JOINT REVIEW – Aliens: Fire and Stone #1 (of 4) (Dark Horse)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Patric Reynolds
Release Date: 17th September 2014
With Tobin and Ferreyra setting the ‘Fire and Stone’ standard with the first issue of their impressive Prometheus series, all eyes now fall on the team of Chris Roberson and Patric Reynolds to keep the early momentum going – and boy do they deliver.
Delivering a markedly different first issue from Prometheus, Roberson drops us right into the midst of a frenzied surge for freedom as the terrified inhabitants of Hadley’s Hope on LV-426 try desperately to escape the Xenomorph onslaught. This isn’t an action packed firefight, or a dramatic struggle as the brave humans try to stand their ground – this is survival, pure and simple. Mostly unarmed scientists fleeing in horror as they are gradually picked off one by one by their seemingly unstoppable pursuers. It’s utterly mesmerising stuff.
Reynolds does a stellar job with the artwork here; his rough, heavily-inked style only adding to the tension as the shell-shocked survivors find themselves trying to escape in whatever way they can. His shadowy, menacing depiction of the Xenomorph threat also merits special recognition, particularly the almost casual way they pick the stragglers off. This is a man who clearly ‘gets’ what makes these creatures so terrifying, and pours that almost primal sense of fear into every single panel.
A sublime slice of survival horror then, and an utterly gripping start to the second strand of Dark Horse’s ‘Fire and Stone’ arc. Forget the recent lukewarm movie offerings and some of the hit-and-miss comic attempts – this is how these franchises should be treated, and I absolutely can’t wait to see what the next two chapters – Predators and AvP – have to offer.
As a long-time fan of the Alien franchise, and James Cameron’s 1986 sequel in particular, this Fire and Stone event by Dark Horse is something I have been looking forward to for a long, long time. Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra’s Prometheus opened the series and set a very high bar in the process, and my concern was that the other creative teams would struggle to match such high standards. Fortunately, Chris Roberson and Patric Reynolds allay those concerns with a first issue that’s both stunning and terrifying in equal measure.
Preceding the events detailed in ‘Prometheus’, AFAS positions itself sometime during the movie Aliens. The story is relayed from the perspective of terraforming engineer Derrick Russell, whose quick thinking allows the surviving members of the Xenomorph onslaught to escape Hadley’s Hope, before crash landing on the supposedly barren LV-223. Along the way we are briefly introduced to the main characters via the inner monologue of Russell, who at this point would appear to be the group’s best hope of survival.
Whilst vastly different from Ferreyra’s polished style, Patric Reynolds’ rugged realism is no less impressive, from the harsh oppressive environments of LV-426 and LV-223, to the Xenomorph in all of their imposing, Giger-esque glory. Right from the opening panel, he is able to instil the pages with a brooding sense of hopelessness and chaos, as characters flee in all directions, terror etched on their faces. The Xenomorph are everywhere, seemingly inescapable, and intent on killing everything in sight; just as they should be.
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