‘Newt’s Tale’ is an example of an absolute gem from the early days and sports a great John Bolton cover painting.
Aliens: Newt’s Tale
Published by Dark Horse Comics Published 1992
Writer: Mike Richardson Penciler: Jim Somerville Letterer: Pat Brosseau Colorist: Gregory Wright
This was one of 39 different mini-series and one-shots based upon the Alien/Aliens movie franchise that was handled so well by the folks at Dark Horse Comics. For over 30 years, Dark Horse was pretty much the sole publisher of Aliens comics, starting with the comic Aliens: Outbreak (originally titled simply Aliens) in July 1988. ‘Newt’s Tale’ is an example of an absolute gem from the early days and sports a great John Bolton cover painting.
This two-issue story was based on writer/director James Cameron’s original screenplay and has all of the atmosphere, horror, and tons of action we found in the Aliens film. That’s no mean feat, transferring films well to comics. It is everything you want in a two-book mini-series, it’s so deeply true to the original Aliens film that any fan of the film would be hard-pressed to not be engrossed and invested in it.
Just a little side note if you haven’t already read “Alien the illustrated story” by Goodwin and Simonson published by Titan Books that would be the perfect aperitif. The Dark Horse original three series sit well in chronological order with this offering, (Book 1, Book 2, and Earth War). They form a much better sequel to Aliens than Alien 3 since they involve a great Newt and Hicks dynamic and if you haven’t read them you might want to check them out too. Thank me later!
While this novel is recognizably true to the film this encounter is told from Newt’s perspective and includes more back story and the much-needed new material to really get this fan’s juices flowing. The plot development centers around the Xenomorph infestation at Hadley’s Hope. The overrun prospectors can only find hope in the wait for Ripley and the Colonial Marines to arrive.
The transition into the marine’s arrival transported me to the tender moment when Ripley finds Newt in the film and the action moves along well from there to an exciting can’t wait for book 2 nail-biting conclusion. The Xenomorph art is original yet familiar. These creatures aren’t posed, traced, frozen, or toy-like. These are original and appear sparingly and menacingly in an impactful way that adds terror and horror in equal measure. I find the character drawings charming. There is color and shadow mixed well with the expressions that follow the tension and action. Not one part of the team let this comic down. The only criticism I’d have is I wish this iteration of Ripley was drawn a little closer to other, slightly sexier, iterations or her at the time.
This is very much a comic that takes place in the same universe as the early Aliens but it isn’t a story that is chained to their lore; the references are there for lovers of the franchise but they are like sprinkles of connection rather than heavy investment.
Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by: Salvador Larroca
Released: July 2021 Published by Marvel Comics
This first foray into the Alien universe for Marvel has had many a critical eye from its considerable fan base. I’ve found the issues so far have been limited in true horror scares as they focussed well on a more action based theme. This issue is well written and the lettering flowed to compliment the pace and developing many a possible twist. The central theme finds a good blend of characters descending into the bowels of the infested depths of the Epsilon station Alien hive.
Is that Mark Wahlberg or Gabe Cruz on the cover of this issue with a poorly painted Bishop sandwiched between two Aliens? The covers and variants of them to date have been pretty solid but this one really isn’t my cup of tea. The veins on the foreground Alien are just a little too veiny in their phallic tones where the original art of H.R.Giger’s Aliens were more subtle in their sexual inferences. The hand placement on the foreground creature reminded me of a frozen Bela Lugosi which was entertaining but looked more tame than frightening.
There wasn’t much in the way of claustrophobic tension that I would have expected in entering the Alien hive. As the main plot point of the issue, the livestock originated ALPHA sample is depicted well but like the cover just doesn’t have the crescendo and fearsome factor of other Alien art such as the early Dark Horse Comics heavy black ink work.
