Aliens: Defiance #2
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Tristan Jones
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Cover: Massimo Carnevale
This issue gives us a much deeper look at who Zula Hendricks is while moving the story along with some classic sci-fi horror beats. Wood gives us flashes into Zula’s past via a nightmare but the meat of the character is in her interactions with the Davis synths. She’s concerned with not only finishing the mission but how she’s viewed as a capable crew member by the synths. Which shows how deeply rooted her issues are when you consider she’s keeping up appearances for artificial people. There’s a also a brief moment that touches on Zula’s challenges from being a young Black woman in the Colonial Marines to the shift in treatment from her peers after her injury. Though when the action starts we see her training kick in and that her mental toughness is just as strong if not stronger than her physical capabilities. These are the areas where it was great to see Wood have the main character make some smart tactical decisions when it came to prioritizing mission parameters. We’ve all seen too many titles where the seasoned military personel make rookie mistakes and it’s nice to see that Zula is treated better than that here.
A huge part of what makes this story a perfect part of the Alien mythos is that Tristan Jones and Dan Jackson are giving you panel after panel of sequential storytelling goodness. After the opening we get a cinematic credits sequence which is a quiet, moody scene and sets the tone for the rest of the story. Jones even makes the Davis synths look creepy with their emotionless faces and lack of pupils even though they’re working with Zula. There’s that air of distrust that hangs there about them because of this visual design which helps give the story an uneasy feeling. When the xenomorphs appear he nails their classic intimidating look with Jackson adding some weight to the scenes. One in particular is when Zula is trying to shoot her way out of a situation. There’s a nice splash of color to emphasize the gunfire as it damages the xenomorph’s chest which causes it some pain and just makes it angrier.
Aliens: Defiance has the right amount of heavy tension and mood along with a character worth rooting for in Zula. The creative team wastes no time putting you back into the story and it’s one you’ll want to see to the end. Actually Wood and Jones find the balance that several fans argue over when it comes to the Alien franchise straying from it’s sci-fi horror roots. So get your copy and head back to the place where no one can hear you scream!