Marvel’s debut story in its recently launched, ongoing Alien series – the comic book behemoth’s first foray into the Alien universe, following Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox – reaches its climax with the sixth issue.

Having made the decision to save his son, Danny, rather than the rapidly growing xenomorph that’s gestating inside him, Gabe Cruz and his team hit an unforeseen snag when they’re double crossed by Danny’s girlfriend Iris. Can Gabe and Bishop survive their encounter with the treacherous Iris and save Danny before it’s too late?

Issue six wraps up the first Marvel Alien story in an unsurprisingly open-ended manner, with a well written, tense issue that doesn’t skimp on the action or corporate scumminess that have become the hallmarks of the franchise. It take some pretty ballsy turns with the characters and definitely ends the tale on a high note, following a slightly inconsistent level of quality over the series so far. Partially, this has been due to the fact that the story didn’t quite warrant a six issue run; the middle act in particular just felt drawn out and too full of the franchise’s tropes, whereas the start and end of the run was pretty impressive and not afraid to do its own thing.

The major issue affecting the comic has, unfortunately, been Salvador Larroca’s art. Though, like the story, it started off strongly, it rapidly started to feel far too stiff and photo referenced, with some shockingly poor panels by the sixth issue. In fact, in this very issue there’s some seriously embarrassing panels where our main protagonist, Gabe Cruz, is rendered so inconsistently that it’s laughable. The Xenomorph variants are well done, however, though the little-glimpsed Alpha still looks a bit too much like Sil from the Species franchise (like the original Xenomorph, Sil was an HR Giger creation – so perhaps given the chance, Giger himself may well have come up with a similar design for the Alpha). It’s not just Gabe that comes off poorly in Larocca’s illustrations; any human character without adequate photo reference material seems really off in many of this issues panels.

Despite these issues, I’ve enjoyed the series overall and the ending does a great job of giving readers a reason to return for the next chapter in the saga. The next issue’s cover – and description – seems to be taking inspiration from the unmade Vincent Ward draft of Alien 3 too, which is incredibly intriguing and has always been a sadly missed opportunity for the franchise to go into much more imaginative territory. Let’s hope that we really are moving away from the familiar Weyland-Yutani corporate mischief and Colonial Marine setting that’s been relied on far too much over the past 35 years and head into some of the less explored corners of the universe.

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