The first story arc in Marvel’s new Alien series was a bit of a mixed bag; it was full of well-trodden Alien tropes, references and even the basic ‘Weyland-Yutani fails Xenomorph weaponisation’ backdrop, yet there were a few interesting new elements. An Alpha Xenomorph, for one, giving us a new, previously unseen alien – but also a look at the anti-corporate sentiment amongst the general population, which is something rarely seen in Alien fiction.
The second story arc, which begins in this very issue, seems to – thankfully – be moving away from the more familiar Colonial Marines vs Aliens setting that the first tale adhered to. You wouldn’t necessarily know that from the opening few pages though.
Two years after the events of the first six issues, the opening sequence in issue seven takes readers onto a ship where the crew are mostly in hypersleep, with the computer waking up a crew member to deal with two unspecified ‘incidents’ – which has a very familiar outcome. We’re soon planetside, however, on the terraformed moon of Euridice – and introduced to a human colony; the ‘Spinners’. The Spinners are seemingly separatists who have rejected technology for a simpler way of life – but it seems that the universe has other plans for them…
It’s a superb issue. Much stronger than any of the previous story arc, which relied far too much on story elements that we’d seen before. The planetside setting allows for a great deal more colour than we’re used to in the Alien saga overall too, with a great look at the flora and fauna around the colony. The Spinners themselves are an interesting creation and there’s a good few who have tantalising histories mentioned here, with Jane being the strongest character and no doubt the protagonist of this story.
It’s hard not to notice the parallels with anti-vaxxers in the ideology of the ultra-religious Spinners, but it doesn’t yet seem that the story is going to delve too much into that sort of political commentary, not that it’d be unwelcome.
The similarities to Vincent Ward’s famous – and famously unfilmed – script for Alien 3 are also very apparent, right from the cover shot of an Alien in a cornfield. The cornfield attack is one of the most memorable sequences in Ward’s draft, which also concerned itself with an ultra-orthodox religious colony on a remote planet. Commenting on this in a tweet (following a question from someone you may recognise), writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson said: “It doesn’t refer to specific beats in that script yet, but I love the idea of old-world faith trying to make sense of the xenos, and seeing them in the context of a rustic, low-tech kind of culture. There were some very cool elements of that story that I still want to see.”
This leads me to think that we’re going to see a far more interesting story this time around – and it’s certainly off to a great start. The way that low-technological cultures deal with Xenomorph threats always poses interesting questions and leads to a very different dynamic than we’re used to seeing in the wake of 1986 sequel Aliens (see also Aliens: Phalanx). With an intriguingly sketched cast and status quo that’s upset by the end of the issue, I can’t wait to see where we go next.
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