Acting as a sequel to the computer game Alien: Isolation and to the 12-part mini-series Aliens: Defiance, Aliens: Resistance see’s the return of several franchise characters and seasoned writer Brian Wood. Dark Horse Comics have a proven track record with the franchise, as can be seen with the recently completed Dust to Dust story line by Gabriel Hardman, so there is a lot of pressure to keep the flag flying high.
This new chapter in the saga has action, adventure and corporate corruption running through it, so it is off to an excellent start.
One character has been blacklisted by the all controlling Weyland-Yutani corporation, while the other is on the run from them after sabotaging one of their missions to collect xenomorph specimens. This means that from the very beginning Wood has a dramatic story to tell. His job is to unite the characters and give them a mission. This element of the narrative is very straight forward and will not come as a surprise to anybody reading.
Zula, from Wood’s Aliens: Defiance series, searches out Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley from the original movie and central character in the Aliens: Isolation computer game, to enlist her help in stopping Weylan-Yutani from weaponizing the xenomorphs. Again, the concept is not new to the franchise and has been the motivational force behind several of the films and even more of the previous comics. What makes this version stand out is the characters and their own personal motivations.
Wood brings together two survivors who have already been through more than their fair share of the Alien nightmare. He re-introduces the characters to the readers by building the relationship between the two women and by giving them a joint purpose. Both of these characters have a lot of background that readers may not be familiar with but the way that Wood handles the script means that it doesn’t matter. Like any successful first issue, everything you need to know is in these pages.
A large number of Aliens based stories have a similar story structure or theme and Aliens: Resistance doesn’t stray too far from that expectation. It is a story about ‘what comes next,’ about how characters seriously affected by a traumatic experience take back control of their lives. And, on some level, it’s about revenge. Wood is able to juggle all of these aspects of the narrative while still producing some wonderfully tense action sequences.
Robert Carey has produced art work for Batman and Transformers comics and is no stranger to Sci-fi or horror. He is able to create uneasy feelings in the reader in both empty spaces and in close quarters. One aspect of the Alien franchise that resounds through all of the best stories is the sensation of claustrophobia in the vastness of space. This is something that Carey does well. The atmosphere produced from panel to panel and page to page is all consuming. He gives Wood’s narrative a real sense of depth closing in.
One of the highlights of Aliens: Resistance is the magnificent scenery that the characters pass through. From the vast, empty, planet landscapes to the sprawling cities; the locations set the tone for the comic. Each section of the narrative starts with an establishing shot that leaves the reader in no doubt about the type of world the characters inhabit. It is breathtaking and wondrous to behold, but you also get the impression that danger is just around the corner.
Dan Jackson uses a very dirty color palate for the majority of the comic. This is reminiscent of the original Alien movie. Everything is smoke and grime. The central characters are grafters who live in a worker’s world, this is reflected through Jackson’s coloring where he only uses the occasional splash of bright color to highlight the modernity of a particular vehicle or Corporate sign.
Everyone involved, from Wood and Carey to Nate Piekos on letters and even Roberto De La Torre’s cover, adds to the overall atmosphere of oppression that runs through the story. From a visual point of view, this is an excellent Aliens story and an immersive comic book. As a continuation of the franchise, there is plenty here for long-time fans, but it is not necessary to have read any Aliens comics from the last decade or so.
Aliens: Resistance is an excellent start to a new story and ticks off everything required for a first issue.