Review – Aliens: Defiance #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Tristan “T-Rex” Jones
Release Date: 27th April, 2016

It’s probably worth clarifying before we begin that this series has absolutely no association with Dark Horse’s other Alien-themed “Life and Death” event, and serves instead as a stand-alone story. This first issue introduces us to Zula Hendricks, a Colonial Marine who finds herself undergoing grueling, agonizing physical therapy after being injured in the line of duty. In spite of this, her refusal to give up sees her accompanying a group of Weyland-Yutani synthetics on a mission to claim a derelict – or not so derelict, as it happens – freighter, where she encounters… well… the clue’s in the title, folks.

While the plot itself starts off somewhat predictably (Weyland Yutani in “trying to capture a live Alien in order to weaponise it” shocker!), there’s a slight twist near the end of the issue which frames the story in a whole new light, and which should hopefully give it some serious legs as it moves forward. Above all though, this is clearly a series which is going to live or die on the strength its lead character, and Zula’s fear, determination and – yes – her defiance all do a commendable job of drawing the reader deeper and deeper into the story.

Writer Brian Wood is tapping into some fairly primal fears here, even if they haven’t fully manifested themselves just yet. Zula’s fear of paralysis as a result of her back trauma and ongoing rehabilitation is a fairly tangible one, and – as anyone who has ever had one of those dreams where something is chasing you but your legs don’t work can attest to – is not something you want to be dealing with on a ship full of Xenomorphs.

Tristan Jones provides the artwork, utilizing a detailed style that comes across ever so slightly grainy (in a good way, though). There’s a roughness to his linework that really pays dividends during the more frantic sequences, and his Xenomorphs are truly stunning, particularly when they’re in motion. He also does a fantastic job of portraying the emotions of Zula throughout the issue, from her determined reaction to her agony-filled back treatment to her sheer unadulterated terror as she encounters the Aliens for the very first time.

While the full scope of the story is only truly revealed during the final pages, Wood and Jones have crafted an impressively strong opening chapter for this latest Dark Horse Aliens series. While the bare bones may not be particularly daring, the strength of the lead character and the crisp, confident execution of both the storyline and the artwork make this an absolutely essential purchase for fans of the franchise, or simply for fans of science-fiction horror in general. Bring on issue two! Oorah!

Rating: 4.5/5.

You can pre-order a copy of Aliens: Defiance #1 from your Local Comic Shop until Monday, April 4th using PREVIEWS Code FEB160010.

In the meantime, if you want to find out more about the series, make sure to check out our interview with series writer Brian Wood by CLICKING HERE.

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The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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