In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream- Reviewing ‘Alien: The Original Screenplay #1’

by Brendan M. Allen

An all new Alien with an all new Alien! En route to back to Earth, the crew of the starship Snark intercepts an alien transmission. Their investigation leads them to a desolate planetoid, a crashed alien spacecraft, and a pyramidic structure of unknown origin. Then the terror begins…

Adapted from the original 1976 screenplay by Dan O’Bannon.

This is going to be a little bit of a different kind of review. The source material is a few years older than I am, so there isn’t much I could do to spoil the film. But, Alien: The Original Screenplay #1 is an interpretation of the original script, so there are going to be some spots that don’t line up. At all.

That’s probably the thing that’ll get talked about the most, since everyone who reads the thing will inevitably compare it to the film. I also don’t know how much of this comic script is owed to the screenplay, and where Cristiano Sexto takes over. So, here we go. Let’s get awkward. 

This first issue isn’t really all that different from the opening sequences of the film. I know this, because I queued up the film immediately following my first pass of this book. Like I needed an excuse to watch Alien. Mostly, the ship scenes are stripped down a little from the interactions we already saw. Not quite as saucy. The crew members are barely introduced before we find them on the rock, exploring the distressed ship and finding… stuff. 

Like I said, it’s really hard to separate Dan O’Bannon and Cristiano Seixas. I haven’t read the original script. The one you can find online is the revised version they used for the film. So, for the sake of these articles, let’s just assume this is a faithful rendering of O’Bannon’s original ideas. Fair? 

This opening chapter paces a little quicker than the film. It’s always a little weird comparing across mediums, but we get to the busted spacecraft awfully quickly, without much introduction or backstory on the crew. That makes it a little difficult to get invested when… stuff… happens. 

One of the major differences is in the art. The team makes it clear on the credits page that the imagery is based on O’Bannon’s original descriptions, which were written before H.R. Giger, Moebius, or Ron Cobb were involved with the project. This is the interesting part for me, since we didn’t get very far with the character development in this issue. 

Guilherme Balbi does a great job with the tech and the character designs. So far, there are five dudes and two females. A few of them speak. It’s really easy to tell the crew members apart, even though they don’t really do much to set themselves apart from the pack yet. The first alien life form we see is the dead pilot, and while he looks completely different and interesting and all, we’re all waiting to see what xenomorphs were originally supposed to look like, right?

All right, so cutting right through it, we all know why we’re pulling this book, right? This sucker is a love letter to the existing Aliens fandom. It’s not really here for new readers. If you jump in here, the whole rest of the franchise is going to confuse and upset you.

Alien: The Original Screenplay #1, Dark Horse Comics, 05 August 2020. Story by Dan O’Bannon, adaptation script by Cristiano Seixas, art by Guilherme Balbi, color by Candice Han, letters by Michael Heisler.

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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