Alien‘s first series with Marvel Comics has kicked off, and it solidifies the fact that they aren’t here to simply sell out the property. The first issue was good from the perspective of what made the first film work so well, from the slow brooding nature to the attention to detail, and the groundwork being laid out so that the human characters matter. There’s also enough there for super fans, like the appearance of Bishop, or at least an android that looks like him. The second issue gets our hero to gear up and prepare for battle, and when it comes to fighting aliens, what more could we ask for?
It’ll be interesting to see how well the second issue sells since the first issue sold so well, but the second issue delivers on the unease and impending danger we’ve come to expect from this series. This issue opens with a man and a child bathed in red light as an attack has taken place on their ship. We can guess what is outside the door due to the clicking and scraping going on. It’s nightmarish as the story moves in closer on the little girl’s eye filled with terror. Cut to Gabriel Cruz in bed awake way too early as he contemplates things. It’s a good reminder Cruz has seen things, lived things, and must contemplate these things every moment of his life. Enter a really bad new mission.
This book rather quickly surmises what happened to Cruz’s son after using his key card to enter a space station. A station with a lot of science experiments going on. It sets up the stakes, the presumptions for the reader to chew on, and the mission in a quick and efficient scene, sending Cruz off to save his boy and save his skin. Credit to Phillip Kennedy Johnson for writing a tight issue that doesn’t draw things out or waste our time. Readers get to see things, relive a few more memories of Cruz, and wonder how he’ll make it out alive for the next issue. Just as you’d want in an Alien book.
Salvador Larroca and Guru-eFX knock it out of the park when it matters. That goes for the opening scene cast in red, the destroyed station environments, and some terrifying moments. One panel, for instance, shows off a truly haunting image of Cruz cast in shadow with only two tiny white dots for eyes. The humanity of him has practically seeped out as he witnesses the destruction of the ship and the reader understanding what he sees is hell. Generally speaking, costumes, technology, and environments are all rendered quite well here.
Larroca’s style does have its problems though, particularly early on when Cruz meets with Bishop to go over what happened on the station. The establishing panel of the two talking is incredibly awkward and stiff. Adding to the awkwardness is how their faces aren’t accurate in the slightest. Bishop’s head is turned slightly so it’s fairly easy to be okay with it, but Cruz downright looks like an entirely different and younger person. It’s very strange and takes you out of the story. That stiffness extends to how characters’ bodies don’t match up with their faces at times, but thankfully there isn’t anything as jarring or offputting in the rest of the book. Even the Alien sighting we do get looks stiff, though the details are excellent.
Where Alien #2 faulters, it makes up for with unceremonious dread, fear, and plot progression. It’s incredibly clear Alien is in the right hands with Johnson at the helm, as the identity of this series lives and breathes in a place of unfaltering nightmares.
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