Published by Dark Horse Comics
Plot Summary: Taking place in the year 2295CE, on the Weyland-Yutani fuel depot/way station Sphacteria, we follow Engineer Wascylewski and the rest of the crew as they are slowly picked off one by one by the Xenomorph threat.
Undoubtedly one of the best comics of 2017 was James Stokoe’s Aliens Dead Orbit four-issue series. What this comic does is strip back all the unnecessary and convoluted lore that Ridley Scott has been trying to introduce in Prometheus and more recently Alien: Covenant. By taking all this away Stokoe has managed to create a short and condensed story that acts as a pastiche to the original Alien film.
Stokoe’s art style uniquely manages to capture the feeling of claustrophobia and suspense that slowly builds up this feeling of dread. The narrative of each of the issues is unveiled in Medias Res (starting in the middle of things) and although we, as an audience, can guess what is going to happen to the crew, of six, on board a space station – soon to be housing a Xenomorph. So the story unfolds with each member being slowly picked off until we are left with Wascylewski as he comes to Ripley’s conclusion that the only way is to run. Although his plan includes taking both of the Xenomorphs out it seems that escape is his foremost concern. We learn, just as we did in Alien, the escape doesn’t go well. It unfolded with a limited amount of oxygen left and the uncertainty of any potential rescue.
Now there is a reason that this plot works so well. I put it down to the fact that the world never feels empty. Even space, as imagined by Stokoe, is a cluttered horrific mess. It is totally understandable to see why this comic was delayed, even if we were not happy about it when we see the level of detail that has gone into each and every panel – it is outstanding. If we were to “judge this book by its cover “, we would not be disappointed, in fact, the opposite, as every single panel within the book has had as much care and attention as has the cover.
Stokoe does well playing on emotions and the paranoia that comes when dealing with the horror genre. For example, the use of shadows where Wascylewski mistakes piping for a Xenomorph plays upon the primal fear we all feel when we think we have seen something in the shadows or hear a noise at night. This comic has a sense of realism and because of this, you dread what is to come for each of the characters.
2017 was a great year for comics and Aliens Dead Orbit has certainly stood its ground and some amongst so many other great comics.