Aliens: Defiance #1
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Tristan Jones
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Cover: Mark A. Nelson
What better way to kick off Alien Day than a look at the brand new series, Aliens: Defiance! Brian Wood and Tristan Jones return us to space during a time set roughly between the first two Alien films. A ship has gone silent and Colonial Marine, Private First Class Zula Hendricks, is on her way to make sure things go smoothly since Weyland-Yutani has claimed salvage rights. She’s not alone though, accompanied by a squad of combat synths and they’re all about to find out why the ship went silent and how dangerous the acid blooded Aliens are.
The Aliens franchise has a great tradition of putting capable and strong female characters at the forefront and Wood continues that here. He introduces us to Zula at a point where she’s recovering from some serious physical damage. She’s going through a quite painful physical therapy regiment but pushing through and Wood is showing us how determined and stubborn she is. It’s very solid character building and the pace at which it’s established is excellent. There’s also a nice dynamic between her and the synth, Davis, that plays with the role reversal a bit. The subtitle of ‘Defiance’ quickly comes into play here with Wood setting up a story that reads more in the vein of Alien than Aliens. Though the tense, quite moments that make the horror element so viable is there he also balances it out with some action scenes to move some things along. Plus it wouldn’t be a proper Alien book if we didn’t get to see those sharp, menacing pearly whites right before a kill!
Tristan Jones keeps everything looking great here and hits the emotional beats perfectly. Aside from Wood’s pacing making this seem more sci-fi survival horror it’s the work from Jones. From the brief but tense moments where xenomorphs are ripping through synths to the crew walking down those dark, silent hallways, he expertly creates the visual environment that keeps you immersed in the story. Colors from Dan Jackson come into play here by putting the exclamation point on these pages. The sequence where Zula is attempting to retreat and falls is a great moment of panels as the emergency lights shed a cascading red over her which also breaks up the darker color pallet used. The look on Zula’s face as she falls though is sheer terror but a nice mix of the fear of re-injury and with the Alien attack.
By the time you get to the last page you’ll be ready to start the new mission with Zula and Davis which is going to be one hell of a task. Wood captures what makes the Alien franchise great while injecting something new for longtime fans to enjoy and gives new readers something to happily dive into. Jones and Jackson keep that momentum going with strong visuals and that creepy sci-fi horror mood the series is known for. So you might need to go and add this one to your pull list and make sure you’re along for the ride!