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‘Aliens: Dead Orbit #4’ - Advance Comic Book Review

James Stokoe’s four-part Alien romp comes to a close. While it doesn’t really add anything new or fresh to the Alien mythos or stray from already well-trodden ground, every issue has evoked a visceral thrill with its visual creativity that’s made it an enjoyable experience for me, a fan of the acid-spewing space monster.

The story is simple: Some people venturing into space come across a station. I was reading the fourth issue, and I honestly couldn’t remember who they were or what they were doing out there. The characters and plot never really seemed to be all that important to the action that unfolded. They bring aboard three people who were burned within an inch of their lives, each carrying inside them a baby Xenomorph. Chaos ensues when they hatch from their human eggs, and it’s pretty much about survival from there on out. A very simple set up, with no big twists or character developments – just survival.  Stokoe finds a little story leverage from a slightly non-linear bookend framing device with each issue, but in the end it doesn’t amount to any big surprises.

Stokoe’s strength here is his visual acuity. The way he lays out the panels draws your eyes fluidly from one action to the next. It’s playfully cinematic and imaginative. You’re drawn into the action, and, at its best, Stokoe comes about as close as you can to feeling the intensity of a real filmic action scene with two-dimensional drawings. In the details, he shows us some things that we haven’t seen before (Alien acid blood in zero-g), but the moments pass so quickly that he doesn’t always fully take advantage of them.

In the end, a few simple story beats, character clarifications, or motivations outside of “survive” would have elevated the mini-series from visually agreeable to quirky Alien story unlike anything you’re seen, because it does have a certain quirkiness to it that I liked.

What’s really stellar? The covers. The cover of the fourth issue shows that the ship is sort of taking over the bodies of the human and Alien. The implications of this visual are really only there for the cover, but, man, would it have been interesting if those implications had found their way into the book somehow.

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