‘Aliens: Dead Orbit #2’ - Advance Comic Book Review

James Stokoe’s vision for Aliens: Dead Orbit is one of visceral terror. The Xenomorph is nightmare fuel, not because its origins are unknown, but because it spits in the face of what is natural. It laughs at what we know with absolute certainty to be true. They are an aberration of sex and sexuality. Aliens is a highly subversive creation, as it was with Giger’s art. It somehow, more than most things, captures the imagination of its viewers unlike most other cinematic monsters, because it is tangibly amoral. As a species, we mean nothing to it.

Stokoe certainly understands this. His cinematic visuals and his beautifully cold color palettes (purples and blues with dashes of red and hazy yellow) create an atmosphere and a horror that live up to franchise’s themes and terrors. As far as story goes, Stokoe hasn’t yet strayed too far from well-trodden territory.

A crew happens upon a defunct space station. Aboard, they find sleeping pods filled with humans. These humans are burned within a fraction of their lives in a scene that is fraught with nightmares. So, the crew brings them on board their own ship to treat them. Of course, they’re breaking protocol. (When don’t characters in Alien stories do this?)  While they try to figure out what happened to the rest of the crew (There are eight and they’ve only found three.), the Aliens surface.

The structure of the story is where Stokoe hangs his hat. He’s created two mysteries and therefore two reasons to keep reading. In the present tense, what appears to be a sole crew member is fending off the Xenomorphs on his own while the station falls apart around him as he remembers what got him there, which is the story that is slowly unfolding throughout the rest.

I don’t think it’s the story that’s ultimately going to draw fans to this comic, though maybe the solution to the mystery will be mindbogglingly good. Instead, I think it’ll be the pleasant-to-the-eyes art work. The visceral feel these books contain provide a feeling like you’re playing Alien: Isolation. Sokoe has tapped into that element of the Alien universe with aplomb.

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