Aliens: The Essential Comics Volume 1 by Mark Verheiden

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Title: Aliens: The Essential Comics.
Volume: 1.
Writer(s): Mark Verheiden.
Illustrator(s): Mark A. NelsonDenis Beauvais & Sam Kieth.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: November 6th 2018.
Pages: 368.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781506710037.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

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Back in 1979, director Ridley Scott unleashes a fictional endoparasitoid extraterrestrial specie into the minds of millions of fans as they are seduced by the strange alien creature and its stealthy ways to eliminate trespassers. While what made Alien such a cult classic was its atmospheric and highly-suspenseful story-telling, James Cameron, seven years later, achieved the impossible and built upon Ridley Scott’s work and delivered an action-centric sci-fi horror movie that continues to turn Ripley into the immortal and iconic bad-ass hero that she is now known to be. The explosive success of the franchise has then brought comic book writers and artists to create new stories and further expand the universe of xenomorphs before the world encountered the downfall of the franchise in David Fincher’s Alien 3. It is however safe to say that the cinematic universe continues to grow wonderfully with promising spin-offs and that there will always be a talented ensemble of writers and artists ready to explore the madness around these aliens like none other has done before.

In Aliens: The Essential Comics Volume 1, Dark Horse Books recollect in a beautiful paperback the first three stories set right after the events in Aliens (1986) and before Alien 3 (1992). Complete in colour on carton-thick paper, this volume presents fans of the Alien franchise the opportunity to discover Mark Verheiden’s launch of the Aliens comic book series, including Outbreak (1988), Nightmare Asylum (1989) and Earth War (1990). Sequels to one another, the stories essentially follows recurring characters Hicks, Newt and Ripley as they encounter a crazed cult, confront an insane war general and go on suicide missions to stop the potential world domination by our blood-hungry xenomorphs.

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What stands out the most about this collection is how far the Aliens lore has been developed thanks to Mark Verheiden. This isn’t just about androids, aliens and space-rescue missions. Humans become the center of attention in the madness that follows the discovery of these creatures and the stories highlight the monsters that we can be during those particularly deadly times. Mark Verheiden also introduces whole new creatures into the lore and leaves us feeling smaller than ever in a universe filled with unknown beings and their own crusades. Unfortunately, some stories end up introducing too much without giving some of its better ideas time to flourish, especially in Outbreak and Earth War. It’s stories like Nightmare Asylum that shine in its ability to be focused and grounded that makes this collection worthwhile. However, a lot of the plot elements that were featured in the first two movies are also rehashed in these stories and fail to convey any originality on that front. In fact, it led me to believe that this was intentional in order to give fans a quick fix they have been craving as they lived in the unknown on the possibility of a third movie in the franchise.

While each story was uneven in quality, the same could also be said about the artwork. As Outbreak was tolerable but sometimes odd and Nightmare Asylum was adequate and sometimes rightfully eerie, Earth War was wrong both in style and colours. The best part about this medium for this franchise is the opportunity to enjoy these aliens fully drawn-out in their majestic aggressiveness. Otherwise, most human designs are very basic and sometimes also quite confusing. In fact, in Earth War I had difficulty differentiating Newt from Ripley, which should never have been the case. While artwork might not be the forte in Outbreak and Earth War, Den Beauvais’ style does give you hope in the potential of the Alien franchise as a comic book. I’ll just have to see what the modern writers and artists have been able to deliver today now.

Perfect for fans of the Alien franchise, Aliens: The Essential Comics Volume 1 does a wonderful job in recollecting the first comics book stories that ambitiously expand the Alien universe and throws back at fans some of the best tropes of the franchise.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and Dark Horse Books for sending me a copy for review!

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This first volume takes place right after James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) and before David Fincher’s Alien 3 (1992). Check out the trailer to the classic sequel to the classic masterpiece now!

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24 comments

  • What!?!? NO spacehookers in fishnet spacesuits? I’m shocked 😉

    I only read the novelization of Alien 3 and nothing about it inclined me to go watch the movie, that is for sure. It is amazing how an idea can stick around for so long even when particular parts of it really fail (ie, several of the movies).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahahah nop, not here. But one of the stories in this volume does put adult-Newt in Ripley’s iconic white tank top and white underwear though! 😉

      Ohhh, yikes. Don’t think you’d find that movie in particular any better hahahah And yes, that’s true. I wonder if it’s just some false belief that they’ve created something “great” too… But at least the first two movies give us hope that a good movie with these characters is possible.. With the right writers/directors/actors. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is definitely a franchise that needs all 3 elements of storyline, actors and directors. If even one fails, the whole house of cards goes “plllllooooooof” and you end up with some seriously stupid movie 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  • The trailer posted above would not play for me, but that’s okay, because I still remember it, all these years later. It’s a thumping, building, techno beat, flashing violent images with no dialogue, right? The no dialogue aspect of the trailer is what really struck me at the time.

    “That’s it, game over, man.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • The trailer I had initially put was mostly a montage of some scenes in the movie. I’ve replaced it with another trailer that should work on the blog though. The trailer you’ve seen definitely sound great though, and clearly has left a nice impression on you too. 😀 I assume you’re a die-hard fan of the franchise? Have you seen all of the movies, including the prequels and all? 😮 What about the last one they released too? I haven’t seen the prequels yet, I will soon enough. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha yay! Glad to hear you’re fan of these Tammy! Ohhh yes, the comics were a pretty big dig after Aliens. Fans were pretty happy to get more of it, while waiting for Aliens 3 to be announced and released of course. 😀 There are still stories being released today too now. 😀

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  • This is fantastic when some characters alow the artist to get really creative and explore many facets of his art! You are right about the drawings aliens vs human!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I like how free they are to develop all of them and add so much more than what movies could allow directors! 😛 And yep, huge difference in quality regarding the aliens and human designs. I’m sure more modern stories are a lot better in that department now. 😀

      Like

  • I’ve always loved the Alien and Predator movies (since I was actually too young to really have been watching them but gladly did thanks to my Dad!) and Dark Horse’s comics were a treasure trove of exciting new stories for a young fan when we only had three Alien films and two Predators.

    I have all the older Omnibus collections of all the Alien and Predator runs and looking back there definitely is some inconsistency but there they did produce some good stuff. Have you read any of the Predator titles (there’s a similar Essential Comics Collection out for that as well)? The early ‘trilogy’ are pretty darn good, I am blinded by my die hard fan love but I think you might be entertained by them.

    What’s interesting about this release though is that they’ve since restored the comics to the original unaltered versions as they changed the names of characters like Hicks and Newt after Alien 3 came out. Ace review Lashaan and I love the terminology you use in your opening description of the xenomorph!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Had a pretty good feeling that you were a die-hard fan of the Alien and Predator franchises. I’ve seen a couple of them throughout my childhood and revisited Alien and Aliens recently to read this collection.

      Ah yes, I feel like some stories are definitely much better in writing and artwork than others, but I’m definitely invested. Can’t get enough those creatures after all! 😀 These new collections by Dark Horse technically give fans better binding and a better cover art for collectors. Unless you want to upgrade what you have, I doubt you’ll need to get these. Or maybe just to complete a collection of all editions, that would be another story. 😀 And indeed! They’ll be releasing the Predator: Essential Comics Vol. 1 soon too. It’ll probably take some time before all volumes for both collections are completely out in the market, but that will definitely give me the chance to progressively enjoy them for now! 😀

      Ohhh I’ve heard about those name changes! Really odd decision, but at least they’re now unaltered. Odder when the characters, especially Ripley, sometimes really does look like Sigourney Weaver hahaha

      Thanks for reading, man! I appreciate it! 😀

      Like

  • Wow I didn’t know there were so many things in the Alien franchise! 😮 I think I never even watched the movie…! I’m not scared of the creature but I have to say it doesn’t make me comfortable 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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