MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
Aliens: Defiance is written by Brian Wood and features the art team of Tristan Jones (pencils and inks) and Dan Jackson (colors). Following Private First Class Zula Hendricks of the Colonial Marines, Aliens: Defiance tells the story of Hendricks‘ efforts to lead a squad of Weyland-Yutani corporate security drone synthetics on a salvage mission in deep space. And we all know how well things go when creepy and mysterious derelict spaceships are breached and explored by humans in the Alien-verse. Predictably, the ship isn’t as empty as assumed, and the current inhabitants bleed acid, kill on sight, and are generally unpleasant. What is less predictable is one of the company’s androids going rogue and deciding the xenmorphs are too deadly to become a weaponized resource of Weyland-Yutani. With the discovery of the infamous “special order 937” and other classified Weyland-Yutani files on the xenomorph and the company’s attempt to acquire a specimen, Zula soon finds herself with a synthetic partner and the self-assigned task of wiping out every alien the company has a lead on.
With Aliens: Defiance #1, Wood creates an appropriately cinematic first chapter to a story that seems to fit in almost seamlessly with the films in the beloved franchise. Much like February’s release of Predator: Life and Death #1 (Read my review here.), Aliens: Defiance #1 seems like a strong step in the right direction for the relaunch of the franchise in sequential art form. Featuring a tough-as-nails grunt with a traumatic background and an intriguing and interesting synthetic character in the tradition of Ash, Bishop, and David, Wood also immediately gifts readers with lead characters that feel layered, charismatic, and much more than the “cannon fodder” for the extra-terrestrial beasts terrorizing them. The characters of the Alien franchise have also been one of its major strengths, an element clearly not forgotten by Wood.
One interesting connection between Predator: Life and Death and Aliens: Defiance is an obvious connection to the extremely popular and well-done video game, Alien: Isolation. While Life and Death merely mentioned Seegson, a corporate rival of Weyland-Yutani introduced in the video game that takes place between the first and second Alien film, Defiance has much more connective tissue to Isolation, including a cameo by Amanda Ripley (Ellen’s daughter) and a mention of the Sevastopol Station. Also, very much following the style of Isolation, much of Defiance seems to visually and tonally call back to the original film in the franchise. (Don’t worry, Cameron fans. There are plenty of nods to the second film, as well.)
When it comes to the visuals of Aliens: Defiance, Jones and Jackson contribute a gritty, detail-filled, and grounded style with a fantastic coloring job that emulates the feel of the dark, dangerous, and claustrophobic world of the Alien franchise. Jones’ particular strength for the awe and isolation inherently present in scenes involving spacecraft traveling through the void is so spot on that, at times, it’s almost impossible to not hear Jerry Goldsmith’s and James Horner’s iconic scores running through your head while viewing these panels. In addition, Jones and Jackson give a real sense of white-knuckle fear and intense dread to the alien presence in the book. Imbuing these creatures with the same terror they carry on screen is no mean feat in the sequential art medium, but this art team succeeds in an amazing, graceful, and horror-inducing fashion.
FINAL VERDICT: Stop your grinnin’ and drop your linen, comic book sniffers, because Aliens: Defiance #1 is sure to thrill any fan of the franchise. Wood, Jones, and Jackson absolutely excel with this first issue. Maybe in space no one can hear you scream, but if you miss this one, everyone in the comic shop will surely hear your pain-filled weeping.
You can find out more about Aliens: Defiance by visiting the official Dark Horse Comics website. Plus, be sure to pre-order your copy of the comic with your local comic book shop by Monday, April 4th! (Pre-order code: FEB160010)
That’s all for now, comic book sniffers! Stay frosty and I’ll see you in thirty.
'Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer