ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT #2 & #3
Playing catch up this week with a two issue review of Dark Horse Comics stellar release ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT #2 & #3. James Stokoe is a one man tour de force in what might be the best Alien comic book I have ever read. Isolated and alone in the depths of space the crew of a company owned refueling station are attempting to save the lives of three survivors from a ragtag ship that has just docked via autopilot. Shortly after a scene plays out well known to any fans of the franchise, two of the survivors convulse until an alien bursts through their chest and escape into the ventilation system. What ensues is a gripping and claustrophobic hunt for fallen crew members as they are picked off one by one all while trying to find some means of escape.
While the overall plot treads familiar ground the execution in this series is beyond reproach. ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT is dripping with tension and atmosphere that perfectly captures the feel of the first two Aliens films. The station is cramped and old, full of places for space monsters to hide and corridors for their poor human victims to run down. Stokoe also uses some clever non-linear storytelling in his script that gives the readers a glimpse of things to come and then goes back to show the lead up to the event. It all works so well and the book has such an amazing sense of place that after I put these issues down I wished this had been the Aliens movie we got instead of Covenant.
As if the writing were not a good enough reason to pick this book up the art is equally as good if not better. A huge part of what makes the first two Aliens movies work is the fact that you can sense the creature just off camera, the idea that the greatest fear is the one you cannot see. Stokoe has managed to capture that element through well employed use of onomatopoeia and perspective. Shots from the characters point of view down long empty hallways, multiple panels focused on open doors, and an effective use of tight corridors all build that sense of dread that something terrible is just around the corner. ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT is a masterpiece of visual storytelling and any and all fans of the property should be picking up every issue that comes out. This is the kind of story we all wanted Ridley Scott to tell but thankfully James Stokoe was there to bail us out. All three issues are still on the shelf at World’s Coolest Comics so if you are a fan of the Aliens franchise get down to the store and pick them up!