This could have been the best Alien script ever conceived, and the art would still drag it down. The images are so distractingly awful, I can’t get past it to connect with the story at all.
Eighty years post Nostromo, a Colonial Marine is medically chaptered and heads home to try to patch things up with his estranged son, Danny. The kid agrees to meet with him, but only to steal the old man’s access card so he and his radical extremist friends could break into Epsilon Station to wreak havoc. Havoc they did wreak, but not in the way any of them expected.
I’m going to talk about the art first, because that’s what sticks out the most in this series. I don’t get it. There are so many capable artists that have worked on Aliens franchises, I don’t understand why we’re stuck with this. There are so many head-scratchingly bad moments, I’m at a loss.
Salvador Larroca likes to show the main character, Gabe, in profile. A lot. Which wouldn’t be much of an issue if the profiles matched from frame to frame. They don’t. In the space of two pages, there are two images of Gabe in profile that look NOTHING alike. The ears change shape and position. Eyebrows are a different shape. Nose, forehead, jawline, Adam’s apple, hairline… all wildly different from page to page.
It happens with eye-level straight shots too. There’s another spot in consecutive panels, where Gabe stands with his back to a wall, drinking coffee. From one frame to the next, the dude puts on twenty years and his head changes shape. There’s no way you can convince me these are the same person. It’s like one of those scenes that accidentally makes it into the finished film where the stand-ins were still on set in place of the actors, and no one noticed in post.
That’s not even getting into how static the images are. Everything feels posed. There is no sense of action or movement in this book at all. And then, when the Xenomorph does show up, it’s floating in the scene, with no contact between the beast and its victim, the set pieces, or the floor. It’s just kind of floating there, as if it were cut from another scene and badly photoshopped into this one.
The script by Phillip Kennedy Johnson is serviceable. I mentioned before, there’s a certain amount of plot and setup that are allowed to be rehashed over and over again in the Xenoverse. There’s nothing egregiously wrong with the story. Nothing terribly ground-breaking either, but this series of events would play much better with different art. Maybe Johnson gets to do something in the Aliens franchise down the line with a different artist that will help us forget this train wreck.
Marvel’s first foray into the Xenoverse is a huge disappointment for me. I wasn’t very impressed with Alien #1, but I decided to give it one more month to see if there was a way, any way, that they could pull this sucker back in, and, unfortunately, I don’t really think that’s going to happen.
Hopefully, the Aliens: Aftermath one-shot in July is awesome and sets the tone for the franchise in Marvel’s hands moving forward.
Alien #2, Marvel Comics, 21 April 2021. Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, “art” by Salvador Larroca, color by Guru-eFX.