There are big strides in this issue to push the story forward. Despite being a bit lighter on action than previous issues, there is a flowing momentum that helps elevate the danger the characters are in. Bishop’s functional android personality makes a great contrast with Cruz’s sombre and battle worn soldier disposition which helped me feel invested in the story. I really enjoyed the interactions between them especially in light of the early plot build of them being in a counselling relationship from issue #1.
What could have been big reveals were a little flat in what could have been a seminal fright moments for a Marvel taking the franchise by the scruff of the neck first arc. There are still many directions this story could take and overall I think Marvel may be feeling their way into stories and the genre for the future. It really is a tough fan base to please. They certainly have the clout to attract fans, writers and artists to collaborate on some great work moving forward.
This is very much a comic that takes place in the same universe as the early Aliens but it isn’t a story that is chained to their lore; the references are there for lovers of the franchise but they are like sprinkles of connection rather than heavy investment. Johnson provides us a more psychological and historic trauma insight into Cruz’s past life and how it affects him in this present rescue mission.
Marvel titles garner wide attraction and new generations may find their way into the joy of the Alien franchise through this new branding. Some older fans may be quick to criticise this story arc finding it a bit short on its teen + promise. I expected a little more horror out of it. One thing is sure with a month between issues there is no shortage of historic material to keep us rolling in Alien stories.
An expansive story for an ever expanding Alien universe.
Compelling action that keeps the pages turning and a slow burn intriguing plot have this arc shaping up with promise…
Reviewed by Taz Maz
Written by : Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by : Salvador Larroca
Published by Marvel
Released : July 2021
What a great cover! InHyuk Lee’s wonderfully dark Alien tail coiling around a troubled child’s face heralds issue #3 ; I eagerly anticipated it’s contents. Spoilers ahead….
Epsilon station, a Weyland-Yutani bioweapons and research facility is orbiting earth on a self – destruct trajectory.
Gabe Cruz has helped build the success of this station based on an encounter with Xenomorphs (Aliens) in the past. His son Danny, as part of a terrorist organisation have stolen a pass from him to get on to the station and in the process released the dangerous Xenomorphs. Cruz has had to come out of retirement to take the lead on the highly risky mission of trying to retrieve the mysterious “ALPHA” sample from Epsilon station is he is to have any chance of saving his son and preserving his legacy.
Issue #3 is a seriously action packed issue as we are propelled in to the midst of an Alien attack, with Cruz and two Weyland-Yutani agents walking into a maelstrom of terror. The time around we open with a dying agent lying on the floor, ribs exploded open having been impaled by a Xenomorph in a swift attack. In a last act of defiance he manages to fire on the creature in the midst of a firefight where Cruz and the other agent looked to be facing certain death, causing the it to sweep up the heroic agent and flee with him. The encounter brings up flashback memories for Cruz of the first time he and a crew responded to a rescue call and came under attack from Xenomorphs.
Kennedy has done a great job in crafting a tense story full of intrigue. He also finds a way to add to depth through intriguing subplots that had me wondering how this arc might develop. During one scene, there is a mention of another mysterious and enchanting female looking Alien that Cruz has some mental connection with called ” The Dark One” . This “Dark One” was pictured back in the opening issue, who could not want to learn more! Kennedy has dropped a great little back story that we are yet to see develop and possible links to plot in ways yet to be seen through Cruz’s flashbacks.
I have been consistently disappointed in Larocca’s Xenomorphs and inconsistency in drawing Cruz in previous issues, but I’m not going to rehash old reviews. What I will say is that his art is solid but at this point it just feels disconnected to the horror of the franchise and historical xenomorph art. In this issue there is so much in terms of visible xenomorphs that it detracts from some of the tension and mystery associated with what fans would associate as typical Alien horror. The art and the colors for the Aliens are bordering on cheery and too crisp to invite mystery, tension and the necessary foreboding tones. That feeling of the surprising attacking and not being so visible is lacking when they are front and centre consistently.
