In Review: Vampirella/Aliens #5

Exciting, frightening, funny, and one hell of a page turner. Recommended.

The covers: A threesome to fly after for this installment. The A cover is by Gabriel Hardman and Jordan Boyd showing the Queen alien from last issue flying after the vampire heroine. The xenomorph is enormous and rightly takes up most of the illustration, with Vampirella looking very worried about the odds in her situation. The coloring nice highlights the muscles of the monster, and Vampirella stands out because of her pale colors and the background smartly being lightened behind her. The B cover is the black and white art incentive cover that features Hardman’s work without Boyd’s contributions. I’m a big fan of Hardman’s work, but I do like it better with Boyd coloring it. The C is the “virgin art” incentive cover, giving me exactly what I want: the art, colored, and without any text on it. Very nice. Please don’t judge the cover on the picture accompanying my review; it looks much better than this poor scan I made. Overall grades: A A, B A-, and C A+

The story: The penultimate installment of Corinna Bechko’s story opens right where the cover began: the Queen has sprouted wings and is flying after Vampirella and Lars. Fortunately the alien is ignoring the vampire that’s just appeared, allowing the undead creature to morph into a giant bat and grab the pair. The trio escape the alien, which can’t get through the trees. They come to a door and quickly enter, though their safety is short. With the Queen on the loose and this vampire introduced, Bechko has definitely kicked the tension up, which had me tearing through the pages to see what would happen next. The surprise on 6 was great, and rather than show how this situation is resolved, the story cuts to what’s happening to the humans in orbit, with a fantastic video reveal. I did not expect to find out the history of how the vampires encountered the aliens, but it’s here and it’s great. Heck, this flashback could be a one-shot story easily (Hint, hint, Joe Rybandt…). In perfect fashion, Bechko keeps dropping surprise (Page 15, panel three) after surprise (16) after surprise (18). The reaction to this final surprise at the top of 19 was funny, gross, wrong, and perfect — that is exactly what that character would do. As if things couldn’t be more unexpected, the supernatural payback on 21 was awesome. I actually thought that there would be an easy escape for the survivors, but darned if Bechko didn’t find the perfect cliffhanger, whose action was stated earlier. You’ll have to read this story twice to see if you’ve missed anything while racing through it. Overall grade: A 

The art: I have become a fan of Javier Garcia-Miranda’s work because of this book. This title demands that action be strong, and it certainly starts strong on the opening splash page: he’s got the Queen in flight, the vampire striking a pose of frustrated rage, Lars running at a terrific angle, and Vampirella yelling a warning. The second page has a super transformation with Garcia-Miranda coming in close to the vampire to show how it dramatically changes itself. The look on Lars’s face when he sees the giant bat bearing down upon him shows more fear than when he saw the Queen. When the three have a momentary respite, he makes the vampire looks just as threatening as the Queen, with its head down slightly to always give it an ominous look. My favorite page in the book comes early, on Page 9, with it working sensationally. This is as close as this book has come to mirroring something shown in film — with that final panel inducing chills and laughs. The four pages devoted to how the vampires discovered the aliens look terrific. 19 also looks great, with the first panel being amazing. There are twelve panels on 21 and you would think that this would make the images so tiny as to render the story incomprehensible, but it doesn’t and each panel is absolutely necessary to show what’s occurring, and the reaction in the bottom two panels is priceless. Garcia-Miranda is killing this book every month. Overall grade: A 

The colors: Also giving serving up their A-game is InLight Studios. Alien movies have got to be dark to make every corner a possibility for a xenomorph to strike, but that can’t be done in a comic. If anything, more light — via colors — has to be given so the reader can see what’s being read. InLight does this. Things are dark when the Queen goes after the trio, but when the vampire transforms it’s wonderfully backlit with orange and then red to show the violent turning. The sequence ends highlighting the blood red tongue of the supernatural creature. When the vampire speaks, its dialogue balloons are black, while its lettering is white, which visually distances the character from the other humanoids. The flashback pages are the highlight of InLight’s work, with superb roses, reds, and oranges dominating every panel. Sounds are also colored well, with 20 and 21’s screeches sounding extra creepy in red. InLight is also rocking this book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Simon Bowland provides yells, groans, dialogue, sounds, screams, transmissions, and the most wonderful screeching on Page 21. Everything is bold and strong, as one would expect from an Aliens title, but that screeching stole the show. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Exciting, frightening, funny, and one hell of a page turner. Recommended. 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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