Alien #1 (Review)
Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by: Salvador Larroca
Colors by; Guru-eFX
Lettered by: Clayton Cowles
Being the creative team on a book launch like this must have really not been any easy task as the franchise has existed for decades and had been previously at home with Dark Horse in it's comic incarnations. While the films and previous books have been of varying degrees of quality, there is no doubt a large fanbase with high expectations especially now with no additional film entries currently planned. Do you write the book within the same timeline as the original 2 or 3 films? Or have the story set far in the future or in the past?
The book is set about 70 years after the events of the first Alien film, and following a new protagonist Gabriel Cruz who is a survivor of an encounter with the xenomorphs earlier in his life and his clearly heavily scarred by this event. The issue starts with Cruz's retirement from his role as security chief on a Weyland-Yutani station which we find out later on through his therapy sessions (with a familiar face) that Gabriel is really retiring due to a terminal illness and is motivated by his limited time to make amends with his past and more specifically with his son. His son ends up being a part of a anti-corporate terrorist organization which will more than likely pull Gabriel back in as their target is Weyland-Yutani.
This is a very different story and probably not what many readers would have expected but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The emphasis is clearly on fleshing out Cruz as the main protagonist and explore the consequences of encounters with Xenomorphs that we really never saw with Ripley. She clearly had consequence of her own, losing decades of time and clearly having PTSD from her encounters, but the focus on the stories explored in the films was more action focused and less on real world effects of Ripley away from the action. It's hard to tell from this first issue if this approach will pay off in the end as unfortunately this approach does mean there was a limited amount of horror as it was more teased than showcased and the story itself can ultimately lead to more melodrama than an actual character focused drama depending on the execution but that remains to be seen.
The art by Larroca is varies from great to good depending on how much uncanny valley is present during the more expressive panels. The art as a whole is implemented well, it's just that some panels seem either photo referenced or just off, especially during the more conversation focused scenes. The few action focused scenes do standout, especially toward the end of the issue as Gabriel's son's group infiltrates a lab that results in a gory action scene.
The issue overall is a serviceable start to this new Alien series from Marvel but it will really depend on how the future issues are executed to see if this becomes a real standout entry into the Alien universe or ends being forgettable. Enough was seeded in the first issue that could lead to a well realized and developed story that I very much look forward to seeing.