Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer/Artist: James Stokoe
Release Date: May 31st, 2017
After a narratively solid and visually stunning opening issue, James Stokoe’s Aliens: Dead Orbit continues here as we delve a little deeper into the events on board the Sphacteria which led to Engineering Officer Wascylewski’s current state of isolation.
The actual nature of these events should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but Stokoe’s impeccable execution and clear affection for the subject matter helps to give the story a renewed sense of life, particularly during the “now” scenes which feature the terrified Wascylewski doing his best to survive on board the ghost ship.
Stokoe’s distinctive artistic style continues to invite comparison to the likes of Moebius and Geof Darrow with his intricately detailed panels and fluid sense of pacing. The level of detail he uses to illustrate the mutilated “survivors” of the deserted ship is particularly harrowing (as you can see from the artwork preview below), but it’s the frantic tension of the ghost ship sequences that really resonate, perfectly translating the feeling of primal fear that became synonymous with Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic.
It’s all about the atmosphere here, folks. That creeping sense of inevitability that frequently goes hand in hand with the best instalments of this iconic franchise. We know bad things have happened, and that more bad things are on the way, and that’s exactly what keeps us rooted in place, unable to look away as the horrors unfold.
Once again, it’s worth highlighting that the story itself isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, providing a familiar situation for anyone who has even a passing familiarity with this iconic property. That said, Stokoe manages to make the familiar feel fresh here with his kinetic enthusiasm and impeccable lines, fully embracing the ‘haunted house’ approach that made Alien so appealing almost forty years ago.
Beautifully rendered with a sense of frantic, claustrophobic horror throughout, Dead Orbit provides a welcome return to the terrifying grass roots of the Alien franchise.
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