Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Tristan “T-Rex” Jones
Release Date: 25th May, 2016
Aliens has been a property that’s been very prevalent in comics for decades, and despite the fact that I’ve always wanted to dig into the comics, I just never got around to it. I think there was a big fear for me, because Alien is my all time favorite science fiction film, an absolute masterpiece if you ask me. But, everything after that? Crap. All of the sequels are just crap, I don’t even like James Cameron’s Aliens. I’ll shockingly give a little bit of leeway to the Alien Vs. Predator films. They’re both terrible movies, but they’re schlocky fun in my eyes. To me, the Alien franchise is something that just works better as a comic book. I don’t know why, but that film always felt like the perfect breeding ground for cool storytelling, which obviously is not to be found on the big screen. Dark Horse’s Aliens: Defiance is my first foray into the Alien comics and I must say, the geek in me is very pleased.
In the second issue of Aliens: Defiance, we find Colonial Marine Zula Hendricks and her unit of Weyland-Yutani combat synthetics (all named “Davis”) as they seek to destroy the Xenomorph alien species that their employer plans to weaponize. Zula reluctantly follows as Davis 01–a synthetic who has broken his programming and gone rogue–seeks to destroy every last remaining Xenomorph.
Issue two of this series picks up right where we left off, with Zula a kind of hostage with the Davis’. She’s not exactly a “hostage” in the traditional gun-pointed-at-you sense, but more of a “Hey, we’re doing this and you’re here so you’re coming along because it’s kind of your only option.” Although Zula feels like she can at least slightly trust Davis 01. I really like the characters we have here, with our only human character being Zula. With the first issue she was set up as an injured Colonial Marine sent out on this simple mission, but in issue 2 we really get a sense of her strength and will. She’s a genuinely strong character who you root for every step of the way. She’s very much the Ripley of this Aliens Comic-verse. Even Davis 01 has become a very intriguing character here, where we start to see that he is not like the other Davis’, but he is a synthetic who is compelled to take out this mission and has the authoritative skills to do so.
Atmosphere is something else that this comic nails. Even though Davis 01 doesn’t seem harmful to Zula, the fact that she is the only human character surrounded by robots that she can’t trust and aliens that are out to eat her makes for a constantly tense atmosphere. There’s always this sense of unease, even during “normal” conversations with Davis 01. The more we see Davis 01 grow as a character, the less that tension hangs around him, but certainly when it’s Zula with the other bots that tension still remains.
All of this is thanks to writer Brian Wood, who not only creates interesting characters and a cool atmosphere, but also a story that’s compelling and exciting to read. I flew through this issue, as well as the first one, quicker than usual because it just moves so fast and had me so engaged. It moves fast but it never feels rushed, it moves at just the pace that it needs to. The dialogue is interesting and natural, well natural enough for a woman talking to a robot, but it feels genuine while still keeping this rapid pace.
The conflicting topic here for me is the look of the comic itself, not necessarily the designs but more the coloring of the book. I’m sure I’m not the only one who read the first issue of this and was put off by the look of it, which looks like old school 3D animation that hasn’t been fully rendered yet. It’s a style that always takes me out of the story, just annoying to look at. But, for those of you who didn’t plan on picking up issue 2 because you were so annoyed with the coloring and look of the book, you should still check this out. It seems like by this second issue I’ve grown accustomed to the odd look, which really shocked me. The look of characters is much less jarring and in fact, a lot of the exterior shots of space and the ships are gorgeous to look at.
As I said before, the geek in me was very pleased with this. As not only an Alien geek, but a fan of compelling storytelling, this is exactly what I want from a story like this. It moves at a great pace, creating an uneasy atmosphere in a very hostile setting, with interesting characters and a story that fits right into the Alien universe That Ridley Scott and H.R. Geiger created with the first film. Even if you find the look of the book annoying, I’d say that it’s still worth checking out for the brilliant writing alone.
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: Mike Annerino
Mike Tweets from @MikeAnnerino