May 27th not only sees Alien reach its thirtieth, but also the release of the first Aliens comic series since Xenogenesis over 10 years ago. But we’re not quite there yet. Today (May 2nd 2009) is what is known as Free Comic Book and Dark Horse is previewing its upcoming Aliens and Predator series in a flip-book.
And to celebrate the release of this preview and the upcoming release of Aliens Issue #1, AvPGalaxy has put together its list of Top Ten Alien Comics.
10 – Stalker
Bringing up the rear at number 10 we have Stalker. It’s not one that tends to be discussed on the forums a lot and to be honest, I can see why. It wasn’t a comic I was ever going to hunt down and if it wasn’t for the omnibuses, I may never have even got around to reading this at all.
And I couldn’t be blamed. Aliens and Vikings? Yeah, right. That makes perfect sense! I’ve never thought of the Aliens series as being that flexible in regard to story, setting or time, but Stalker proved me wrong.
I’d love to spoil the story for everyone but I won’t. It’s something you guys really need to go out and find for yourselves. In context the story makes perfect sense and everything within it fits. It’s good. It’s smart and it’s interesting. It all works perfectly.
Throw in some great artwork and you have yourself number 10 in AvPGalaxy’s Top 10 Alien Comics. I recommend that you invest in Stalker. It’s quite unique story-wise and looks amazing.
9 – Music of the Spears
Following on from Stalker we have the hideous Music of the Spears at 9. So why is it on my list if it’s so damn ugly? That’s easy: the story.
Music of the Spears boasts a fantastic story with incredibly complex characters. The plot is also a change from the traditional comic. Sure, we still have a madman obsessed with the Aliens, but for music? Only been the once and never since. The characters in the comic are suitably deep, with internal monologues to help you delve deeper into their minds.
Although the novel is much better and easily one of the best of the older novels, the comic deserves credit too. And if it wasn’t for the horrendous artwork, Music of the Spears would probably be far higher up in the list. It’s a great example of great comic stories.
8 – Berserker
Next we have Berserker (or as it has been renamed for the Omnibus release, Frenzy). Berserker isn’t a looker by any means. It certainly isn’t our lady in the red dress but she sure is an epic lady.
The Aliens comics have traditionally revolved around action and Berserker offers it in the ammo crate loads. The sheer scale of the action in Berserker really helps push this comic into the limelight.
In particular we’re introduced to MAX – Mobile Assault eXoskeleton. This is an extension on the power-loader concept from Aliens, which was further built on with the exo-suits in AvP2. This is just one of the explosive packed story devices in Berserker.
In Anderson’s original AvP script (and Cerasini’s novelization) there was a scene where the characters were mobbed by a swarm of face-huggers. As awesome as that scene would have been it never made it. Berserker was the first to introduce this idea and it forms an iconic scene within the comic. It just shows how far the comic pushes the action to the limits.
So to sum it up, Berserker is Aliens on Xenozip. An action packed comic with epic proportions. A must read for those adrenaline junkie Aliens fans out there looking for an intro into the comic book world.
7 – Glass Corridor
Like most on this list, Glass Corridor stands out because of its originality. Glass Corridor is a noir-esque character study about Frank, a hitman whose deeds and conscience have finally caught up with him.
It’s another of these comics which try to step-out of the box regarding character stereotypes, such as the average marine or smuggler-based stories. Glass Corridor boasts dark and brooding artwork to go along with the equally brooding monologues that help structure and carry the story.
6 – Havoc
Havoc is a true gem. Created by Dark Horse as a way to showcase the talents of numerous artists and to show how good comic stories could actually be, Havoc features a fantastic Aliens tale and is just what it intended to be, a showcase of some of the best Aliens art.
It’s not all sunshine and daises, however, as some of the art doesn’t quite fit, but it’s still fantastic in its own right. By this I’m thinking particularly of the intentionally cartoony sections in the book, which, although not bad art, don’t quite gel with the Aliens universe. That said, the use of the panels as the point-of-view of a certain character made it very unique, adding to the freshness of the comic.
The story is rather different compared to our usual tales, which may leave the fan-base split as to its reception. All I can say is that I was captivated by all the variety in the artwork. Havoc definitely deserves its spot on our Top Ten list.
5 – Book One
At number 5 we have the one that started it all, Book One. Released in 1989, Book One is one of the few infamous comics to be released prior to Alien 3 and carries on the adventures of Hicks and Newt. It was later re-released as Outbreak with Hicks and Newt renamed as Wilks and Bille, but it’s the original black and white series that holds number 5 in our Top Ten list.
It was a beautifully drawn comic with Aliens brought to terrifying life in the black ink of Mark Nelson, and while proved to be somewhat popular, it wasn’t perfect. The story, in particular, sometimes feels rushed and confusing, as if Mark Verheiden was trying to shove too much down your throat too fast. Regardless, it provided an extremely solid foundation for the expanded universe of Aliens, and as such Book One deserves its place in the number 5 spot.
