Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brian Albert Thies, Rain Beredo (Colours)
Release Date: April 26th 2017
Released as part of Dark Horse’s ‘Alien Day’ celebration, this extended one-shot finale serves as a conclusion to the company’s ‘Life and Death’ crossover event, attempting to deal with the fallout from each of the four issue mini-series, penned in their entirety by Dan Abnett. To accomplish this, the narrative is spliced in two to accommodate the remaining groups: those led by Foster, who have stowed away on the hibernating engineer’s ship, and the survivors on LV223, fresh from their battle with the Xenomorph horde, which ended with Chris’s noble sacrifice.
The opening pages examine the first of these threads and feature a fair amount of expository dialogue. In fact, it reads much like a plot explanation of the film Prometheus (which in fairness passed many a casual movie-goer by on the first viewing), functioning as an immediate hook into the story, whilst simultaneously providing a bridge back to the cinematic universe 20th Century Fox is attempting to create. It’s here where Abnett subtly hints at time travel, too; a plot device we’re sure to see employed in future (ha!) given the issue’s final piece of dialogue.
Over the course of the series, we’ve seen Abnett dive deeper into each of these previously established characters, which has fostered deeper emotional attachment to them. Exemplifying this aspect is Chris’s sacrifice, which forms the core of the second narrative thread and highlights once more Abnett’s skill for crafting a multi-layered, dramatic and emotional spectrum, but in the grand scheme, it spotlights a key component of the franchise as a whole; a strong female character willing to sacrifice everything to protect those she loves. The franchise is built on the shoulders of Sigourney Waeaver’s Ripley, after all, and it’s been wonderful to see the continuation of the archetype in both series.
Art duties for the conclusion fall to Brian Albert Thies, who brings a gritty, atmospheric aesthetic imbued with the requisite darkly oppressive mood. Strong inks ground the characters and make them feel substantial on the page, and there is clever use of texture and lighting effects in the action sequences. The odd panel apart, there is a dextrous tempo to the action and plenty of variation in construction to allow a shift of gears when required, whilst remaining visually interesting. Rain Beredo’s colours are fairly muted, as you’d expect, utilising brighter colours sparingly to provide balance and create a subtle difference between narrative threads.
So ‘Life and Death’ has come full circle, if you will, and this one-shot neatly brings the year-long event to a satisfying conclusion, whilst predictably – given the success of both this series and its predecessor – leaving the door ajar for further exploration. Whatever happens, there’s been an impressive marker laid down here, and it’ll take some doing to match it.
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The Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
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