When I finished reading and reviewing Shards: Volume 1, I was eagerly ready for more content from the creators of In Hiatus Studios. Getting my hands on a digital copy of the second anthology was as exciting as my first read of Volume 1, and the wait was well worth it.

“We typically don’t know what we have until it’s lost” is a lesson that many of us heard growing up, and it’s one that Jack Boniface has to contend with in this issue of Shadowman. For years, he’s wanted to be rid of the Ioa, and in Issue #10, he is finally free from his curse, but everything always has a consequence of some sort.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve never read Michael Moorcock’s books.  I’ve read almost every other fantasy writer, but, for some reason, I never got around to him. As I bow my head in shame, I can say that I finally know what has fascinated readers about the sword, Stormbringer, and the White Wolf (a.k.a. Elric of Melniboné).  Like all heroes (or anti-heroes), they carry a burden far greater than any of us could bear.

I read issue one of The Empty Man, but a concussion kept me from writing the review at the time, so here we are at issue two as Cullen Bunn taps into what makes online urban myths like The Tall Man spooky as hell to me. The Empty Man is a virus, or maybe a person, or maybe both that gets into the heads of its victims, making them do erratic and violent things. It can affect anyone at any time. It makes you see things, think things, believe things. It alters your reality. The idea is unnerving. The execution makes it more so.

Ho, ho, Hellboy, the magical man in red is coming to your comic store this holiday (this Wednesday to be specific), and he brings with him some most welcome friends. Considering that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday, a Hellboy Winter Special seems far more fitting than our usual festivities. I wonder if the Winter Solstice festivals around the world would ever consider incorporating this wonderful creation and bizarre world of talking animals and snotty spirits into their celebrations. If this new movie is a hit (Fingers crossed!), Hulu or Amazon should do a Hellboy Winter Special… but I digress…

When I started playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in December of 2017, I was immediately entranced by the beautiful, open-world design of the game, the immersive storyline, and the intricate character design. For me, the game mechanics were (and remain) secondary to the more narrative elements of the text. I was thrilled to receive a review copy of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Creating a Champion, because it allowed me to further indulge in the rich fantasy space of the Zelda universe.

I know this is issue #1 of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D 1956, but, really, it’s an ongoing series that’s well into its run. Be that as it may, this issue is sort of ground zero for a new story arc, and I thought I’d see how easy it would be for me to jump on board. While there are some story beats between characters that are lost on me, the general sense of the events are pretty understandable.

This week marks the release of the second issue of Dark Horse Comics’ Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay, a comic book adaptation of William Gibson’s unused stab at the third film in the Alien franchise. Featuring a script and artwork from Johnnie Christmas and colors from Tamra Bonvillain, the second issue of this unusual adaptation lights a fuse to the powder keg that really can only eventually reach its inevitable and disastrous end. And, if the Alien franchise has taught fans anything, it’s the fact that disaster always multiplies when xenomorphs are in the mix.

MINOR SPOILERS BELOW



Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay #2 continues to lay out the aftermath of the Colonial Marine mission to the colony located on LV-426 (depicted in the feature film, Aliens). With temporary access to the top half of the android known as Bishop, the Union of Progressive Peoples are now fully aware of the xenomorph species, of Weyland-Yutani’s attempts to acquire the creatures for their own use, and the aliens’ potential military applications. U.P.P. quickly moves forward with its own plans to weaponize the deadly beasts, while “The Company” makes use of its access to the marine spacecraft known as the Sulaco and the battle-scarred Corporal Hicks, with a continued eye towards doing the same as their rival. It very quickly becomes quite clear that no matter which group of humanity has access to the xenomorphs, it will end very badly for us all.

The second issue of Alien 3 is the windup for a punch that is most certainly coming in the upcoming issues. There are a lot of moving chess pieces in Christmas’ script - a newly hatched xenomorph aboard the Sulaco, U.P.P.’s aggressive reaction behind the scenes to the knowledge found in Bishop’s “head” and their political (and *polite*) public posturing, and the “positioning” of Newt, Hicks, and Ripley by Weyland-Yutani corporation. Longtime Aliens fans will be sure to enjoy even more time with some of their favorite characters from director James Cameron’s film (especially given that they “escape” their sudden and shocking deaths from David Fincher’s third film), and Christmas does an excellent job of continuing the fascinating “Cold War arms race” parallels taking place between U.P.P. and Weyland-Yutani over the xenomorph and its military applications. The creatures falling into the hands of a corporate bio-weapons division has been a consistent threat throughout the Aliens franchise, and Christmas’ and Gibson’s story has dropped the speculation, prepared to show readers exactly where human greed will lead us in the world of Alien. As Nikita Khrushchev once said of nuclear war, “The survivors would envy the dead.” It seems the quote would aptly apply to humanity’s disastrous (yet fictional) quest to wield the xenomorph as a weapon.


Miscellaneous Notes:

- I’d be remiss to not mention Christmas’ amazing cover art for this issue, featuring the prone image of the android Bishop, still in the same condition since the Queen Alien ripped him in two. White android internal fluid trails down his face from his eyes and nose, conjuring images of both tears and blood. Bishop is the only figure we see in a pale, yellowish/cream-colored background, and his eyes are rolled back into his head while his mouth is open in a silent scream of protest. It’s a simplistic and artful cover that unsettlingly communicates the tragedy of the Bishop character in this story and how he’s being used as an unwilling tool in humanity’s rush towards their own destruction.

- Speaking of great art, this issue features one of the most vicious-looking chestburster images ever put to page in an Aliens comic book. Kudos, Mr. Christmas!


Final Verdict: While this issue may be less action packed than the last, Aliens fans have always been interested in more than just spectacle in their stories. In this way, Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay #2 is exactly what fans desire, giving readers a chance to reunite with Hicks and Newt while “The Company” and its rival ratchet up detailed plans and corporate/political maneuvering that the xenomorphs will be only too happy to exploit in the coming issues.


Creative Team: William Gibson (story), Johnnie Christmas (adaptation script and art), Tamra Bonvillain (color art), Nate Paikos of Blambot (lettering), Johnnie Christmas with Tamra Bonvillain (cover), James Harren (variant cover)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Click here to purchase.


Just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy all of the spooks and scares of Blackwood. Investigate the strange, unusual happenings of the occult through the lens of some troubled college kids on a campus of nightmares.

Things are getting dangerous in Joe Golem: Occult Detective - The Drowning City #4. What’s happened thus far is a pretty tangled web of intrigue and occult-style mystery. Over the last three story arcs, some pretty intricate layers have been built. The foundation is that of Joe and his boss/father figure Mr. Church. Mr. Church is a complex individual, alive well beyond his years, fighting against dark forces. He’s old enough now that he has to use Joe to do the foot work. Basically, Joe is the muscle. Mr. Church also helps Joe to forget. The fact is, Joe is older than Mr. Church, and as his name implies, he’s not necessarily human. Anytime Joe becomes confused with dreams of a distant past featuring a golem that killed witches, Mr. Church gives him tea that muddies his brain and causes him to forget.

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