Amanda Ripley (daughter of Sigourney Weaver’s iconic heroine) and ex-Colonial Marine Zula Hendricks continue to rage against the machine in Aliens: Resistance #2, released this month from Dark Horse Comics. Continuing the story that writer Brian Wood and artist Tristian Jones established in the Aliens: Defiance mini-series, Wood (now paired with artist Robert Carey) uses the second issue to shed a bit of light of on some of Weyland-Yutani’s darkest secrets, while also making it quite clear that no one’s safe return is guaranteed from this deadly mission.
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
Aliens: Resistance #2 sees Ripley and Hendricks traveling to a Weyland-Yutani black site in an attempt to prevent some sort of mysterious weaponizing of the xenomorph species. Things only become worse when the realize the Company is diverting ships carrying colonists in some sort of secret experimentation. Guarded by terrifying and brutal androids that can track human intruders literally by the smell of their breath, the whole issue has got the feel of a suicide mission and, like with much in the Alien universe, there are no promises in the end.
The second issue of Resistance demonstrates why Wood is such a smart choice when it comes to weaving the main thread of Dark Horse’s current Aliens mythos, as the writer crafts both plot and character superior to the last handful of films in the franchise’s history. The sight of hooded prisoners being corralled into a corporate black site brings to mind unsettling parallels to Gitmo and the recent rise in authoritarianism (while the forced inhalation of potentially deadly gases by these captives breeds even darker connotations), but also grounds the series with a dark and gritty edge that seems to be ever present in each story told within the franchise. One of the more fascinating elements of the Alien stories have always been how they reflect our own world, scars and all.
Additionally, when it comes to the relationship between Ripley and Hendricks, Wood gives us something that has yet to take center stage in an Alien film: one of our first true depictions of female friendship in the franchise. To be fair, Alien: Resurrection dipped its toe in this pool with its offbeat connection between the clone, Ripley 8, and the android known as Call, but the film barely scratched the surface. While the more recent films have been in a constant search for a lone female figure to pick up the mantel of the series’ iconic heroine, Resistance has quietly found a way to honor the feminist roots of the source material without becoming a pale shadow of what’s come before. It’s a subtle, yet drastically important, accomplishment for the book and its creative team. Given audiences’ fascination with the xenomorphs, not every Aliens comic leans on the strength of its characters, but Resistance certainly does and that speaks to a real strength in the writing.
Carey’s sequential artwork pairs excellently with Wood’s script and seems even stronger than the premiere issue. Carey’s sequentials for the second issue show the artist has clearly mastered the spacecraft, synthetics, and tech-heavy environments that are trademark elements of nearly all Alien stories, but where he truly exceeds expectations in Resistance #2 is with the powerful emotional moments that take place between Hendricks and Ripley.
– Without wandering too far into spoiler territory, those who got a thrill from Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity will get similar spine-tingles from this issue of Resistance. It’s another great example of Wood exploring intriguing and exciting territory that Alien films have yet to tackle in earnest.
– In a subtle nod to James Cameron’s Aliens, duct tape is there in a pinch for our heroes.
– In this issue, Wood and Carey offer one of the more terrifying android assaults depicted in an Alien story, with a powerful synthetic brutally attempting to shatter someone’s spacesuit helmet while they are in vacuum. The scene captures the inherent fear of both Ash’s attack on Ripley in the original film and the ominous “Working Joes” of the Alien: Isolation video game.
– Speaking of Alien: Isolation, this series definitely seems to assume that readers are familiar with Amanda Ripley’s experiences in the video game, and this may (pardon the pun) end up isolating some readers. Resistance is a quality comic, so most fans will push through, but it’ll be interesting to see how Dark Horse balances the need for fans to know the plot of the video game as Amanda Ripley continues to take a more prominent spot in the franchise across various media. (In fact, an Alien: Isolation digital series was just announced today.)
FINAL VERDICT: Aliens: Resistance #2 both builds and improves on the first issue of the series, which is a great sign for the future of the series. Given the high quality of the previous series, Aliens: Defiance, Wood and Carey’s Resistance series deserves the highest recommendation in regards to Aliens fans, and expectations for the future issues are, predictably, high.
Creative Team: Brian Wood (story), Robert Carey (art), Dan Jackson (colors), Nate Piekos of Blambot (letters), Roberto De La Torre (cover art),
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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Also, be sure to read my review of issue #1 of Aliens: Resistance.