Happy Alien Day, folks. What began in 2016 as a celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of James Cameron’s Aliens (and cleverly tied to the planet name – LV-426 – from Ridley Scott’s first film), bursts to life for a second straight year. April 26 is a day to squeeze your facehugger plushy, watch the trailer for Alien: Covenant (again), and head down to your local comic shop for Dark Horse’s latest entries into this terrifying science-fiction universe. This week, James Stokoe debuts Aliens: Dead Orbit #1, a story with a familiar feel, but told with an impressively fresh style.
The book opens on a desolate Weiland-Yutani space station, and a familiar, eerie whirring of electronic circuits. A flashback sequence begins to tell the story of how this station ended up with just one, haggard occupant. Its crew had gone to investigate a freighter, dead in orbit around the gas giant, resulting in all the usual Alien tropes. What the hell happened here? Where is everyone? What burned through this bulkhead..?! And before issue one concludes, it’s clear that the acid-blooded predator responsible is back on the station, and one poor bastard has his work cut out for him.
Stokoe, best known for his Orc Stain series with Image, provides the entire package – script, art, colors, and even the lettering. His intensely detailed style, with a full color palette and marvelous intricacy, is very reminiscent of Geof Darrow. As such, it’s not the art we typically see from a Dark Horse Aliens book. But that’s exactly what makes this series so refreshing. The story may seem like a retread, but without the ominous shadows and grit that have set the tone for most of the prior comics, and, indeed, most of the movies, they’re something exciting and new in every Alien appearance and every bead of human sweat.
To make it easy, here’s that Covenant trailer that you wanted to watch again.