In Review: Vampirella/Aliens #4

Why wasn't this confrontation done long ago?

The covers: As with the previous issue, there are three covers shown on the last page of this book, for which Dynamite comics always deserves praise for showing collectors what’s available, but the identification of these covers presents concern: There’s a A, C, and D, but no B listed. What this B cover is, I don’t know, so good luck tracking that one down, fans! The Main cover, the A, is by Gabriel Hardman with colors by Jordan Boyd. It’s a composition of Vampirella, wearing her trademark red top, turning to snarl at the Alien Queen which has emerged from some foliage. I’m a huge fan of both artists, but this cover is difficult to make out the details in the art. Both characters are loosely constructed, especially on Vampy’s arm and the alien’s head. The coloring isn’t helping, with the light reflections being so bright that they seem like smudges on the art. This is a rare misfire from this team. The C cover is the Black and White Art incentive cover featuring Hardman’s work without Boyd’s contributions. The illustration looks much better without the color. The D is the “Virgin Art” Incentive cover, featuring Hardman and Boyd’s contributions without any text. This is just too messy for me. Overall grades: A C, C B, and D C

The story: On Mars, someone discovers that Marta isn’t going to be helping him out, but, then again, he’s not going to be helping anyone out anytime soon himself. As this is occurring, Norm and Tucker wonder if the area where the disaster has taken place has been “sterilized” yet. There’s only one way for Norm to find out: “Scrub the air in the vampire base. Then suit up. You’re going to take a look.” Meanwhile, within in the “vampire” base, Lars and Vampire are trying to figure out what to do as two xenomorphs are burning their way through a wall. There’s a hole in the ceiling, but they don’t know what came through that way originally. “True,” Vampirella says. “But we do know what’s out there.” She then reveals something about herself to Lars and she chooses what they’ll do. That’s a good thing, because the aliens have just come through the wall. Writer Corinna Bechko is keeping the action heavy and the tension high throughout this issue. I like that she has the xenomorphs in different locations, telegraphing that those who think themselves immune to their infestation will eventually come up close and personal with the beasts, the two protagonists are on the run, and the pair of characters who seem to be above all the carnage are unknowingly making their way to the creatures. The pace is really good: characters talk for a page and then move, with the next page followed by the aliens closing in, the characters talk for a page and run, the aliens close in, repeat. This constant back and forth keeps the humans — okay, human and vampire‘s fates always in front of the reader, with their pursuers never far behind. There is a two page sequence where Lars contacts his wife to tell her what’s going on, and this is likely to convince her to go to the surface. The last three pages of this issue have a good surprise on each, with the final one showing there is something more to fear than the aliens chasing them. Excellent, scary fun. Overall grade: A

The art: The artwork of Javier Garcia-Miranda is good. His style reminds me of one of my favorite artists, Ernie Colon, with its thin linework and excellent stylized characters, humans, vampires, and aliens. The bottom of Page 2 resembles a missing scene from an Alien film with the way Garcia-Miranda has composed the bottom panel. Pages 6 is a full page splash of a pair of xenomorphs charging in and I like that as one enters the other lets loose with a hiss that isn’t stated by the letterer, but is definitely implied. The action at the bottom of Pages 8 and 9 demonstrate a great sense of movement. The setting that the heroes move into is well rendered, looking futuristic and familiar. The reactions from Sarah as she’s listening to Lars tell as much of the story as does the dialogue on her pages, with her bugged out eyes smartly showing her fear. The reveal on 20 is as awesome/gross/foreboding as it should be, with the action that happens at the top of 21 perfect, just as Vampirella’s reaction to it is. I was completely unprepared for what is shown on the last panel on this page — which is drawn fantastically, as this has a xenomorph doing something I’ve never seen before. The final page introduces a new, and old, character to the story, whose entrance is as cinematic as the previous two pages. Every illustration on every page is working for me. Overall grade: A

The colors: InLight Studios does a very impressive job on this book. The Alien films are famous for the lack of lighting so as to allow the aliens to lurk in the shadows and then quickly appear. That’s the not the case in this issue, and it’s even creepier to see their menace in a brightly lit surrounding. The book opens in the garden center of the Mars, with one character encountering another, back lit by red in the final panel, alerting readers that something intense is about to be shown. This color is repeated when the male character sees Marta, and is repeated once again as Marta looks away from what’s going on behind her. This is some excellent, bright coloring. Greens are sickly colored in this issue to show the aliens using acid to make their way through structures. The stand out panel was the second panel on 9, which is terrific in several shades of electrifying blue. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene setting, dialogue, whispers, screams, and sounds are done by Simon Bowland. I love that when a character whispers dialogue the balloon that contains the dialogue is the same size as all other balloons containing text, however the font has been shrunk to show that the volume has decreased when it is spoken. It’s a little thing, but it’s highly effective. The sound effects are big and bold, carrying the type of volume one would wish to avoid if trying to elude aliens. As with the art, this is all working for me. Overall grade: A

The final line: The thrills don’t let up as two sets of foes are frantically trying to catch our heroes. Why wasn’t this confrontation done long ago? 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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