The Woman in the Dark (Alien Lore)

Posted by Corporal Hicks on March 14, 2024 (Updated: 14-Mar-2024)

Created by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, the Woman in the Dark was introduced in “Alien: Bloodlines” – the first of Marvel’s Alien series – and had a much more significant presence in “Alien: Icarus”, the third Marvel series and Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s final.

The Woman in the Dark is first mentioned by ex-Weyland-Yutani corporate security member Gabriel Cruz at the very beginning of “Alien: Bloodlines”, who describes a recurring nightmare he has in which he dreams of pure darkness, a dark “a truer shade than just the absence of light.” In the dark he dreams of the Aliens, and of her, the Woman in the Dark.

“She’s with them. Her eyes are blind, cloudy, and still. Her breasts unburdened by breath or heartbeat. I am utterly beneath her notice. In all the universe, she’s a queen among lepers. A goddess among maggots.

But yet, I know she has noticed me. She’s looking for me. And even though she’s the nearest thing to true evil that exists…the thing that will someday reduce all life to gore and ash…I know that some part of me wants to be found.”

 The Woman in the Dark (Alien Lore)

Cruz was the commanding officer of a team of Weyland-Yutani security forces that had been sent to investigate the colony transport vessel Hadley Carrier 2 in 2180. Aboard the ship they found Aliens and the team was captured and implanted. The last to be captured and facehugged, Cruz was rescued by the unit’s Bishop and placed inside a cryotube. He was eventually rescued and the gestating chestburster removed. Known as the Alpha, this chestburster served as the foundation for Weyland-Yutani’s Alien research aboard Epsilon Station.

Throughout “Alien: Bloodlines” the Woman in the Dark was depicted as something that humans who have been facehugged witness during the implantation process. And frequently after in nightmares if the infant chestburster was removed and the host survived.

When a failed attempt by the anti-Corporation terrorist group known as the Minute Hand Movement to steal corporate secrets from Epsilon Station in 2200 resulted in the escape of Alien specimens, Gabriel Cruz and a small security force were sent to the station to retrieve a sample – and also rescue his son, Danny, who was amongst the terrorists.

Cruz encountered Mitch, a former colleague and scientist, who had been facehugged and whose chestburster was still gestating inside him when he was found. Mitch told Cruz that: “I saw her Gabe. She’s looking for you. The one in the dark.”

 The Woman in the Dark (Alien Lore)

Gabriel Cruz eventually located his son, Danny, in the Alien hive who was in the midst of the implantation process, a facehugger still attached to his face. At the end of “Alien: Bloodlines,” another Bishop android was able to remove the still gestating and immature chestburster from within Danny.

Surviving the process, the Bishop asked Danny about the experience. And just as his father did, Danny Cruz reported that he saw something in the dark, something that was pursuing him:

“I just remember the smell…this horrible, ungodly stink…There was something…in the dark, I think. Something looking for me…something far, far away.”

While not prominently featured in that first storyline, “Alien: Bloodlines” does seem to lean heavily into the idea that the Woman in the Dark mentally torments hosts who survive the implantation process, suggesting a lasting connection with the Xenomorph XX121 hivemind in which they remain haunted by her.

Iris Humphries, an artificial person who was leading the invading Minute Hand Movement team, claimed to have knowledge and awareness of the Woman in the Dark that the facehugged victims were dreaming of.

“You still don’t understand what she is, do you? Human’s weren’t the first organics to leave your solar system, Cruz. There have been so many others, in this galaxy alone. And they’re all gone now. Do you know why? When organic species grow arrogant enough to travel the stars…they find it waiting. Prometheus’ cleansing fire. The fire that keeps the universe clean…of parasites like you.

It’s always the same after that. First, you tried to harness the fire as a weapon, like all the ones before you have done. Next, you’ll try to join with it…use it to make yourselves better, stronger. That’s what the hive showed you in the dark, Cruz.

She’s your own future. The inevitable end result of the deadly little thing you brought back inside you. The thing we’ll eventually use to kill you all.”

 The Woman in the Dark (Alien Lore)

It would take another 17 years before the first recorded encounter with a creature resembling The Woman in the Dark on the planet Tobler-9 in 2217 in “Alien: Icarus.” At one point considered a jewel in the crown of Weyland-Yutani’s colonisation effort, Tobler-9 was the Research and Development hub of the Company. An Alien outbreak in 2205 caused the planet to be abandoned and was subsequently left an “irradiated wasteland,” presumably due to bombing by Weyland-Yutani.

According to Melody, a former R&D researcher who survived the outbreak, Weyland-Yutani had been selectively breeding Aliens to develop a new variation of Xenomorph that the researchers referred to as the Icarus strain.

