MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
Aliens: Life and Death #1 is the next chapter in Dark Horse’s new Aliens/Predator/Prometheus comics timeline (originating in the Fire and Stone titles and continuing on in Predator: Life and Death and Prometheus: Life and Death) and continues the story of the human survivors stranded on LV-223 as they attempt to work together to battle hordes of xenomorphs, pissed-off Engineers, and whatever else the strange planet decides to throw at them.
Abnett and Moritat offer a strong first issue that hits the ground running and incorporates a number of elements that made James Cameron’s film such a suspenseful and thrilling sci-fi classic. As is to be expected when facing the perfect organism, Abnett keeps the body count brutally high and envelops his story with the same sense of chaos and battle fatigue that made audiences feel trapped with the Colonial Marines on LV-426 in Aliens. The unsavory odds, the low level of ammunition, the team members who snap (mentally) under the pressure of the circumstances, and the constant attacks from the alien creatures - all of these ingredients are filtered through Moritat’s bold and stylized art style (and further improved by the vivid colors of Rain Beredo) to create a dish that was crafted for the palette of Aliens fans everywhere.
If there’s any concern I have regarding Aliens: Life and Death, it’s more rooted in the format of Dark Horse’s current serialized approach to the Aliens/Predator/Prometheus comics. While the connected feel of these “shared universes” and the ability to spend more time developing the human cast of characters seem like a major advantages for the Fire and Stone and Life and Death timelines, there are times where I wish for the looser continuity of the old “standalone miniseries” approach to the Aliens comic line used in the '80s and '90s. That said, while I may worry slightly about readers feeling lost if they pick up a later book, Brian Wood’s Aliens: Defiance is very much in the spirit of the kind of continuity I’m talking about when regarded in its relation to the Life and Death line, and fans do love their serialized entertainment these days. Remember when I said Dark Horse was damn good at making these Aliens comics?
FINAL VERDICT: You don’t want to miss Aliens: Life and Death #1 if you’ve been following so far, and if you’re willing to soldier through some lack of backstory, this is a great place to jump in for an Aliens fan craving a little more Colonial Marine vs. Xenomorph action. (There’s even an APC.)
Aliens: Life and Death #1 doesn’t drop into stores until September 21, 2016, but I know my fellow comic book sniffers out there are going to want to “stay frosty and let it rock” by pre-ordering this bad boy! The final order cutoff for pre-orders is on Monday, August 29th, 2016! You can find out more about Aliens: Life and Death #1 at the official Dark Horse Comics website.
'Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer