After last month’s action-packed (and strangely xenomorph free) issue, Aliens: Defiance finally goes where I’ve always wanted: A deep dive into Zula Hendricks’ past.
Is it good?
Aliens: Defiance #4 (Dark Horse Comics)
- C’mon Hendricks. You know nothing good ever comes from listening to your voicemails when you’ve been gone too long.
- …except for providing a segue to a kickass flashback!
- Yikes. Not sure if Hendricks is the unluckiest person in the universe or lucky just to be alive.
- Her commander, however, is a heartless douchenozzle.
- …just when I was starting to feel 100% good about the Davis android.
- I can’t blame Hendricks for doing that, but I really hope she has a plan here.
Is It Good?
THAT’S what I’ve been waiting for.
For three issues, we’ve learned about Hendrick’s past via exposition and one-panel flashbacks. Now we finally get to see what really happened to her when during in time in the colonial marines, and it’s a doozy. Instead of going with a stock severe combat wound story, Brian Wood cranks the physical trauma up to eleven, then spikes it with psychological damage almost as painful.
Any soldier who has served in combat has experienced being overlooked and underappreciated, but Hendricks gets a sledgehammer dose of it from one of the few people who should have truly believed in her—and in spite of her 100% commitment and dedication.
On top of all that, we also get a new wrinkle to the Davis android that keeps him from feeling completely safe. Part of me didn’t want this (since I was starting to like him), but from a narrative standpoint, it works exceptionally well.
On the art side of things, Tony Brescini does fantastic work, particularly with how he portrays Hendricks’ conflicted feelings and emotional wounds. In the flashback battle scene, his work lives up to the tall task of portraying the horrific series of events that nearly broke her body and mind.
I do wish we got some more xenomorph action—this is an Aliens series, after all. But even if we don’t see another one for the rest of the series (ugh), the development of a great character like Hendricks and her tense alliance with Davis has become a welcome addition to the Alien franchise.
…along with all the dead xenomorph bodies we see floating around.
Add in some nice call backs to other parts of the mythos, and you’ve got a book that started strong and has steadily gotten better. The erratic shipping schedule and changing art styles may be hard to follow, but the great story makes Aliens: Defiance worth a spot on your pull list.