Comic Book Review: Aliens: Dead Orbit #4
Wow, I am truly shocked this week. When I saw this issue pop up on my pull-list, I had to double-check that this wasn’t an error. To find out it was not caught me off guard. The last issue was in July, and honestly four or so months is more than enough to forget that this miniseries wasn’t finished yet. Regardless, it is good to see that Aliens: Dead Orbit will see a conclusion since it is another unique story from the AvP comic franchise.
The issue before was unexpected for me considering you may have thought this story began with the understanding that everyone else already died. It added a lot more fear to this story to realize that this was not the case. Especially when aside from Wascylewski, the rest of these characters are pretty much bringing about their own end. That cliffhanger we were left on was probably one of the most cringeworthy things to do since no one wants to die because someone else can’t keep it together. The only thing that wasn’t all too different about Dead Orbit is that these are humans who were screwed from the minute they ran into a xenomorph and not know how to handle this danger. Most people don’t, but they were really blindsided and not the most organized crew.
For these four issues, the horror lied in the suspense. It was all about how this would end for the crew. When you already know that they are screwed, the next thing is bracing yourself for how they will all go down. One is at least calm and collective, one is a bit too aggressive, and the other broke upon first contact. Being a claustrophobic story also helped since there was little room to run. The worst you could ever deal with is an enemy who is faster than you, stronger than you, bigger than you, and has you in the confines of a ship. If that were me, the panic would really set in even if these were familiar grounds.
That aside, the transition between scenes was handled well enough to follow Wascylewski’s one last gambit aboard the space station, and see what happened leading up to these moments. Finding himself ambushed by two more deadly xenomorphs was the best way to up the stakes since there was no more hiding. I remember in the first issue where I thought this was going to be one of those stories that keep you at the edge of your seat through the main character needing to maintain silence to survive. But that can only go for so long before you need something to happen. I’m actually glad something happened since Wascylewski isn’t like most that you run into in these situations. Most struggle with their emotions, but he is someone who goes in with a plan and tries to see it through. His last gambit was bold and not something most would think to do on the spot.
Seeing the artwork for this final issue, part of me at the same time could understand why this took a bit of time to put out. Credit where it is due whenever a creator like James Stokoe handles the writing, artwork, and lettering. A big accomplishment when you can do it all on your own, but a reminder that not everyone can do it and put out issues every other week or month consistently. With that said, I loved how much was packed into this issue visually. We witnessed what happened to the rest of the crew, and we got to follow the suspenseful last move from Wascylewski. As I said above, it was creative how Stokoe framed both sides of this story to run alongside the other. It all matched what each person is doing in that moment and the atmosphere set in those select moments. He as well really took us on an exploration around this ship. For one so big, not once did we visit the same place twice which is appreciated. Especially when this last move took us also into space for a memorable action sequence. It was different that by the end of this issue the word that came to mind from the artwork was explosive rather than gory.
Aliens: Dead Orbit #4 was as tragic as it gets when you find your world turned upside down by an encounter with xenomorphs. For as much as you find yourself rooting for Wascylewski to make it to the end, reaching that point was heartbreaking when understanding what the end of the line tends to mean regardless. There are no happy endings for even the survivors. This was another addition to the AvP collection that you will hopefully treasure because it offers you the terror and fear that consumes you with every passing issue.