The conclusion to Dark Horse Comics’ Aliens Resistance story line hits the shelves this week. It has merged the comic book world with the gaming world by uniting two central characters from each aspect of the franchise. Brian Wood’s reluctant hero Zula Hendricks has battled beside Amanda Ripley, the desperate heroine from the Alien Isolation video game.
What fate is in store for these two women and can Wood finally bring some Xenomorphs into his story?
Trapped on the classified moon as the day ebbs away, Amanda and Zula have to protect each other, keep the young Alec alive and reach the extraction point while an army of Aliens close on their position.
It is all out action as Brian Wood finally gives the reader an alien threat worthy of the franchise. The character development comes via the reaction to the desperate situation and Wood uses the fight for survival to highlight the best qualities of both Amanda and Zola.
Over the course of this series Wood has broken the characters down for the reader, showing off their different qualities. In this, final, issue of Aliens Resistance Wood brings all of that previous work together to show the reader exactly who these women are. By the end you are rooting for them 100%.
This story hasn’t been about the xenomorphs, not directly. Their absence has been obvious at times, leaving the comic with an alien sized hole it just couldn’t fill. However, this final issue brings the series to a close wonderfully. It focuses on the characters and compares the survival instinct against the need for vengeance. Like most of the best Alien stories, Aliens Resistance is about the human factor.
As the action picks up so does the dynamism of the art work. Whereas some of the earlier issues have been a little static, this is not true here. Robert Carey creates engaging compositions for the panels. Combined with an ever changing layout, the pace is much faster than previous issues and the reader skips from page to page until one moment where the script and the art slows the momentum down.
Carey creates an impressive sense of space. The vastness of actual space and the isolation felt by the cast is depicted in a number of different ways, shifting from large, non-descript backdrops to imposing dark foregrounds. Even during the quitter moments of the plot, the human characters are over shadowed by the scale of the location.
The color work plays a great part in this. Dan Jackson employs the use of light to change the mood within a panel. For some of the obvious, informative, pages the colors are crisp and bright allowing the information to be relayed. Other scenes, however, are color washes playing on emotion rather than exposition. It is during these scenes where the reader truly connects with the characters. The horror of the chest-busters is visual but hard to identify with but the loneliness and isolation of the characters is something that the reader can empathise with. Jackson captures the isolation of the characters succinctly with a single color wash over the heavy black inks.
The lettering is just as succinct. There is a clear definition between the speech balloons, especially when the characters on the moon are speaking to Davis on the orbiting spacecraft. A simple break in the boarder of the speech balloons, which is carried over to the caption boxes on certain pages, make the conversations easy to follow.
Nate Piekos has also expertly positioned the speech within the pages to lead the reader from top to bottom. This makes it pleasurable to read, especially in the conversation heavy middle sequence. Despite the pace of the comic slowing considerable at one point Piekos keeps the reader’s attention by breaking the speech up into less overwhelming, bite sized chunks.
As a series, Aliens Resistance has had its highs and lows. The lack of actual xenomorphs throughout the four issues has been frustrating, especially as nothing has really replaced them to create the kind of tension you would expect from an Aliens comic. However, the ending is very satisfying as Wood brings everything he has set up with the characters to a head. This issue, even with the Alien threat ramped up, proves that Wood was only concerned with characters and not interested in writing an action comic.
Out of the four issues of Aliens Resistance, this final one is the most successful. The plot, the characters and the art have all finally come together as a whole making for a satisfying and enjoyable read.