feel smarter, now. I do. Smart enough to know the truth. Smart enough to tell you that, Francis, even in this infinite universe there’s nowhere to run.” Meanwhile, the crew is making their way to rescue the missing pair. Foster does not want to engage any of the native life forms, “So try not to piss off any monsters.” This draws a smirk from Galgo, who clutches his Engineer’s weapon with glee. Back on the Helios command vehicle, a group of familiar xenomorphs have discovered that there are humans inside and are doing all that they can to get in. This is a great three plot story that comes together brilliantly from Paul Tobin. Alien threats are coming in all directions, and heaven only knows what the alien accelerant is doing to Elden. There are some solid shocks in this issue, including Page 5, 11, 17, 18, and 20 – 22 being the biggest “holy crap” moment since the first film came out. Wow. Overall grade: A
The art: The visuals on this book are very impressive. The art is by Juan Ferreyra with color assistance by Eduardo Ferreyra. The first page creates a good state of motion with the middle three panels that have the point of view locked and the reader gets to watch Francis running from distance and then up close, with his pursuer blackened to make him sinister. When Elden tackles him the figures are in silhouette but streaked to show their rapid movement–that’s a nice artistic choice. Elden looks almost like a Terminator when his face is fully revealed, but that flesh pulling scene at the bottom of Page 2 is the stuff of nightmares. The crew looks great as they make their way through the wilderness, with the reflections of light and settings in their huge glass helmets incredible. The interior of the Helios is gorgeous in blue, making a calm and cool future, which does little to mute the scare of the first xenomorph on Page 4. The creature that attacks one crewman on Page 6 is just a nasty design of a monster and coloring it in red intensifies its actions. Page 12 has got one of the most impressive panels, and it has nothing to do with an alien. The third panel is a tight close-up of a character whose emotion perfectly matches their text and the shadow work done on that individual is nothing short of amazing. It’s the little details like that which make this book impressive. Overall grade: A
The letters: Transmissions, sound effects, dialogue, scene settings, and Helios ship speak are created by Nate Piekos of Blambot. There are several instances where characters put emphasis on certain words in their speech, so italics are used. In most books it’s very subtle, but with the thin lines of the text, when someone uses emphasis it’s for a good reason and readers can hear the stress on those words excellently. Well done. Overall grade: A
The final line: The tipping point has been reached and now it’s become a free for all. Who will survive? I can’t wait for next month’s final issue. 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.