The lettering from Clayton Cowles is perfect for showcasing the artwork and complimenting the frenzied action and overall this issue reads well, with Kennedy doing a great job of getting the reader intrigued as to the the direction that this story may go. The clinical way Cruz kills his old friend Mitch who he knows cannot be saved is a touching and shocking moment and the emergence of two small Xenomorphs from the body is a nice unexpected twist from the conventional Alien gestation of one Alien per host.
Perhaps this is not the best jumping on point for this run and this may have been a difficult issue to open up on if you hadn’t already read issues one and two, but holds its own well enough to give the reader enough information so that they might be able to easily decide if this is the right kind of space-horror for them.
Verdict Compelling action that keeps the pages turning and a slow burn intriguing plot have this arc shaping up with promise. Despite some minor artistic gripes over character consistency here and there, Marvel’s first Aliens run continues to impress.
Regardless of if you have ever read the Dark Horse Aliens, any other previous Alien franchise books, or even seen the films, this new and exciting direction in the Alien franchise kicks off well in Marvel’s Alien #1.
The artwork that the Swiss born painter Hans Ruedi Giger gave us for the original films was sumptuous and visually stunning. In the over forty years after his original creations there have been many Aliens drawn by amateurs, fans and professionals inspired by his work. Dark Horse comics had previously published some great Alien franchise comics and arguably made their name on publishing’s of Aliens, Predator, Aliens vs. Predator and Prometheus. Seeing how Marvel would run with this new series was intriguing on an artistic level alone.
Ahead of this first offering there was a little stirring of Alien comic fan interest. Tristan Jones, who provided the artwork for Dark Horse’s longstanding series accused Marvel Comics and artist Greg Land of tracing his work for the cover of the Aliens Omnibus. I wondered how would this first printing would hold up to scrutiny.
Giger the comparisons were hard to avoid and I found Larroca to be pretty average in parts. The first two page scene didn’t need to introduce Alien imagery. The original film was so great at building the slow burn. Seeing that it was clearly tracing of action figure Aliens made the actual Aliens introduction a little disappointing. Never the less the overall art is solid and the tracings from toys, best forgotten I’d say. The good likeness to Lance Henrickson ( actor in the original films ) in the Bishop, android role is a nice addition.
Bishop is introduced as the therapist to our main character and it really helped endear me to the content as being recognizable as Alien franchise from early in the plot development. The palette by Guru-efx really is amazing. I loved it. Spot on! The choices redeem the art to some extent. It is wonderfully dark, ominous and compliments the lettering, and story with a sense of tension and foreboding
The character development and story is set out well too. Gabriel Cruz is the soon to be retired Weyland-Yutani security chief. His loyalty to the corporation has been unquestionable in his many years of service. It’s clear this tough well respected company man has made a lot of personal sacrifice to the detriment of his family and mentally evidrnced through trauma in the course of his recollections with Bishop of surviving an Alien encounter.
Shortly after retiring with an undisclosed sickness Gabe tries to mend fences with his broken relationship with his son Danny. Danny unlike his father has nothing but contempt for the agenda of the Weyland-Yutani corporation and steals a security pass from Gabe in a brief visit with him. Danny takes the security pass with his girlfriend and a bunch of terrorists to break into the Weyland-Yutani research facility. They end up finding more than they bargained for. What they find could easily be compared to a scene from the Alien Resurrection film. The bloody way they infiltrate the lab looks promising in terms of future horror art. This again bodes well as I did wonder if Marvel may tone down the horror to appeal to a wider age range and customer base.
For the fans I’m sure there will be a mixed reception given the tracings mainly. There was enough here for me to connect it with the Alien franchise and although not mind-blowing as first issues go, continued page turning is defiantly something I’d stick with. The art on A#2 RETURN TO EPSILON STATION cover really had me mulling over plot twists and I look forward to more to come.
Verdict: This is a bold start to an Alien story. It has good character development and a pacey, original, intriguing plot of fright inducing promise.