Dark Horse Comics 2017
By James Stokoe
After a horrific accident strikes a space station, an engineering officer must use all available tools—a timer, utility kit, and his wits—to survive an attack from the deadliest creature known to man.
I have been and remain a huge fan of the Alien franchise and with everything that Dark Horse has been doing with it. I mean where else are we going to see fresh new takes on the terror that the xenomorphs bring by some of the top minds in the industry? Well add the voice, and artistic talents, of James Stokoe to that because this issue once again strikes all the right chords we look for in an Aliens story.
I like the way this starts off as we see at least one survivor, for the time being anyway before going back to how it all began. The setting being used this time around however isn’t a planet or really technically a ship it’s a station. The Weyland-Yutani Sphacteria to be precise and it’s a fuel depot/way station way out there. I think James choice in locations is inspired and immediately sets itself apart from what we’ve seen in the past. Also it is a great tool for that closed in feeling of claustrophobia and that helpless feeling of being trapped and that you’ll never escape. It’s literally one of those terrifying scenarios before it’s out of the gate.
It’s clear to me that James is a fan of the franchise just from what i’m experiencing this issue. He understands what the reader is going to want from a story standpoint and his story development, pacing and characterisation provide the beginning of superb tale. The feeling we get from the station crews interactions has that right mix of camaraderie that camouflages the fear of being so far from home in the depths of space.
The interiors here are fantastic! The way page layouts are utilised through their angles, perspective and backgrounds full of attention to detail make this a real joy. There are moments that the desolation of their position mixes with the station so you have that duality of feeling comforted yet alone and small. The faces, facial expressions and body language help keep the characterisation moving forward. Plus James has this incredibly splendid style that keeps you invested in what’s happening on the page.
I cannot express enough how much this embodies that specific emotion that fans of the franchise WANT to experience. That feeling of helplessness, hope, despair and sheer abject terror at the unfolding of events which seem to mean the end of all. While we are introduced to the station’s crew who perform a rescue mission aboard a non-responsive freighter and we know what’s going to happen in the abstract it’s what James has in store that sets us quivering in anticipation.
Another Alien story to knock our socks off. I’ve huge respect for James for not only being able to show what this franchise embodies but to by doing it all himself. What a friggin talent!