The conclusion to James Stokoe’s (Orc Stain, Godzilla: The Half-Century War) heart-pounding and terrifying tale is finally here! Will the resourceful engineer Wascylewski find a way to survive while being hunted by two Xenomorphs? It’s time to find out.
Dark Horse synopsis
With one last gambit aboard the space station, Wascylewski finds himself ambushed by two more deadly xenomorphs that will stop at nothing until he’s dead.
What’s the skinny?
The story picks up right where we last left Wascylewski. Our favorite engineer narrowly avoided becoming dinner thanks to a drunken Torrenson’s hysterics luring the xenomorphs to his location and away from Wassy (as he calls Wascylewski). As you can see from the photo I shared, the twin xenomorphs are done playing cat and mouse and quickly dispose of the drunk and delirious security officer. With Torrenson’s death, Wascylewski is officially the last crew member of the space station Sphacteria left alive.
Through a series of brilliantly incorporated flashbacks we witness the end of crew member Park’s story and the events that led to the circumstances we encountered at the start of this tale. Speaking of the start, there’s a little metal box that’s been around since the first few pages and it’s almost gotten Wassy killed several times. The obsession with the box and the lengths taken to protect it aren’t without good reason, as we quickly discover it’s the only hope our desperate survivor has. Inside are explosives that Wassy plans to use to separate a section of the space station from the main body and float away in like a lifeboat. With there being no other weapons on board, it’s literally the only chance he’s got.
From start to end this issue takes place in a matter of minutes. But there’s more nerve wracking action contained here than in the previously three issues combined. There’s so much tension here that at times I found myself having to unclench my fists.
What’s the catch?
There isn’t one. This is a perfect ending to what has become one of my favorite series of all time. I have nothing but good things to say about this creator and the story he told.
Is it good?
It’s hard to know exactly where to start. Maybe with the fact that it only took four issues for me to become a James Stokoe super-fan. Aliens: Dead Orbit has launched itself onto my all-time greats list and yeah maybe this isn’t one of the best stories ever told in the world of comics, but it’s without question one of the best stories ever told in the annals of the Alien franchise. Fans, prepared to be wowed.
I’m fairly certain I didn’t have a single critique for Stokoe’s artwork in the four reviews I did for this series. The painstaking amount of detail this guy puts in is simply ridiculous. I’d love to know how long it takes him to complete a single issue. Given that I started reviewing this series in March of this year and there are only four issues, apparently it’s a pretty long time (to be fair he also writes and letters it himself).
This is a story that doesn’t require words to be told. The lettering could be removed entirely and people would still understand and enjoy it. The artwork carries the plot on its back. All the most intense moments and best scenes are Wassy alone or evading the xenomorphs. The last thirteen pages don’t include a single word and they’re incredible. If that doesn’t make my point for me, I don’t know what will.
Perhaps my favorite part of this issue was how Stokoe incorporated his flashbacks. Panels with flashbacks had everything thrown together on the same page. There weren’t any boxes or line work to make the separation of characters obvious. Instead Stokoe used color to differentiate between the past and the present. When we’re following Wassy, his current timeframe is represented in dark colors and blue highlights. While during flashbacks the characters are all colored with red tones. There’s so much substance and emotion within the artwork during these sequences, it’s incredible.
When you think of the Alien films you think of isolation, survival, anxiety, darkness and claustrophobia. James Stokoe has tapped into all of those things and brilliantly displays what the core of this franchise is all about. Whether or not you’re a fan of Alien, you should be reading this comic. It’s like a good rollercoaster: it’s over quick, but it’ll push your stomach into your throat and scare the shit out of you.