4 – Destroying Angels
Number 4 has always held a special place in my heart as it was one of the first comics I ever sought out. To me, it demonstrates what the expanded universe is all about: that special ability to expand on things which would otherwise remain in the background. Destroying Angels is an answer to the question that continually pops up on our forums: who are the Space Jockeys?
The comic has one clear goal and that is to reveal more about the enigma that are the Jockeys. Destroying Angels is very linear in that that is its primary purpose and keeps on that course throughout. In the end, though, it reveals without truly revealing much at all.
Some proposed ideas in the story may seem far-fetched and alienate some readers. Some hate the Hybrid, while the whole prospect of expanding on the Jockeys at all turns others away. Personally, I love the notion, which is why I regard it so highly.
Like all these specially-selected comics, Destroying Angels wouldn’t be held as high as I regard it if it wasn’t for the excellent artwork. The comic features amazing renditions of Jockey facilities, characters and aliens alike. All of these make this a must-read for those curious about the Space Jockeys.
3 – Sacrifice
Religion made its debut into the franchise in the release of Book One by means of the Alien cult. This theme has continually appeared in the comics ever since, showing up in the superb short Elder Gods and also having a minor inclusion in Music of the Spears (significantly more important in the novelization).
It also played a key role in Alien 3 (though was even more pronounced in Vincent Ward’s thankfully abandoned Alien3 script) and as such, the alien has become increasingly used as a means of exploring aspects of faith and religious fanaticism. Sacrifice is prime example of this. The main character is a priest and the alien is presented as being the devil – something that follows on from Ward’s script and the frankly awful exorcism of a chestburster scene.
The artwork is particularly good and the idea of sacrificing something to appease the alien is pretty interesting too. I don’t think it’s a comic that is normally under the spotlight but I would recommend you go out and give it a read.
2 – Labyrinth
Labyrinth is easily one of the most definitive Alien comics and its place on this list was virtually guaranteed. It isn’t the prettiest comic in terms of artwork but it features amazing renditions of the aliens. I’m especially fond of how they used Giger’s alien as the basis of their design.
It’s an incredibly violent comic which is something that is continually thrown at you throughout, creating a driving sense of madness and violence that pushes throughout the comic. Essentially, it always seems to be trying to disgust the reader and this is reflected in some specific aspects of the story, particularly Church’s flashback.
Labyrinth is quite possibly the comic that divulges into the aliens inner-workings the most. It might de-mystify the aliens too much for some, while for others it may make them attain a more complex and interesting dimension. I’m certainly among the latter.
1 – Nightmare Asylum
And here we have it, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Our shining light is none other than Nightmare Asylum. The second series released by Dark Horse, the originally entitled Book Two continued the adventures of Hicks and Newt. Like Book One and subsequent Earth War, the characters were renamed Wilks and Billie and the series renamed Nightmare Asylum in the post-Alien 3 period.
Regardless of the title or character names, the series has always had the qualities that help push Nightmare Asylum above all others: an engrossing story and simply stellar artwork.
Denis Beauvais was able to create a unique style that hasn’t been seen in any other Aliens series since. It is a style that captures the story and strives to add an extra dimension to what could have been just another generic action comic (something future Alien comics suffered from).
Indeed, up until this point the idea of humans wanting to control the aliens was only ever used as a vague sub-element (in the movies), often primarily cited in the interests of character motivation. Alien 3 would later proceed with this idea somewhat, and in Resurrection Whedon seems to have taken quite a few elements directly out of Nightmare Asylum, for instances Spears and Gedimen using fire and nitrogen, respectively, as a means of controlling the aliens’ behaviour.
Nightmare Asylum included the first instance of an EU character that would rapidly assume the status of an archetype in much of the future Alien material: the madman who thinks he can tame the aliens. In this case, it was Thomas Spears, a general dead-set on taking Earth back with his very own alien army. Wilks and Billie are further developed and we find ourselves becoming more attached to them as we follow them throughout their three-series story arc.
Finally, let’s not forget the most memorable frame in an Aliens comic: Spears, sword held high, with his alien army all around him, like some deranged vision out of the American Civil War. Nightmare Asylum also plays host to the best ending in a comic: Ripley in that last page, armed to the teeth and ready for war.
Well folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed the article. I also hope I might have influenced some of you to consider picking up one or two of these comics. You should be able to find most, if not all of these in the Omnibuses (for a complete list in our forums see /forum/index.php?topic=19751.0 ).
I’d just also like to mention that this list was arranged entirely by myself and does not reflect the opinions of the forum moderators, Darkness or the members of our board. As the sole editorial staff member interested in comics, this was compiled entirely by myself and reflects only my opinion.