Comic Book Review: Aliens: Dead Orbit #2
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. Of all the recent AvP stories Dark Horse has released, I think Dead Orbit takes longer strides towards tapping into the horror of this universe. Claustrophobic is definitely the right word to describe this story when all there is to do is survive when stuck on an inoperable ship with a Xenomorph.
The panic instantly set in at the start of this second issue. I was taken back a bit by the situation this crew finds themselves dealing with after what happened to this other crew. By the look of the cover it was safe to assume that there were survivors from the cryotube incident, but that still couldn’t have prepared you for the scene we stepped into that was hard to stomach when being reminded of the things you should still be terrified of aside from aliens. This was smart because you always want to be quick to setting the mood. It’s easy to find yourself bored if nothing too significant is happening. I wouldn’t say any of this was for shock value rather than signifying that something isn’t right here for what happened and everyone should be on their toes for what that is.
When that moment of escalation hit, they nailed the execution with a solid build up of suspense. This crew was clearly not ready for what they got themselves into. What sells you on a book like Aliens: Dead Orbit is how you introduce the threat that is the Xenomorphs. James Stokoe did this the best way you can when the danger is right under your nose. The danger in dealing with Xenomorphs is that all it takes is a host and being stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time for all hell to break loose. Little time was wasting in coming to terms with how everything went wrong, and how we find ourselves with just Wascylewski.
When it comes to Wascylewski, it is still a slow crawl really getting much personality out of the guy. He’s not like most main characters you run into these days where there is automatically something to like about them. We are still awaiting that thing that will make him appealing aside from the most lackadaisical attitude during the build up to current events. His reflexes are indeed tested again when we switch back to present time. This part of the story does move a bit faster, though that change of pace does also keep you on guard for the sense of panic that comes with Wascylewski having to deal with keeping the ship together while dodging what we now know is a bit more of a challenging situation than what was assumed at the start.
James Stokoe continues to also bring out the horror in the art as well as the story. From that opening scene to the moment where everything went to crap, he captured exactly what it is you fear when you jump into a story like Aliens: Dead Orbit. He does have an interesting way of drawing someone who has their skin burnt off them, but all the same graphic enough to make you cringe. Stokoe has a strong attention to details that tells you he has a handle on things like the human anatomy and structures. Those are things you would recommend an artist have pat down when they tackle a story in this universe. I mean it is one thing to take in the experience of being burned that way, but what came after? Yeah, that is one way to say everyone is pretty ****ed.
With this second issue, Aliens: Dead Orbit becomes just as worthwhile of your time as any other of the books out on shelves from the AvP franchise. This book isn’t about the action, it is about reminding you of what it means to fear the Xenomorphs and feel helpless in the face of this danger.