“The Company was exploring more human applications…ways we could use them to make us better. We started breeding the Aliens like you might breed dogs…carefully selecting hosts based on prerequisite strengths and immunities.

It worked. Ovomorphs from the Icarus strain gave us material we could use to develop new drugs and gene therapies…not just for soldiers, but for all humanity.”

Melody noted that the Xenomorph born of the Icarus strain demonstrated a higher than typical intelligence, and even appeared to demonstrate enjoyment from their own “cruel” behaviour.

“There’s too much of us in them. If they were beasts before, they’re proper monsters now. They seem a shade cleverer now…more patient. Cruel, even sadistic in a way other beasts aren’t capable of.

When they take one of us, sometimes they leave parts for us to find. A shoe…child’s toy…snarl a’ hair. It feels like they’re trying to lure in the rest of us. Maybe even having a laugh. Simple beasts don’t do such a thing, do they? They’ll kill to eat, or protect their young…the right to mate, maybe. Never for a laugh.”

The Weyland-Yutani scientists had been able to successfully develop a sophisticated biologic agent using the Icarus strain of the Aliens, a biologic agent that acted as an incredible broad spectrum miracle drug.

“One of Weyland-Yutani’s off-the-books projects was some of catchall biologic for their defence agents. One injection with a wide range of benefits. One of those benefits was significant resistance to deadly radiation levels.”

A team of combat synthetics known as Steel Team was deployed to Tobler-9 to retrieve this biologic agent. Following the “catastrophic failure” of an experimental nuclear reactor on the agricultural world of Demeter-2, a world with the agricultural infrastructure to feed 25 United Systems colonies, the radiation fallout threatened to kill millions of colonists on Demeter-2.

Without the capability to evacuate a population of this size, the United Systems government and military decided to attempt to retrieve this biologic agent to inoculate the radiation afflicted colonists instead.

When Steel Team arrived at the Weyland-Yutani laboratory, they found no sign of the biologic agent, or the Alien egg that had been instrumental in its development. Instead, they found a menagerie of terrestrial insects that had been mutated unbeknownst to the combat synthetics.

 The Woman in the Dark (Alien Lore)

“Alien: Icarus” itself offers no definitive explanation, but given that Steel Team also discovered urns of accelerant in the same lab, it’s a safe assumption that these insects had been mutated by exposure to the black goo. As the combat synths had been expecting to find no living beings other than the Xenomorph XX121s, the team retrieved a small number of the insects.

The assumption that there would be no human survivors on Tobler-9 was also corrected shortly after, when Steel Team was rescued from attacking Aliens by several ragged looking humans who took the synthetics back to their refuge. Here they found many survivors of the Alien infestation. Many humans who should have been dead due to radiation poisoning.

Despite the initial insistence that none of the survivors had taken the biologic agent that Steel Team had come to Tobler-9 to retrieve, it was later discovered that all the surviving humans received regular inoculations of the biologic that kept them healthy and alive.

One such survivor was named Lee. Elijah, one of the members of Steel Team, discovered her going through their belonging, which included the accelerant mutated insects the synthetic team discovered at Weyland-Yutani’s lab.

Unnoticed by Lee, one of the containers had broken, and a mutated insect had escaped into Lee’s clothing. However, Elijah did notice, but neglected to tell the human survivor due to his general disdain and distrust of mankind.

 The Woman in the Dark (Alien Lore)

Two days later, following the survivors’ betrayal of Steel Team which saw Melody trap the synthetics in an Alien hive within Highpoint Rail Station, the location of “one of the worst bloodbaths” of the outbreak and evacuation, the humans had retreated to Steel Team’s dropship. Over the day Lee had been getting progressively ill. She began to vomit a black substance and her skin started to deform.

Aboard the dropship, Lee lost her last traces of humanity and attacked the other human survivors. By this point, she had developed her own telescoping tongue, attacking Melody with it and removing the woman’s jaw in the attack. The dropship crashed during her attack, and Lee was the only being that emerged from the flaming wreckage.

With her mutation still progressing, Lee came face-to-face with a number of Aliens who didn’t attack her. Instead, Lee led the Aliens to the bunker where the last of the surviving humans on Tobler-9 were hiding. Lee and the Aliens devastated the survivors.

Steel Team arrived at the human refuge in time to save only a hiding child. They fought and killed numerous Aliens, as well as fending off the viciously attacking Lee. One of the dying humans armed and detonated a nuclear failsafe, wiping out their shelter and the attacking Aliens. However, the remaining members of Steel Team, their human survivor and Lee were able to escape in time.

 The Woman in the Dark (Alien Lore)

Following the nuclear detonation and the survivor’s lack of radiation illness, Steel Team deduced that the survivors had been inoculating themselves with the biologic agent, and it had been effectively protecting them from the radiation poisoning all this time.

After the mutating Lee watched the surviving members of Steel Team retreat, she returned to the Alien hive in Highpoint Rail Station, where she opened the doors that the human scavengers had earlier closed to trap Steel Team, freeing the Xenomorphs to attack the remaining Synthetics.

As the last two members of Steel Team and the final surviving human headed to the incoming dropship for evacuation, the dropship crew mistook Lee to be the lone survivor of the mission and approached her.

Steel Team arrived just in time to watch Lee slaughter the last of the crew. Lee’s attention turned to the survivors, but was held off by Elijah’s Pulse Rifle fire. As her mutation continued, causing Lee pain and distracting her, the survivors were able to escape into the dropship and leave the planet’s surface, leaving the still mutating Lee on Tobler-9.

As Steel Team considered what to do with the surviving human, the biologic agent coursing through his veins, on the surface of Tobler-9 Lee found refuge within the now Queen-less hive under the Highpoint Rail Station. “Alien: Icarus” ends with a full page panel of Lee, surrounded by Aliens and now much further along in her mutation, with a much closer resemblance to the Woman in the Dark as seen in Gabriel Cruz’s visions.

 The Woman in the Dark (Alien Lore)

This is the last we’ve seen of the Woman in the Dark or Lee. Though “Alien: Icarus” offers no definitive reason, or even a theory, it would be a reasonable conclusion to suppose that due to the Xenomorph derived biologic agent within Lee’s system, the accelerant reacted differently to the other mutations we’ve seen so far. Lee’s mutation time was also much slower when compared to the mutations we saw during the Prometheus expedition and when the Covenant crew landed on Paradise. Lee’s mutation took over 2 days from the initial time of infection, which is assuming the insect bit her relatively quickly, of course.

Perhaps it is possible that the Alien hivemind is capable of seeing into the future? Was Cruz being shown Lee before her mutation even occurred? Or perhaps what Cruz was seeing was a similarly mutated creature resulting from other extra-terrestrial race’s own experimentation with the Xenomorph XX121 and the Accelerant?

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Comments: 10
  1. This character perfectly illustrates everything wrong with the new Marvel comics which are so horribly written that they made me quit reading any more AvP comics altogether. And I surely have read a lot of them over the last few decades.

  2. What a fascinating deep dive. I’ve never really been into species and Sil. Something about the concept feels B movie. It’s been YEARSSSS so maybe I should revisit the series.. Regardless I’ve always loved Lovecraft and the unknowable beyond the stars concept. There’s something really haunting about an unknown entity that is just out of our concept of reality. Just beyond the vail. Also that it’s able to reach you in your dreams. The thought of surviving a facehugger attack just to be haunted by a being in the dark sounds way scarier. I’ll take the parasite baby any day.

  3. Good article. Just the connection to the Perfected from the RPG should be addressed. A. E. Gaska said that they’ll probably appear somewhere else other than the RPG, so the Icarus comic is my bet on that being the result. Why? Cause Gaska clarified that the Perfected are a later stage a human being infected by the Pathogen, but only if the Pathogen is irradiated. Even then only some individuals make it to the Perfected stage. And guess what? In Icarus everything was irradiated, so we get the beginning of the Perfected form for Lee. Everything lines up there.

    And it’s kinda funny. I like how the writer spoke of the Women in the Dark the first time and when addressing the theorized Alien’s purpose. Very dark and Lovecraftian, too bad the story and art have nothing to do with it. They didn’t use the potential of their idea to the fullest. Also like that they spoke of the Aliens being smart, cruel and cunning in Icarus, though that should be the norm, not cause of special circumstances. Too bad none of that was ever shown.

  4. The solution to the scourge of Mankind would be far simpler than initially thought. It took only the fabrication of a myth of the Engineers as Mankind’s ancient gods. Several races and entities had made similar claims so as to more easily attain chattel, but the Engineers bore considerable semblance to the Human form.
    The ruse worked with some, but many were devoted to an invisible Supreme Maker, while others held devotion to a goddess by the name of Onrai or Via. So, the Engineers endeavoured to provide them a goddess, a Woman in the Dark for them to venerate! But whether from their experiments or their affront to the divine, the Engineers lost their ability to reproduce. A small price to pay, some reasoned, for transcendence so that they might, in fact, become gods. – Supernatural Encounters the trial and transformation of arhul hextrophon

  5. Yes, it has some similarity to Sil from the Species franchise thanks to the Giger design. Although in the case of Sil, it had the abiltiy to shape-shift back to a human whenever it wanted. Whereas in this case, its a one-way mutation to become a purely iinstinctive monster.

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