Though I haven’t read Stokoe’s previous work, I have seen his art on various covers, but now I’m very tempted to check it out. The setup for Dead Orbit is like many Xenomorph books: A group of space travelers, in this case the crew of a Weyland-Yutani waystation, have come across a silent, unmarked vessel caught in the orbit of a planet, and they intend to do the right thing - check for survivors.
We already know that something has gone horribly wrong, as the main portion of the story is told in flashback with bookends focused on one of the characters. While thus far the Xenomorphs aren’t front and center, Stokoe finds other ways to make your skin crawl, which is what we want in an Alien book.
I really like James Stokoe’s art here; he actually controls every aspect of this book from story to art to lettering. He colors his pages with purple, orange, and yellow hues which give the environments a slightly natural, yet unsettling, feel.
These are colors that usually are supposed to calm people. Here, their presence highlights things that feel manufactured and without life. The lettering is really great; you can tell he has fun and tries to really tell the story on all levels.
While the story is just getting started, Stokoe has certainly given me fodder for my nightmares, and I may have a new worst way to die in my visual catalogue. If you’re a fan of the world of the Xenomorph, this book definitely has potential!