Comic Book Review: Aliens: Dead Orbit #1
It feels weird opening up a brand new story for the Aliens Vs Predator franchise again. The newest original story was Alien: Defiance and that felt like ages ago as everything after that was following the next chapters for Life and Death. So here we are with a new story, with a new main lead, and hopefully something about this which separates this story from any of the others existing in this universe. At this point what we look for is a way into this universe that doesn’t feel too much of the same, and that is all you can ask for to have success.
From the flip of the first page you can tell that something has already happened here. James Stokoe jumps straight into trying to set the tone for this horror story as things seem all too quiet. It definitely leaves you with some mixed feelings as sometimes you don’t want to drop the whole story onto our laps, or in other words they take the approach of less is more. On the other hand you might feel that you need something significant to pull you in for where it takes for the story to actually pick up. For a start, I personally enjoy that when looking for those things that do separate this from other stories, it was easy to spot that this takes place on a Weyland-Yutani vessel. Any connection to that company leads to something good because they bring nothing but trouble.
This engineer officer, Wascylewski, it seems like it will without a doubt take some time to work up to getting to know this character. We know what he does, and the kind of person he is from interactions with his crew, though for now that is about it. That is actually enough for a first issue when what’s most important is the fear generated from this one man who is in way over his head trying to keep this scrapheap afloat while surviving this creature somewhere aboard.
Having said this, working up to what we see now as this space station is smart. You might know what comes after the destruction, but it doesn’t mean you know everything that happened up to that point. For someone like me I enjoy this kind of storytelling for the fact that you are just bracing yourself for the worst. I mean if this was a Xenomorph, how could one create so much trouble? Could it be as big as you fear it to be? Stokoe isn’t in a rush for us to find out, but somehow still delivers on what begins to get your blood pumping. What happens to that station and its crew isn’t as straightforward as your are led to believe. What brings about the start of their troubles certainly comes down to human error and the best kind which is naturally unintentional. You think that what would scare you is the obvious and all it took was.
In comparison to other AvP stories, if you were looking for unique then you look no further than to the artwork of James Stokoe. As I will always say, nothing is more impressive than someone who can pull off doing both the story and the art for a book like this and do it well. On the surface you probably would have looked at Stokoe’s pencils as average, but they are anything but when you really take in the level of detail he puts into every character and structure. With each flip of the page I found myself captivated by just the complexity he gives to this station from the inside out. This is clearly someone who has done his research in what makes stations and ships of these scales astonishing. I wouldn’t know if everything that makes up the structure of these things work, but they look like they do and that is what matters. But if there was one thing which impressed me the most, it is the way Stokoe captures the idea that the danger isn’t just what this Xenomorph is capable of. The danger can always be what these characters pose to themselves. Their choices, their mistakes, the things they do which you can’t help under duress. The colors are tame and for the best with so much going on. In some areas his colors are solid, in other places more organic, and he knows how to change things up to adjust to shifts in mood.
Aliens: Dead Orbit #1 is yet another story with potential. Life out in space already is no safe venture, but when you throw in the danger of Xenomorphs you are stepping into the absolute worst case scenario. We see this mess of a ship and just the taste of what goes wrong is enough to make you want to know the full story. Not to mention the need to understand what will make this engineer so special enough to survive this.