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Alien (2021) #1 [Review]

alien(2021)_001Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Color Art: Guru-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: InHyuk Lee
Variants: [Too Many]
Design: Jay Bowden
Assistant Editor: Shannon Andrews Ballesteros
Editor: Jake Thomas
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: May 2021
Story Pages: 30
Info Pages/Credits Pages: 2 (double-page spread)
Cover Price: $4.99

There’s a lot to unpack here, mostly cosmetic and comparison.

They very first thing for me is that–as always–there are TOO MANY DARNED VARIAN COVERS. Do a pin-up gallery or something! Give us bonus art pages–the back cover, the inside covers, I don’t know. Knock it off with all the ****ed variants, though!

Secondly but still surfacey…what a freaking BORING logo. Basically just a spaced-out generic FONT. In my (surely vast) ignorance on the matter, I do not "get" the shift in branding to ALIEN (singular, with boring/generic font as "logo") away from the more dynamic, attention-grabbing ALIENS with the glowy effect and such. Same sorta problem I have with the novels from Titan. Maybe it differentiates a bit from Dark Horse-published stuff, but….I’m rather irked at all the crap regarding the licensing and such anyway, so this does nothing to endear this to my heart! While I know that the logo for the original 1978 film was basically just this "boring/generic font as ‘logo,’" the logo for the 1986 film was much more interesting, so in terms of using a logo from the series, it’s not like that one isn’t available (as far as I am aware, as just some dumb customer).

Thirdly and (also still surface stuff): yet another $4.99 #1. I pay $5/issue for a LOT of stuff lately, and generally without complaint (I’m looking at current-day X-BOOKS stuff in admitting that). But then, those are things I’ve been buying en masse and not sitting down to "analyze" and specifically, singularly discuss as a single-issue item in a relative vacuum. $5 gets you 5 things from Dollar Tree. You can go more upscale and get something at Five Below. But a mere 2 $5s is $10; 4 is $20, and that $20 might net you a "fine" condition back-issue (even a "key"!) decades-old that will be more memorable and appreciated than SEVERAL generic modern issues flocked by oodles of generic variant covers.

So, getting back to the cover: While on a technical level, this cover’s not bad….it’s very, very generic. It’s nothing but a pin-up image of a lone Xenomorph on a black background, with generic white text denoting several creators and the title. Nothing about ANY specific characters, or the world of the franchise, not even any sort of creepy background or something to be atmospheric beyond a lone creature coming out of the darkness with enough light glinting off of it that–the more I think on it–the more it seems there should be SOMEthing visible besides the creature.

We open on flashback/dream stuff of someone in some sort of capsule with "Alien Inside" painted on it from the outside (with spray-paint? With blood?) and come to find one Gabriel Cruz talking with his therapist–a Bishop-model synthetic. He’s retiring from his position as Security Chief on Weyland-Yutani’s Epsilon Station to go back to Earth and try to rebuild a relationship with his son. We then briefly meet a couple, conspiring on something…and find that the male is Cruz’s son, Danny. He’s feigning his part of patching things over to get ahold of his dad’s old W-Y badge. After they split, we get more insight into Cruz and his background and this dream sequence thing in a Xenomorph hive, seems to be about another son since lost. Back to Epsilon Station and the son, girlfriend, and others bust in, murdering indiscriminately, and find that they’ve breached a laboratory rather than a server farm. They find scientists still present, and before they can all be killed, a lockdown is initiated, destruction ensues, and facehugging commences. To Be Continued…

The flashback/dream stuff here is obviously present to have the Xenomorphs make an appearance in the issue for an issue that is part of a Serialized Graphic Novel that does not feature the titular creature(s) in its first quarter (sixth?). The comic IS titled ALIEN, after all, and I’m sure Marvel would hope loads of "new readers" would flock to their iteration of the title just for that word "MARVEL" on the cover and buy into the thing. This is Marvel, but this isn’t 2001 Hide-The-Hero Marvelright? And other than these bits, this is basically just a comic about normal humans with typical-ish (albeit 200 years in the future) human technology. No superpowers, no gaudy costumes, no hopeful musical montages.

The art itself is good quality; I like the appearance; and there’s nothing "bad art" about this thing in and of itself. Between the glimpse at the Xenomorphs/nest and present-day stuff, just flipping through this it looks like an Aliens comic. (Oops. Sorry. ALIEN. Singular. Darn that "s"…)

Story-wise…I’m neither impressed nor disgusted. This in no way reads as anything new or spectacular; there’s nothing revelatory or really…anything different whatsoever from pretty much any other Alien/Aliens comic published by Dark Horse. The story is a couple hundred years in the future from us as readers; it’s set after Alien and Aliens (preserving the film canon/timeline) but otherwise is a bit nebulous and indistinct. We have some arbitrarily-chosen human protagonist, haunted by something horrible that happened in the past either to him directly or to someone close to him that involved creatures in darkness that he may or may not know what they are–while we (the reader) know (by the title on the cover, at least) exactly what they are. Yadda yadda yadda, Weyland-Yutani is evil, misguided people accidentally wind up loosing facehuggers to begin an outbreak, etc…blah blah blah.

We do have 30 story-pages (as opposed to a standard 20) so the extra 10 pages for $1 are a better value than a standard $2 per 10 pages. We also get a double-paged spread of 2 pages "infopage"/"credits pages" with dramatic placement, going for a cinematic presentation. Cold open, slight development, bam! Credits, scene cut…comics. Nothing special or original. Despite my annoyance with Almost Every First Issue Must Be An Oversized Five Dollar Thing Heaven Forbid First Issues Just Be First Issues, the TECHNICAL "value" is there, so…yeah.

