It’s a shame Dark Horse Comics couldn’t get their Predator adaptation series underway due to Marvel Comics obtaining the license for Alien and Predator in 2021. Alien: The Original Screenplay #1 was an excellent example of how a new take on something familiar can be deeply rewarding. The second issue in this five-issue series is out this week and it may top the first when it comes to tension, frights, and fear.
Something about this series that works so well is how it plays on our expectations. Like any good horror, you know a scare is coming, but you can’t help but tense up. That’s the same for this issue, which has a few of the crew members investigate a mysterious pyramid a few hundred yards from their spaceship. In the last issue, the crew discovered the mysterious giant alien in its spacecraft, and now it’s time to explore other parts of the planet. As we all know from Alien, something is out there that killed the giant alien and it’s going to face hug the crap out of them if it gets the chance.
Cristiano Seixas does a great job drawing you into the scenes with good dialogue from the characters and a good sense of pacing and plotting. As characters descend a giant hill towards the creepy pyramid in the distance, we learn what the alien message was that sent them to the planet. It’s not good news. This ramps up the tension of the scene as we know aliens, or something worse, is going to get them. There is also an attention to the threat to the crew as a whole that makes it feel realistic, like when a character points out they can’t go out and get the investigating crew as there’s a certain number of members required to fly off the ship.
The art by Guilherme Balbi is fabulous, from the visors on the spacesuits to the incredible architecture inside the pyramid. We get a look at the Alien pods housing the face-huggers and it’s a newer design that’s creepy in a brand new way. It’s quite clear we’re holding off on Alien reveals for later issues, but it doesn’t matter. There is a creepiness to the golden glow of the alien world thanks to Candice Han’s colors. There is an antiseptic quality to the interiors that juxtaposes nicely with the alien world outside and the various ancient markings. The art also clearly goes for a cinematic quality with wider and slightly thinner panels to get a cinemascope feel.
I couldn’t put Alien: The Original Screenplay #2 down, and I’ve seen Alien a hundred times. It’s fascinating to see an alternate take on the source material (albeit the material isn’t quite what the final film used), but it’s also exciting to see how well-drawn it looks and how expertly it’s paced. Screw adaptation, this book is impeccably strong on its own merits.