Aliens: Defiance #1
Writer- Brian Wood
Artist- Tristan Jones
Dark Horse Comics continues their long partnership with 20th Century Fox in publishing titles based on the 1979 Ridley Scott horror classic Alien, as well as its sequels. Brian Wood (The Massive, Moon Knight) scripts this new series set between the first and second films, with art supplied by Tristan Jones (TMNT, Ghostbusters). I am admittedly a sucker for all things Alien, and although the comics have generally varied greatly in quality, the Wood pedigree was enough to get my interests raised. Bonus points to the fact that Jones impressed me greatly with his work on Vertigo’s comic prequel series to Mad Max: Fury Road. Suddenly this 12 issue series hit my must read list.
Wood knows that when dealing with a beloved franchise, the key to success is giving an original spin on the storyline, while supplying the reader with enough touchstones to the source material and its aesthetic as to remind them what they love about these stories. Wood gives us a strong female action lead, practically invented by Scott in his original film. This time we are not following Ripley though, who would be drifting in her 57 year stasis slumber at this point in continuity. Instead we get Zula Hendricks, a Colonial Marine recovering from a serious injury on a base located on Earth’s moon. After undergoing treatments to heal her wounds, Zula is assigned a simple task. Escort a squadron of Weyland – Yutani security androids to a derelict spacecraft in the moon’s orbit. What is to be a quick mission involving transferring codes for salvaging rights becomes a disaster, as the ship is found to be overrun with those pesky damn aliens. The squadron of drones and Zula fight off the creatures long enough for them to get sufficient breathing room. I will stop with anymore plot description, as a turn is taken that I did not expect, and the remainder of the series rests on it. Needless to say, I am in for the long haul. Wood not only succeeds in creating a strong heroine, but he also nails another recurring character type in the Alien universe; the synthetic. Here, we are given Davis, android leader of the security force Zula escorts. Davis has a plan, and Wood’s writing adapts the undertone of distrust that we as an audience have been saddled with ever since Ash tried to suffocate Ripley with a rolled up girlie magazine. Can Hendricks trust him? I have no clue, and that’s half the fun.
Tristan Jones is a talent to watch. His art immerses you in all the familiarity of these films visual grandeur. The spacesuits, the computer displays, oh and the aliens. Lanky, black and all jaws and teeth, each panel asks to be slowly poured over to immerse yourself in all the fine detail. The action scenes are clear and easy to follow, which at times in the films is something that can’t be said. I am hoping that this series gets this young Austrlian talent some more notice and work, if at the very least more work on Aliens series in the future.
It is not easy to breathe new life into a franchise that hits 37 years old soon, but Wood has at least in first issue and assumed plot direction done just that. There has been a resurgence of interest in this saga with promise of a new film, Alien: Covenant due in 2017, and a slew of other comics and video games having been released in the last few years. If any of that stuff didn’t tickle your Alien itch, listen to your best pal John and give Defiance a shot when it releases, it’s cooler than Hudson in a rough situation.
Five Stars of Five
Aliens: Defiance scheduled to release April 27th, 2016 Advance supplied by Dark Horse Comics