While by no means a "bad issue," this lacks anything significant–to me, at least–for being a NEW #1, fro a "NEW" publisher, etc. 30 years of Dark Horse publishing Aliens comics, and then Marvel gets the license due to the Disney buyout. And a bit of a gap from DH trailing off and nothing at all for a few months. And now "the big debut" from Marvel (my phrasing, not Marketing) and the property is not even given the Star Wars RUSH/deluge of publishing (as I’m recalling from 2015, Marvel had an omnibus AND first issue of new Star Wars ongoing published the very first week of 2015 when their license went officially active, followed either that same month or immediate months after with multiple other series.) These were directly, overtly placed in a singular, known timeline, building a new/additional canon.

Alien, however, does/did not get this. No, this is a new series launched practically FOUR MONTHS into  Marvel having had the license. That Omnibus? It’s not even due til sometime later in April. And…but for the title on the cover (ALIEN singular) and the publisher logo (MARVEL)–there is really no difference…no new or exciting feel, no particular tone (whether internal or external/meta) to indicate this is any sort of a new era, nothing about new/rebuilding canon, just nothing at all that there’s anything that Marvel brings to the table that Dark Horse did not.

Except that Dark Horse never did umpteen variants on a single issue.

speculators_guide_marvels_alien_001a

By and large, this issue could certainly just be the first issue of the next Dark Horse-published mini-series. The art is good, but nothing new for the property. The story is good, but nothing new for the property. The (main, ignoring variants) cover isn’t bad, but nothing new for the property.

If you’re already a fan of the property and were regularly buying the content from Dark Horse, this should be right in line with any of that and thus no reason not to buy Marvel‘s #1. If you’re newly interested in Alien/Aliens/etc. in comics, this is just as decent a jumping-on point as any other #1 with the title on the cover. I suppose the only real difference is that where so many "firsts" were already exhausted by Dark Horse, this provides a Marvel Modern Reset to stuff, dragging a 30-year-old comics property into a New Age for New Speculation.

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Aliens Day 2017

It’s interesting to see the various "days" that folks have come up with. Seems like there’s something for every day of the year. Where once there were "Hallmark Holidays," now even those would be prestigious rarities by comparison.

That said, one of the ones that I can actually appreciate is Aliens Day. April 26th…or 4/26. As in LV-426, the planetoid with the colony that the Colonial Marines and Ripley went (back) to in the film Aliens all those years back.

And as one of my all-time favorite franchises, and not having properly observed it last year in its inaugural outing, I figured I’d dedicate a post to it this year.

Yet, I don’t have anything lengthy or long-winded; I could ramble about my thoughts on the films, the books, etc; some memories tied up in stuff around obtaining various pieces of my collection, but I don’t actually have the time or patience at present.

SO, in lieu of lots of words, I’ll let some photos do most of the "talking."

Aliens Day 2017…here is my Aliens collection.

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The films. Well, the Blu-Ray editions, anyway–once upon a time, I had the Aliens Quadrilogy dvd box set–the 9-foot-long thing with all those discs and such. I also had all the single films on dvd, with a couple different editions of Alien and Aliens. I’ve since bought a pale imitation of the Quadrilogy dvd–bare-bones films–BUT that one came with a code for a digital copy, giving me a digital set of the first four films.

And over the past year and a half or so with the Anniversary Edition releases for the first two, I’ve bought those for the bonus (physical) content.

I also lump the Predator franchise in here…I find that via the Aliens vs. Predator and AvP stuff, the two are solidly linked, and the Predator stuff just works well partnered with the Aliens stuff.

aliens_day_2017_b

I believe I have the entire run of ’90s novels, each adapting one of Dark Horse Comics‘ mini-series. About 12 years ago, there were several more books released directly from the publisher under a now-defunct imprint. And of course, there were the movie novelizations. More recently, Titan Books has been putting out new stuff such as a trilogy of Alien novels set between the original Alien film and Aliens.

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Titan also put out a newer trilogy "crossing" franchises–Predator, Alien, and Alien vs. Predator, set in a further future, and set the stage for what could be some very interesting universe-building should further novels be produced. There’s also a newer anthology of short stories, and a number of other books and products outside the Titan well.

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Of course, there are the comics–which I have in multiple formats. I’m loving the oversized hardcovers. There are the original collected volumes. We recently got a collection of Dark Horse‘s collaborations with DC on the Aliens stuff. The excellent Omnibus series encompassing Aliens, Aliens vs. Predator, and Predator itself.

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Then there are the toys/figurines/etc. Funko Pop figures, regular and oversized; Minimates, Neca, Funko Mystery Mini figures, and even a "cute" plush happy-looking face-hugger.

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In trying to get a bunch of the Alien creature from the Mystery Minis line, I wound up with far more Predators–the standard, the "wounded" variant, and the extra-rare translucent "invisible" variant. I eventually snagged the "full-size" standard Pop figure.


I’m also very much looking forward to the new movie due out in about three weeks, and to the concluding chapter of the mega-arc Life and Death that’s due out this week.

I’ve seen a number of other toys/figures I’d like, but they tend to be very much on the far-too-expensive side for me, especially where life is right now.

I do imagine a re-watch marathon may be in the near-future for me, as well as having plenty of reading yet to go, having been back through or just through (in the case of the newer releases) some dozen or so of the novels in the last year-plus.

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