In Alien #1, United System soldiers track down a colony of synths living on a backwater moon. These biomechanical humanoids are the only hope for retrieving lost biotechnology on a hostile planet. The androids are the key to saving humanity, but they’ll need some convincing, and it’s really not necessarily in their own best interests to help at all. Humans can be shitty, as these disgruntled droids well know, and there’s very little reason to trust them.
I have been waiting for this series to release since last year, when I dropped Marvel’s previous Alien series from my review queue. I really, really want this one to be good. And, it’s… serviceable? It’s not always fair to judge a series from the very first issue, so I’m going to stick this one out for at least a few issues, but there isn’t a whole lot in this first chapter that’s begging me to stay.
Phillip Kennedy Johnson uses most of this opening salvo to give us entirely too much exposition. One of the things that worked so well with the original film was that viewers had no idea what the hell was going on until the very last second, and even then, it wasn’t a full picture. Alien #1 has no big reveal. There’s no pop. Everything is explained in excruciating detail, leaving very little to the imagination.
The art is heads and tails better than the last Marvel attempt at Alien. That was the main reason I bailed on the 2021 series. Julius Ohta doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to show off his xenomorphs in this one, but his human on synth violence is dynamic and easy to follow. The weird thing is actually when the subjects are mostly static.
There’s one scene (page 22 maybe?) where there are three characters mid conversation, where all should be stood still looking at each other, and there’s an odd motion to their body positions. They look like they’re all walking forward, when they’re only a couple feet apart, and the only places they would be able to go is straight into each other.
On the bright side, this is a diverse cast. I appreciate that all the synths and soldiers aren’t cookie cutter Caucasians. The action scenes are awesome. The one Xeno we get to see is gnarly and ferocious, and the art isn’t blatantly copy pasted, traced, or outright stolen from previous Alien artists.
On the ‘meh’ end, I don’t see anything really groundbreaking or new to this angle. There’s potential here, and I’m going to stick around for a while to see where it goes, but so far, this issue feels like filler, and it’s kind of early for that. I’m sincerely hoping this series takes off in the next chapter.
Marvel’s latest foray into the Xenoverse is much better than their previous attempt, but it’s still an uphill climb from mediocrity.