When Marvel’s parent company, Disney, acquired rival multimedia behemoth 20th Century Fox a few years back, Dark Horse Comics lost their decades-long licensing agreement covering Fox franchise, Alien/Aliens.

Naturally, Marvel’s own Alien series didn’t take long to materialise once they had the license for themselves – and their first issue of a newly launched Alien series appeared in 2021.

Though competently written, it did feel somewhat unadventurous and formulaic, aside from a very small number of new additions to Alien lore.

That first series only lasted for two story arcs (and a few special issues) before being relaunched, with series writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson also scripting the rebooted comic series.

Alas, even the relaunch only lasted for a single story arc across six issues; again, a few innovations aside – including being told from the point of view of a team of renegade androids – it wasn’t a particularly engaging story, though its artwork was a definite improvement over the stiff, photo referenced style in the original series.

So here we are with (already!) the third iteration of Marvel’s Alien series, with an all new creative team – and launching, not coincidentally I’m sure, on Alien Day.

This first issue sets up an interesting situation, with a corporation sending small teams of explorers across the galaxy, to find reliable sources of precious water – which has become a much sought after commodity. A small family on an ice moon – a husband and wife team, as well as their teenage daughter – are the team in question. Seemingly ignored and stranded by the company they’re contracted by, a much bigger fish takes notice when they find an intriguingly mysterious, frozen alien life form…

This new issue is a breath of fresh air in comparison to the previous Alien series. The art is bold and pretty stylised in comparison to what came before – and the writing feels very character-led too.

There’s some fantastic touches here; I got a huge kick out of the very familiar looking uniforms of the personnel who arrive as part of the heavy handed response to the find of the alien lifeform, for one thing.

It’s a great family drama, with some genuine conflict and tension, particularly when the outsiders arrive.

Though the issue doesn’t get off on the right foot – with some unnecessary and slightly sketchy depictions of xenomorphs that don’t feel necessary, it soon warms up and becomes quite the riveting read.

The opening recap skips the most recent comics; though there’s a reference to them in the events of this issue, it’s unlikely that you’re going to need to have read all of the Marvel Alien comics thus far.

This is a definite return to form for Alien comics, then – and it’s well timed for release on Alien Day too.

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