One moment that I remember very clearly was the day I discovered that somebody was publishing Alien comics. Up until then, the Alien franchise was serious lacking in the merchandise department. As a child obsessed with these films, I was starved for something Alien-related I could hold in my grubby, little hands besides my increasingly dark and violent sketches. Dark Horse comics earned my life-long loyalty in a heartbeat with their awesome and intelligent stories of horror in deep space. While I enjoy every film in the series, excluding the atrocities that are the Alien vs. Predator films, Dark Horse really did amazing things with the series, constantly pushing the limits. The comic book format is truly where the Alien franchise shines! Having covered a multitude of different events and stories, Dark Horse even managed to touch on Scott’s suggestion for a sequel: the story of the Space Jockey. This will be the first in a series of blogs that will explore the Alien franchise and prepare for Scott’s upcoming prequel, Prometheus. The focus of this first entry will be a review of the Space Jockey’s most prominent appearances in the pages of Dark Horse. And, remember, comic book sniffers, in space no one can hear you scream.
Aliens: Outbreak - Conveniently available in the Aliens Omnibus Volume 1 from Dark Horse, this story was written by Mark Verheiden and was originally a sequel to Aliens, which followed an aging Hicks and a twenty-something Newt as they faced the alien horde once more. After Alien 3, Dark Horse re-released the stories with Hicks and Newt renamed as the original characters, Wilks and Billie. Featuring the first appearance of the Space Jockey in comic book form, the creature ends up saving a ragged group of space marines under from a pack of xenomorphs, but only out of pure hatred for the acid-bleeding creatures. Apparently, the Space Jockey skeleton the Nostromo discovered was a friend of this Space Jockey. It is discovered that the Space Jockey also can communicate with humans telepathically through images and emotions. Unfortunately, the humans discover the Space Jockey’s malevolent nature only after leading the being to Earth. Upon discovering mankind’s home, the Space Jockey communicates a plan of future destruction and enslavement for the human race before disappearing into the cold emptiness of space, leaving our human heroes pondering how soon these “conquerors” will be returning.
The Alien - This short one-shot comic by John Arcudi, also available in the Aliens Omnibus Volume 1, is a truly creepy and suspenseful addition to the Alien mythology. Taking place after Aliens: Outbreak and a lengthy storyline involving mankind losing Earth to the xenomorphs and then finally retaking it with the help of Ellen Ripley herself, this story happens just as humans are beginning to repopulate Earth. The premise revolves around a Space Jockey ship which enters Earth’s orbit and begins to change the world’s climate, presumably in an attempt claim the world for its own. In an attempt to find a resolution to the issue, the United States president and members of his administration attempt to meet with the Space Jockey, face-to-face, on its spacecraft. As one can expect, it’s not long after the two species meet before things get complicated with an all out attack by the extremely powerful and deadly Space Jockey, the reveal of certain members of the administration as synthetics and the president’s final weapon: the chestburster he’s carrying inside him!
Aliens: Apocalypse - Destroying Angels - This four part series by Mark Schultz is probably the closest to what Prometheus will ultimately be. Regarded as one of the best series in the Dark Horse run, this story follows a Deep-Space Rescue Specialist who uncovers the origins of the Space Jockey race and how they first encountered the deadly xenomorphs. Many long-standing mysteries in the Alien series are answered, but not enough to completely limit any further exploration down the line. Artist Doug Wheatley provides stellar art that only strengthens the power of Schultz’s story.
While there are many prominent theories regarding the original Space Jockey from Ridley Scott’s Alien, ranging from being the creators of the xenomorphs to simply being a military “bomber” of some sort which used the alien eggs as ammunition in some ancient war, we can expect that Prometheus will carve its own story from this mythology. Reports have stated that the Space Jockeys will be present in the film and may end up abducting certain human characters and subject them to bizarre and disturbing forms of torture and experimentation (including forcing male humans to mate repeatedly in an attempt to “breed” them. Apparently, the Space Jockeys don’t understand the concept of gender at that point.) Given the primal terror that Ridley Scott has already tapped into with Alien, I’m hoping we can expect great things from Prometheus and the mysterious and unsettling Space Jockey.