Story arc: Dust to Dust.
Writer(s): Gabriel Hardman.
Artist(s): Gabriel Hardman.
Colourist(s): Rain Beredo.
Letterer(s): Michael Heisler.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.
Release Date: May 7th 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Horror.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
Have you ever fell in love with a story to the point where you could go day in day out looking for similar stories written by other creators but set in the same world? There are countless works of fiction that are seen as an homage to the original piece and essentially recreate, reimagine or expand the universe that took the world by storm the first time they graced our lives. Many see this as one of the greatest forms of respect similar to forgers in the world of artists as it shows that a person’s work is considered so good that everyone else can only look to reproduce it if they want to even reach that same quality or level of creativity. The Alien and Predator franchises saw a similar phenomenon over the years with the movies having blown out of the water the sci-fi horror genre. With over 40 years having passed since the first movie’s release, considered a cult-classic by most, if not all geeks around the world, it is only logical to see so many new stories being told with countless references to the movies.
What is Aliens: Dust to Dust about? This four-issue limited graphic novel follows the adventures of twelve-year-old Maxon and his mother as they attempt to escape an Alien infestation, clinging on to themselves in hopes of finding refuge somewhere far from the hot zone. As the story progresses, it quickly explores the intense and uncontrollable environment that affects the psychology of each individual but also the interaction between them within a group of survivors. Before they know it, the spaceship on which they find themselves becomes a death trap and only the wise can survive. Fusing together the suspense, intrigue, and action often attributed to the franchise, this latest graphic novel looks to offer fans the opportunity to watch the Xenomorph chaos unfold through the eyes of a child.
There is plenty to appreciate in Aliens: Dust to Dust but it all depends on how you want to see things. This self-contained story, written and drawn by Gabriel Hardman, heavily draws its inspiration on both Alien by director Ridley Scott and Aliens by director James Cameron. While it is accessible to any reader, it brings forth an episode focused around a child’s perspective, yet surrounded by an adult cast. Where it is much more difficult to unanimously love this short graphic novel is in the fact that a lot of the plot-related gimmicks are rehashed elements of the movies. Although they are molded within a different narrative, they struggle to be as captivating as they were in the movies because of a good old déjà-vu effect taking over the reader. Does that mean that they don’t hold up to scrutiny? Not at all. The story weaved together here still manages to deliver the franchise’s signature horror story without ever losing its grip on the reader.
There is often a tinge of skepticism when an artist is also the writer of the story they want to tell. The number of individuals who can juggle both jobs at the same time is so small that you just can’t afford to have high expectations with those stories. Fortunately, Gabriel Hardman’s talents allow him to efficiently construct his story by focusing on his strengths. In fact, the story is very light on dialogues and allows the artwork to take a life of its own to convey the themes of loss, despair, and hope. This director proved to be an excellent artistic decision for a story that dwells in the realm of horror. With the excellent colour scheme and the organized panel structure, it’s a lot easier to let the visuals do its work and set the dark, grim and ugly atmosphere that is so often associated to the Alien franchise.
Aliens: Dust to Dust is a sharp, somber and action-packed story that pays homage to the cult-classic movies that allowed the franchise to grow into the horrifying creature it is known as today.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
While it has nothing to do with this comic book, have you seen Alien: Covenant? The latest chapter in Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking Alien franchise.