Before we even properly begin, we have to address the cover of Alien Annual #1. Just look at it, take it all in. Is it me, or is this one of the most awful covers in recent memory? It’s atrocious! From obvious photo-referencing and weird positioning to overdone and poorly applied digital effects, even the strange location of the title – which leaves some awkwardly empty space at the top – this comic book cover is a near-Liefeldian exercise in awfulness.

The story brings us back to Gabriel Cruz, whose prior experience with the Xenomorphs makes him the perfect Colonial Marine squad leader to take on a mission that looks to deal with a terrorist incursion in a typically brutal way. The insidious company, Weyland-Yutani, need a compliant staff member to assist them with the more unethical part of the mission – and secretly upload an older model synth’s personality into a combat android’s body. Yet this being the Alien universe, things don’t go as planned…

The story starts out fine, with an intriguing set-up involving the terrorist attack. However, the paper thin group of boring marines (Cruz included – he once again makes a terribly full protagonist) and the mission to take on the terrorists using a freshly hatched Xenomorph holds few surprises. It’ll come as absolutely no surprise which android’s personality is uploaded to the combat synth and this just makes the story feel like awkward fan fiction, with the sort of corny callbacks to famous lines of dialogue that’ll make your eyes roll in the back of your head.

The plan goes so wrong, in fact, that there comes a point where the android’s actions and the company’s plans make absolutely no sense whatsoever. It’s really bizarre.

There are panels of art that are truly dire – yep, worse than the cover – and others where you’re barely able to tell what’s going on, but towards the end there are some lovely, big panels of the Xenomorph; the creature is always something that artist Salvador Larroca tends to get right, as much as I complain about his style and tendency to use obvious photo-referencing.

So another one to miss then; on the plus side, at least this is a done in one story – it’s over mercifully quickly.

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