In Review: Vampirella/Aliens #3

In space no one can hear a vampire scream or an alien hiss, but you can hear the fans cheer at this thrilling mash-up!

The covers: Dynamite is a super publisher for many reasons, but one reason I really like them is they always show all the variant covers in the back of their books so fans can know what’s out there if it’s not in their local comic book store. This issue lists the variants for this installment, but there’s one missing. It lists covers A, C, and D, but no B. I’m hoping that’s a typo. The A cover is by Gabriel Hardman with colors by Jordan Boyd. It shows Vampirella trying to make her way through a group of several aliens raising their hands to grab her. Hardman has put an appropriately nasty look on her face, matching the fangs of the monsters below her, but she is horribly outnumbered by the xenomorphs. The background colors by Boyd are great, matching the urban/industrial blight that these creatures are often found in. The C is the black & white art incentive cover, sans Boyd’s contributions. Hardman is one of my favorite pencillers, but seeing the covers for the first time with the colors, that’s the way I prefer it. The D is the “virgin art” incentive cover featuring the art from the A, sans all text. It’s wonderful and the one to chase down. Overall grades: A A, C B+, and D A+

The story: The first issue of this installment by Corinna Bechko starts in perfect Alien style: two men are trying to re-establish contact with the party that was has gone down to look into an ancient structure that contained vampire corpses. The two are rapidly hitting switches and come up with the last few seconds of the camera before it went out. With a turn of the page, the men, and the readers, see a xenomorph ripping a gun out of someone’s hand. They realize that what they’re looking at is not a vampire, with one adding, “Is it a coincidence that this happened right after Vampirella got here? She must have woken something up. And whatever it is, it does not like us.” The scene then moves to the title character and the sole human survivor of the alien onslaught trying to turn on their viewscreen to see what’s going on. There’s some very clever dialogue about how they are able to activate it, including a shout out to an infamous corporation, and what they see isn’t encouraging. The story then moves up to the space, where the crew discuss their options to save those below. I like Bechko’s transitions between scenes, just as something gets intense, she leaves readers hanging to go to a different locale, only to ramp up the tension there. She’s got a great ending line on 21, and, yet again, she moves elsewhere to show that the threat of the aliens has spread. This is fun! Overall grade: A

The art: Javier Garcia-Miranda has a quality in his work that reminds me of animation; thin linework that makes the images very sharp. The reactions of the two characters on what they’re seeing at the bottom of Page 1 is great, and an excellent way to show the contrast between them. The first image of the alien on Page 2 is nicely distorted, to show the poor quality of the recording, and I really like how it influences later dialogue that questions if the image is of a vampire. Page 3 has some good setting work, showing how vast the room is that the characters are trapped in, providing many locations for the aliens to jump out of. The technology that’s discussed on this page is explained well, but I was really impressed that Garcia-Miranda was able to make it look as visually understandable with the final panel on the page. The bottom of Page 4 mirrors the bottom of 1, and 5 has a great sense of motion as four individuals come up against an overwhelming horde. Pages 12 – 14 have a good action sequence, showing that the xenomorphs will not be a cake walk for Vampirella to best. The last page has an excellent example of size creating mood, and I’m glad that one individual’s face wasn’t shown, because the reader has probably got the same expression on his or her face. I like these visuals. Overall grade: A

The colors: Colors always stand out during dramatic or violent moments, and there are several moments in this book, but the sign of a good colorist is when the work is so good one doesn’t notice it unless one is looking for it. InLight Studios do a superb job on individuals’ skin. Look at the work in the first, third, fourth, and fifth panels on Page 1: the flesh tones are marvelously blended to make the one dimensional art practically three dimensional. I also must mention the nice toning down of colors for the two video playbacks, making both look old and technologically unsound. My favorite panel of the book is the one at the bottom of Page 6: I love the character’s face and hair, and the background has got some great blending as well. The artwork is strong, but the colors really bring this one panel to life. It’s the panel I can’t get out of my mind when I close this book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue and sounds are done by Simon Bowland. I really like the thin linework on the dialogue, which is a perfect match for the visuals, and I like how Bowland is able to insert big dialogue balloons so his text can be read, but doing so without stepping on the art. Well done! Overall grade: A

The final line: In space no one can hear a vampire scream or an alien hiss, but you can hear the fans cheer at this thrilling mash-up! Highly enjoyable. 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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