Aliens: Dust to Dust #2 picks up immediately where #1 left off, with Maxon in an escape ship where a Chestburster has just leapt out of his mother. The small group of survivors from the Trono colony who barely escaped the Xenomorph outbreak have to try to make it to space with a Chestburster on board. Does this issue keep up the action-packed pace of the first issue?
Thankfully, not quite. The first issue was all action from beginning to end, which was entertaining but left no time to establish who was who and why the reader should care. For this issue, writer and line artist Gabriel Hardman slows things down a bit and lets the characters speak, giving the reader their first impressions of the survivors. I can’t say I care a ton about any of the characters after finishing the issue, as they all feel a bit one dimensional at the moment, but it’s nice to at least get a sense of the dynamics amongst the group. Though the pace is much slower in this issue, it never grinds to a halt, as danger stays hot on the heels of the survivors, thwarting each idea they have for escape which makes the stakes feel higher.
The line art and coloration produce a much brighter issue than the first with comparatively less ink on the page. The pages where the ship is flying through a storm are heavily inked with gorgeous texture and the use of the color red from colorist Rain Beredo on the ship’s windshield really pops throughout the issue. With regards to character renderings, the line art here is more concerned with being expressive rather than clean or consistent, but I think it works for the mood of the story. The Xenomorphs are rendered expertly, looking as sleek and ribbed as fans of the franchise would hope. There are a few panels where I would’ve liked the coloration to be a bit less bright to better convey the tone of the danger at hand, but it isn’t a huge distraction.
Michael Heisler’s lettering was probably my favorite aspect of the issue’s art. There’s a panel where a Chestburster’s screech bends around the creature as it flips through the air and the lettering’s scratchy style expresses the moment expertly. It’s such a smart design choice and it made that panel my favorite in the issue. Other loud sound effects get similarly huge, expressive letters that travel across the panels and really convey the feeling of the moment.
Overall, Aliens: Dust to Dust #2 keeps the action moving well, but allows the characters more room to breathe so the reader can begin to care a bit more about who lives and dies. I’m still not hugely invested in any of the characters, so hopefully further development in future issues will remedy that. The art maintained a consistent style that conveyed the mood effectively and the lettering really shined in unexpected ways. The issue ended on an interesting note that makes me wonder about the protagonist’s motivations and what decisions he may make in the future.