Comic Book Review: Aliens: Dust to Dust #1
I was not expecting there to be another Aliens mini yet, but I’ve loved all the new ones so far. Credit where it is due for Dark Horse that they have not let up with satisfying Aliens fans with at least one or two memorable stories a year. I was very much looking forward to the release this week which I felt more excitement for realizing that they cleverly scheduled this a day before Aliens Day.
The best thing about these stories is that they could either be a part of a larger story, or they can be self-contained like this one and easy to jump in. It feels good having another horror story like this on my pull-list. With so many Aliens stories that have come out in recent years, the main attraction for each story is how they focus on the situation contrasting from the rest. Your expectation is always that they will find a new way to scare us or introduce us to the terror that is the Xenomorphs. They succeeded in this from the very start of this issue. When this is another mini series, pacing is key whether you aim to start off with the horror or build up to it. This creative team’s approach I enjoyed because little time was wasted diving into what happens when you run into the threat of the Xenomorphs unknowingly. I mean I will say its nothing new that the people affected have no idea what’s going on. Maybe this is because Weyland Yutani is involved and cover up these incidents, but nothing too surprising there. What you can see redeemable is the setting of this story taking place on a planet where an actual colony like the Trono colony exists. I most cases these are isolated encounters.
With that said, from the start of this issue they also took advantage of suspense when you could already see where things would go wrong for this twelve-year-old Maxon and his mom. Their problem here is not understanding that they may already be screwed, which goes beyond the challenge of evacuating or getting past the Aliens to evacuate. They teased hard what was easy to piece together on your own. Regardless, this didn’t change how these two reacted to the world around them descending into madness.
By the end of this issue, I could see where this could be a coming-of-age story. Clearly the main character was Maxon, and off the bat that changes everything when we are looking at this from a kid’s perspective. In more ways than one he got an understanding of just what they were running for. How they got the big message across to him was quite tragic because as I said, the odds were not in their favor from the start. We aren’t used to that kind of predicament which makes this interesting.
When it comes to the Aliens books, this style of artwork I’ve always felt works best. What we tend to want from these stories visually is grit. That was exactly what we got through the pencil work of Michael Heisler. He set the tone for a story that was meant to be rough between the expression towards this madness and the violence inflicted by these monsters. There wasn’t much exploration of the Trono colony on LV-871, but I could overlook this from the rendering of what a colony would look like when ravaged by the Xenomorphs. That was a scene of horror. Collateral damage seen on every street, bodies eaten or melted, not a panel was wasted to add to the urgency in getting to that shuttle before the Xenomorphs do. The shading made a big difference in creating that look of horror etched across the faces of these characters. It also helped when adding to the sense of mass to this army of Xenomorphs tearing across this colony.
Aliens: Dust to Dust #1 was a solid start to this new encounter with the Xenomorphs. It never gets any easier to follow these unsuspecting humans who are staring down death itself, but the thrill is in how they survive. Never before has the word survive been harder to say when it is a kid we are hoping to see this through to the end.