Since 1987’s gloriously awesome Aliens film, the xenomorph franchise has not had a very good track record on the silver screen. Fortunately, the comics/novels have done quite a bit better. This month, Dark Horse brings us an all-new one by Brian Wood (writer) and Tristan Jones (art) that takes place between the first two movies.
Is it good?
Aliens: Defiance #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
- Always a good sign when we start things off on inside the classic UD-4L Cheyenne Dropship.
- Why do none of these characters have irises?
- Oh. That’s why.
- And that, ladies and gentlemen, is an early frontrunner for the most gratuitous/terrible cameo in a franchise comic.
- This android seems pretty cool…or pretty creepy. Hard to say at this point.
- As usual, the Weyland-Yutani corporation reveals itself to be the most horribly run business in the galaxy.
Is It Good?
Let’s start with the art. Tristan Jones doesn’t get very many pages of xenomorph action, but what he does draw is superb. From the straight up action sequences to the bloody (or fluid-y) demise of the victims, Jones’ game is totally on point. He also does an excellent job portraying the main character, giving Hendricks plenty of bravery and defiance to coincide with the series’ title.
The story’s real defiance, however, comes from the android she’s been stuck with, who does something quite surprising for a pre-Bishop era model. Unfortunately, his decision (which Hendricks agrees with) puts this story firmly in cycle of so many others from this franchise.
1.) The Company (Weyland) sends the protagonists on a mission.
2.) The Company doesn’t tell the protagonists what they’re walking into (xenomorphs).
3.) The protagonists find out and decide that Weyland sucks.
4.) Hijinks and shenanigans ensue.
Admittedly, the ‘hijinks and shenanigans’ in Defiance look to be a bit more proactive rather than an escape and/or survival plan—which could be really cool. As a first issue, however, the set up doesn’t provide much for us other than a slight variation on what we’ve seen before (along with an interesting main character).
There are also some paneling decisions that affect the flow of the story, particularly the flashback sequence. And that cameo…ugh. Maybe the character will have a role to play later in the series, but in the context of the issue, it almost felt like she was breaking the fourth wall just to make sure you knew who she was.
I normally enjoy Wood’s writing and I love the Aliens franchise (except for the last few movies), so it’s probably worth sticking around to see how the next issue is. If next month doesn’t give us something different, however, you may want to nuke this title from your pull list.
It’s the only way to be sure.