Phillip Kennedy Johnson returns to the world of Alien with Julius Ohta in a new story arc starting this week. Don’t let the fresh “#1” on the cover fool you, this new series is set within the same universe, but it’s taking a different approach. That approach consists of a small colony of synths who may be the only hope for over a billion humans. Problem is, they want to be left alone, were treated horribly by humanity, and may not want to!
As far as first issues go, Johnson and Ohta firmly establish a very good premise, especially with the history synths have in this universe as well as this story taking place after most of the films. The comics have effectively advanced Weland-Yutani’s power, which is realized well through exposition in this issue. Instead of being a corporation that goes on research missions, they control entire worlds, but as we learn, one world is completely inhabitable by humans. That’s where the synths come in.
This issue is mainly devoted to showing the synths living in peace away from humans and the incredible physical abilities they have. Early on, they are threatened and make short work of humans using their fists. You get the strong sense that these synths will be able to stand up to aliens, which will eventually make for a great action-packed adventure.
“Eventually” is the key word, however, as this issue is very light on aliens. You do get two brief appearances, one of which is in a flashback seen in the preview. Somewhat shockingly, due to the title and cover, this issue is mainly setup. Most of the exciting information comes through a long expository speech, further slowing this issue down to a setup issue with sci-fi elements. You’ll be excited to see the alien vs. synth action, but after putting this book down, it barely feels like an Alien story.
A good portion of this book shows the heavenly world the synths live in, depicted well by Ohta and colorist Yen Nitro. One could argue it runs on too long–four or so pages before the synths are attacked–even if it establishes the fact that synths are willing to give up paradise for autonomy in human culture. This directly leads to them kicking ass and killing some intruder humans. It looks cool and impressive, but given this is an Alien book, it’s hard to care too much about it.
Alien #1 has such a strong premise and well-rendered sci-fi elements it’s going to be enjoyed by many, but don’t expect Alien action just yet. Unfortunately, this issue is a bit slow, and is in no rush to get the mission going. It essentially establishes everything it needs to get the story going, but for a first issue, it could be so much stronger if the mission got underway earlier. If you have the patience for it, check out Alien with the expectation that things will get nuts once the next issue is released.
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