Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Dave Gibbons
Artist: Mike Mignola
Release Date: 2nd September, 2015
It’s no secret over here at BCP Towers that I’m a huge fan of both Dave Gibbons and Mike Mignola, so imagine my surprise when I was made aware of this book. How have I managed to go so long without knowing it even existed?! To give some background on the book for first-time readers like myself, the book was first released in 1993. This was the same year as Hellboy made his debut in San Diego Comics #2 (the strip is reprinted at the back of “Seeds of Destruction”). It was also the year after Alien3 had been released, and Dave Gibbons had just come off the back of writing Batman Vs. Predator. So it’s safe to say that even at the time, it was pretty much match made in heaven, even if Mignola himself wasn’t quite well known as he is now.
Speaking of heaven (how’s that for a segway?), the story here follows the narrative of a cook on the ship Nova Maru, who is praying to God while telling the story in the past tense. It’s an interesting approach from a narrative point of view, as it makes everything seem that little bit more bleak. Here’s this guy, praying for his very life while descending into a spiral of self-doubt, cannibalism and… basically… doing anything else he can to survive, while still clinging on to some false hope that a deity is going to save him.
Oh yeah, and there’s Xenomorphs. Lots of them.
Stylistically, it definitely has the feel of early Dark Horse about it, which is by no means a bad thing. It’s dark and it’s gritty. With Matt Hollingsworth on colouring duties here, everything is more muted and noticeably darker than Mignola’s later work where Dave Stewart is primarily the colourist. We are treated to the usual super clean line work you’d expect from Mignola, with big patches of negative space and gorgeous, simplistic backdrops. The destruction of Selkirk’s character is evident throughout the book, as is Foss’s descent into madness early on.
Ultimately, this is a different story than we’re used to seeing from Aliens franchise, as it’s primarily set in a jungle, as opposed to in space (where, as we all know, nobody can hear you scream). However, Gibbons still manages to grasp precisely what made the original Alien film so great. Namely, the characters. There’s a level of characterisation here that sucks you in and has you rooting for Selkirk from the get-go, so much so that I was as surprised as he was when the first Xenomorph showed up. The comparisons to Satan when he “descends into hell” are also absolutely spot on, and go to show just what a perfect horror book this truly is.
Sometimes it’s a great thing when old books get a reprint, because people like me find it, and new fans are gathered. This is definitely a book I’ll be passing on to others time and time again, as it deserves to be read and not to fade into obscurity once again.
Oh, and if a studio were to pick this story up, I honestly don’t think anyone would be offended. Just saying…
Rating: 5/5. As if I would give it anything else.