by Chris Roberson, Patric Reynolds, Dave Stewart, Paul Lee
Like most Sci-Fi fans, I’m familiar with the Aliens franchise although I’m much more partial to the Predator series. I was convinced I had seen everything that could be done with Xenomorphs and chestbursters, but I was pleased to be wrong after reading this.
The crew of Hadley’s Hope (the colony from Aliens) mounts a desperate escape after being overwhelmed by the Xenomorphs. People are dying left and right, but about 24 people make it to a surface-to-orbit mining ship. Cale is charged with loading cargo onto the ship, but allows a small number of Xenomorphs into a container out of fear he would be left behind if this was discovered too soon.
The Hadley’s Hope crew make it to LV-223 (the planet in Prometheus) and find it lush with plants and organisms. Cale’s mistake is quickly discovered, as they open the cargo hold and are swarmed. Most of the crew make it into the woods, at the cost of having few supplies. Russel, an engineer, becomes obsessed with the remarkable changes on LV-223 while everyone else argues over how best to survive. His journey of discovery becomes the main crux of the story, and one more interesting than the story in Prometheus.
My main experience with Roberson’s comes from his Doc Savage maxi-series for Dynamite. His writing here is crisp and concise, introducing characters that I care about and ramping up the tension throughout the book. The tone is not unlike The Walking Dead in that the survivors of Hadley’s Hope are in a losing situation and their existence is a temporary state. The key difference is that the Xenomorphs are more deadly and cunning than zombies, and Roberson understands this very well.
Reynolds’ pencils are perfect for this book, shadowy and bleak but also instantly recognizable to the related films. Most impressive is how he makes all the characters (even the ones about to die) look distinct from each other. There is also good use of landscape scenes and birds-eye views of the environments.
The final story is a short one that fits into the beginning of Aliens and caps off that story’s direness.
Despite the great writing and art, there are a few hiccups. The Hadley’s Hope crew makes the odd choice of landing on a new planet, walking onto the surface and then remarking on their surprise that the atmosphere is breathable. Even if they scanned it beforehand and decided it was safe, this is not inherently clear and underscores why so many characters (even scientists) die in the franchise. The plot also uses a human/Alien hybrid twice, with only emotional impact resulting from the second instance. Despite the potential, I don’t think hybrids of any kind work in the Alien/Predator franchises.
Overall, this is a great horror/sci-fi story that should appease fans of the movies or even causal comic readers. The writing is on par with The Walking Dead at it’s best and the art in both stories captures the look of the films without sacrificing style.
Rating: Poor. Fair, Good, Great, Excellent