Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Dan Abnett
Colours: Rain Beredo
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Release Date: 12th April 2017
Continuing the acclaimed story of Fire & Stone, this paperback collects the four-part Aliens branch of Dark Horse’s Life & Death storyline, and the quality writing and artwork that characterised the original series remains, albeit with a different creative team this time around.
Dan Abnett’s trademark of tightly constructed stories with convincingly fleshed-out characters and multiple threads are in evidence here, with us given reasons to invest in several characters and be genuinely interested in how their fates play out. From the company man to the abandoned wife to the USMC captain faced with the tough decisions and the stranded survivor making strange alliances, it’s all really well done, even if it doesn’t exactly mess with an already winning formula.
Indeed, that respect for and usage of the existing mythology is key to this comic’s success as it weaves together familiar threads from this well-trodden universe to create a compelling story without getting ahead of itself and seeking to reinvent the wheel. We signed up for an Aliens story and that’s exactly what we’re getting, so it’s all good.
The art from Moritat does its job excellently, conveying the sense of urgency and action that’s needed planetside and the chill detachment that characterises the USMC ship. Some deaths are appropriately sudden and other frames are used to build tension in support of Abnett’s script with no panels seeming out of place or extraneous. Appropriately, Rain Beredo uses the traditional Aliens palette with muted blues and greens dominant, occasionally thrown into relief by fire for added effect.
Essentially, this is a very well crafted and executed Alien story, which hits existing tropes in a compelling way, and while it leans heavily on the existing mythology I don’t think it would be challenging for a new reader to pick up and have an idea what was going on. If you dig the Aliens universe, you’ll dig this, and if you haven’t experienced it yet, this isn’t a bad place to start.
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The writer of this piece was: Chris Napier
Christopher Tweets from @chriscrowing