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William Gibson’s Alien 3 #3 Review

Despite some marginal misgivings, it’d be an outright lie to say issue #3 doesn’t build full anticipation for issue #4.

Johnnie Christmas
Price: $19.89

Akin to James Cameron’s Spider-Man or the screenplay for Kevin Smith’s Superman Lives, William Gibson’s unproduced script for Alien 3 is renowned within the nerd culture community with regard to cinema we’ll likely never see on screen. Like the aforementioned would-be blockbusters, Nueromancer scribe Gibson’s take on the Alien franchise has been passed around in PDF form online and at various cons as a prime example of a shot at sci-fi cinema that’ll never see celluloid life. Fortunately for fans, Dark Horse alum Johnnie Christmas (Angel Catbird, Murder Book), is adapting Gibson’s Alien 3 screenplay into a five issue comic book miniseries, the third issue of which newly available at a comic shop near you.

Issue #3 reintroduces fans to Bishop, the soft-spoken synthetic first seen in 1986’s Aliens. Returned to Colonial Marine/Weyland-Yutani space station Anchorpoint with restored legs as part of a diplomacy bid by the Union of Progressive Peoples (Gibson’s intergalactic stand-in for the former U.S.S.R.), Bishop is assigned to test and monitor live cultures developed from xenomorph DNA found on the U.S.S. Sulaco. Bishop’s taking on this position after (spoilers) a contagion outbreak exposes biolab tech Tully to infection, causing him and his ecologist partner Spence to be booted off the project. Meanwhile a full sized xeno stowed away in one of the Sulaco’s damaged cooling units, newly brought into Anchorpoint’s docking bay as the U.P.P.’s rival fully grown specimen is wreaking havoc over at their respective base. As the issue comes to a close, Spence, Hicks and a handful of others concoct a plan to break into the lab and destroy the alien specimens before those double jaws bite off more than they can chew.

Early renditions of what we’ve seen in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Alien: Covenant can be seen here (experimenting with alien genetic goo, people getting infected via alien spores, shower death scenes, antagonistic company blondes stoically delivering detrimental orders from above, etc.). As someone who rather vocally dislikes the Scott prequel duology, this isn’t entirely a plus in my book. However, from a purely academic perspective, it is interesting to see where these motifs and concepts originated from and how writers with 20th Century Fox managed to recycle them for cinematic use. 

Unlike the overly expository second issue, issue #3 is nothing if not momentous. All points within the plot are converging and characters are finally being called to action. Whatever misgivings the story may inspire (be it the non-utilization of Ripley, the precursors to Prometheus or the sometimes muddled alien lifecycle), it’d be an outright lie to say issue #3 doesn’t build full anticipation for issue #4.

William Gibson's Alien 3 #3
Is it good?
Unlike the overly expository second issue, issue #3 is nothing if not momentous. All points within the plot are converging and characters are finally being called to action. Whatever misgivings the story may inspire (be it the non-utilization of Ripley, the precursors to Prometheus or the sometimes muddled alien lifecycle), it'd be an outright lie to say issue #3 doesn't build full anticipation for issue #4.
Art courtesy of Johnnie Christmas (Firebug, Sheltered) reintroduces fans to the world of Alien in loving detail.
Plot kicks into gear building momentum for the unfolding story to come.
Hicks, Bishop and Newt are back.
Ripley is sidelined.
Allusions to the Cold War are dated.
The story, setting and character seem, at times, too enraptured in Cameron’s second film to break new ground of its own.
7
Good
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