FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
For over thirty years, Dark Horse Comics have had the Xenomorph market covered. So extensive have been the misadventures of Ridley Scott’s aliens that they’re as much a comic book staple as they are a cinematic megahit. And now, owned by the Weyland-Yutani of the entertainment world, they’ve begun to infest the Marvel universe. Sort of.
The Xenomorphs stay firmly in their own little universe in this, the first issue of Marvel’s Alien. Written by Phillip Kennedy and illustrated by Salvador Larroca, it picks up 21 years after the events of Aliens. Retired mercenary and Weyland-Yutani man Gabriel Cruz returns to Earth after an extended absence from the planet – and his estranged son. Haunted by his own encounter with the Xenomorphs, Cruz suffers from horrifying nightmares and traumatic memories.
As one has come to expect from the first issue of an Alien comic, Scott’s iconic monsters are only briefly glimpsed here and there, and Kennedy and Larroca spend most of their time setting up the story and atmosphere. While Disney/Marvel do own the Dark Horse back catalogue, Kennedy’s take stands on its own two feet, requiring no background reading outside of the first two movies. There are shades of James Cameron’s sequel to its story – traumatised survivor struggles to move on and adapt – particularly in its cameo from a Bishop model therapist.
While Larroca’s art looks good – and very much nails Lance Henriksen’s craggy mush – it’s not always a good fit for the story. Where Dark Horse’s books favoured more experimental art styles, Larroca’s feels a little too clean; too polished. Still, his Xenomorphs look awesome, and any fears that the gore would have to be dialled back for the folks at Marvel are more than allayed, already.
After thirty plus years, there are only so many ways you can set up an Alien comic, and this first issue does feel like re-treading old ground, but it’s a solid enough start.