Dark Horse Comics, Mark Verheiden and Mark A. Nelson delivered one of the greatest Aliens stories ever crafted. The story, unlike so many recent Alien tales we see, serves as an immediate follow-up to James Cameron’s stellar action piece, Aliens, but this time around – in print – the names have been changed… probably to protect the innocent.
Within this tale Hicks is no longer Hicks, he’s Wilks, and Newt is no longer Newt, she’s Billie, and it becomes Wilks’ primary mission to get Billie as far away from this murderous alien race as possible. Somehow he does just that, but given his experience in dealing with the Xenomorphs, he’s called back to action, despite the obvious post-traumatic stress disorder that now plagues his life. And for the record, Billie isn’t doing too well, either.
A new team is formed, and before we know it, Wilks is leading a team to exterminate more alien beasties. He sneaks Billie onboard, as she’s the only other one who has managed to survive an encounter with the perfect killing machine. But when Wilks and his crew finally make their destination, they learn that this isn’t quite the extermination mission it was believed to be.
Aliens: Outbreak is one of the earliest Aliens books to hit stands in the wake of Cameron’s masterful film. And where Verheiden succeeds is in his faithfulness to the source and the believability he blesses the story’s focal protagonists with. Wilks is enraged after watching his crew slaughtered; he wants revenge. Billie is another top-notch addition to the story, as she’s extraordinarily layered.
While the story is essentially about nearly unbeatable monsters, Verheiden makes sure to bring a very human element to the story. The book features love, loss and desperation. And as much as we do focus on the Xenomorphs, it’s impossible to avoid the magnetism projected by Wilks and Billie, who both play extremely different roles in the story, though they’re both vulnerable for very different reasons.
Mark A. Nelson’s artwork is terrific. He’s very adept at illustrating the aliens, but he nails the look of the humans and the ship as well. He’s a crucial piece to this puzzle, and I’m ecstatic that he was the man that got the call to help bring this story to life on page. Respect to an amazing artist.
If you’re an Alien fan, this is a book that you’ve got to get your hands on immediately. It feels very, very much like an Alien 3, and interestingly enough, this story is quite a bit more enjoyable – and plausible – than David Fincher’s Alien 3 (which, for the record, I enjoyed quite a bit). It’s too bad that Twentieth Century Fox ran with the prison concept rather than this story. Ripley could have easily fit in the narrative, and we wouldn’t have been cheated by Hicks’ and Newt’s offscreen (cheap and insulting) deaths.
Oh well, that ship has sailed. Fortunately, Dark Horse was determined to make things right for fans. For that, I cannot applaud the publisher enough.
You can order this amazing book right here.