Friday, 3 October 2014

New Beginnings - Aliens: Fire and Stone #1

by Matt Puddy

When Prometheus: Fire And Stone came out we looked at how the universe around humanity was changed after learning that the creators weren’t so benevolent.  We saw the good Doctor Shaw and her alien head inadvertently lead a new team of scientists in their quest for knowledge. This week we see the same foreboding planet but from a very different perspective. Although it's part of the same arc as Prometheus, the one thing to remember is that this takes place before last week's comic in the grand scheme of things. With that it also answers a few questions too.

Chris Roberson – an author who was essentially a late bloomer in the comic world – takes a trip from the ill fated LV-426 in the wake of the alien ship being discovered and the xenomorphs awoken and onto a strange new planet.

Opening in the midst of a crisis, you - as the reader - are given very little aside from a brutal death and a lot of panic. With barely a narrator to bring you rapidly up to speed ,you find yourself in a pivotal point in the struggle for life and hopefully an escape from arguably the most deadly species in the known galaxy.

Characters are fleetingly introduced and a plan is quickly formulated. It’s clear that staying in Hadley’s Hope is a death sentence and the local area is just as bad so the only option is space. Jumping onto a ship that will only just get them in and out of orbit, a hasty escape is made at the considerable cost of human life.

The nice thing I liked about this is that with a small bit of magic Roberson fits this story into current cannon. As fans of the film will know in Aliens all of the colonists were either killed or captured by the Xenomorphs before the USCM arrive. However, fans will then think back to the film and realise that this was only alluded to and never confirmed leaving this convenient gap to be exploited.

After a bumpy exit and an even harder arrival on the local moon provides more surprises instead of solace. A previously thought uninhabitable moon with no atmosphere now has a wild and thriving jungle. Unfortunately instead of having time to inspect the new and unexpected surroundings, all hell breaks loose as their makeshift escape craft not only saved them but it also brought stowaways.

On an alien moon, with a biosphere that shouldn’t be there, with limited supplies and a predatory race of creatures hunting them what is there to do? Well now we know how the xenomorphs got to that moon, this series sets to find out what happened next.

The writing moves fast, but it has to so that it provides a feeling of panic which is what the story requires, at least in the first act that is. The lull in the story when the metaphorical breath is taken is only the calm before the storm, as then the pace picks up once again. There isn’t really time for character development as a result though, except for the bare minimum in occasional cases. This in itself provides a good vehicle for highlighting the main protagonists in the story, developing their personalities for the readers in a high pressured situation shows them in the true light.

Artistically the style is what I would describe as typical Dark Horse Aliens comics. Reynolds is a Dark Horse veteran with his accolades covering some of their big titles like Hellboy, showing that he has a diverse range as well. The images are clear, although not clean, and full of detail especially with the mechanical aspects (I liked the ship even though it is very boxy) and the xenomorphs are very Gigeresque and true to their type, so my fanboy side was happy.

All together this is kind of what I expected from Dark Horse as a new title and I was happily impressed as a result. Fans of the series will follow suit I would hope. I liked how it’s already tying in with the other story and we still have AVP and Predator to go too. All of these titles already on my pulllist!

Matt Puddy is keen to find out what happens next and with Alien Isolation out next week, it's a great time to be a fan!

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