A Broken Marine And A Defective Synthetic Take On Weyland-Yutani In Aliens Defiance Vol. 1 Library Edition

by Brendan M. Allen

An AWOL Colonial Marine battles aliens and her fears in the deepest corners of space to protect humanity from the Xenomorph threat.
Colonial Marine Private First Class Zula Hendricks is in for the fight of her life.  After a frightening discovery in deep space, Zula goes on an AWOL mission to undermine the nefarious Weyland-Yutani Synthetics Corporation. Battling for her life against aliens, space pirates, and her very own painful demons, Zula must prove that her own strength and loyalty are enough to save humanity.

Private First Class Zula Hendricks thinks she is aboard a ship full of Weyland-Yutani Corporate Security Drones (combat synthetics) as a matter of simple protocol. Weyland-Yutani has claimed salvage rights to a mass hauler adrift in space with no functioning transponder or communication. Because of the ship’s location, a Colonial Marine must board the craft with Weyland-Yutani’s androids to enter a code and transfer the craft’s flight recorder data.
In the first pages of Aliens: Defiance Volume One Library Edition, we see that PFC Hendricks was severely wounded in the line of duty. She requires intensive reconstructive surgery to her spine, nanotherapy, and rehab to even walk. The fact that she still serves on active duty is a testament to her indomitable grit and determination. This mission is the Colonial Marines’ version of light duty until she either makes a full recovery or chapters out.

The story sets up in much the way you would expect: Upon boarding the hauler, Zula discovers the ship isn’t completely devoid of life. There are no (live) humans aboard. There are… hold on… wait for it… Xenomorphs! As formulaic as this sounds for the franchise, with Weyland-Yutani wanting to capture and weaponize Xenos and sending an unwitting crew into almost certain demise, there’s actually a very interesting and unexpected twist that sets this series apart from its predecessors. 
Brian Wood gives us honest, whole characters that make sense. PFC Zula Hendricks comes across as a very proud and determined soldier who is reticent to show any weakness at all, making her all the more determined during her lengthy, painful recovery. Davis shows a range of emotion and actions that are wholly atypical of Wey-Yu synthetics.

Art by Tristan Jones and Dan Jackson is remarkable. Jones’ set pieces are tight and claustrophobic when the crew is battling Xenomorphs, and the reader is reminded that there really is nowhere to run in open space.  A hole in a suit or a crack in a helmet can be a death sentence. Jackson gives us great filters of light and dark. The scenes on board Colonial and Weyland-Yutani ships are light, well lit, airy. The scenes aboard the doomed hauler are dark, spooky, lit in reds and yellows. I don’t think colorists get nearly enough credit for their contributions to great comics, but at least half of the setting is the color. If it isn’t right, there’s nothing scary about the best written script or the most brilliantly drawn panel.
Aliens: Defiance is the story that got me back into the Aliens franchise. Wood strays from the proven Aliens formula enough to deliver a fresh, exciting tale, but retains enough of the original mythos to make Defiance instantly familiar. Action, Xenomorphs, explosions, blood (both red and green), amazing characters, and dead brilliant art. Instant buy.

Aliens: Defiance Volume 1 Library Edition HC, Dark Horse Books, released 30 October 2019. Script by Brian Wood, art by Tristan Jones, Riccardo Burchielli, Tony Brescini, Stephen Thompson, and Eduardo Francisco, color by Dan Jackson, letters by Nate Piekos of Blambot, cover and chapter break art Massimo Carnevale and Stephanie Hans.

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