ADVANCE REVIEW: Aliens: Defiance #1

Note: Aliens: Defiance #1 is on sale April 27th from your local store and online with the Final Order Cutoff on Monday April 4th, so go ask your LCS to order it as it is unmissable!

Written by: Brain Wood

Art by: Tristan Jones

Publisher: Dark Horse

The good news is that I got to read Aliens: Defiance #1 super early because it’s an advanced review copy. I am happy because good comics make me happy. The bad news is that, since it’s an advanced copy, I have to be very careful about spoilers. Expect this review to be kind of vague so I don’t step on any toes.

Also, the e-mail I got told me to include the preorder number, FEB160010, so there that is. I swear I’m not a sellout guys. Honest.

Our hero and badass space marine is Zara Hendricks, though as of issue one, she’s neither heroic nor badass. It turns out she suffered some very serious injuries off screen and this little salvage trip is her getting back into the swing of being a space marine. Oorah…The mission itself is rather demeaning: She’s escorting a host of Weyland-Yutani combat androids to an empty ship and letting them in because WT needs a military security clearance.

Yadda yadda yadda, Xenomorphs!

I imagine that all sounds pretty standard as far as Aliens goes. We’ve had how many of these comics now? WT are being WT and Xenomorphs are being Xenomorphs. The heroine is stuck in the middle.

Except that turns out to not be the case here. Halfway through the comic I was going, “Yup, I like this but it’s nothing all that new” and then by the end I was going, “Holy crap I did not expect them to do that at all! Awesome!”

Aliens: Defiance exists to play with your expectations.

Zara herself is almost her own twist. Aliens deconstructed the badass space marine pretty well, and Zara is sort of following suit, though it’s less about her falling apart under pressure and more about her being too injured to do much of anything. I don’t know what happened to her in the past—and honestly, what information is delivered is clunky—but it’s clear she’s going into a bad situation at a very, very big disadvantage.

She’s also the only human amongst a small platoon of combat synthetics, which is a terrifying word pairing if you know anything about the Alien universe.

Tristan Jones’ artwork tops the whole package off by being pretty damn great. He’s got a brilliant sense of color, turning a series that’s normally dark and gritty into something quite pretty while also still being spooky when it needs to be. The Xenomorphs are as scary as always, but the yellow explosions and red siren lights are colored in such a way that really makes them pop.

The combat synthetics are also super creepy to look at. There’s something wrong with their eyes.

Aliens: Defiance #1 is a damn good start to what I’m hoping will be a damn good series. I trust Dark Horse with the Alien property though, because even with a few misses in their Fire and Stone series last year, they still managed to publish something worthwhile. They have a good track record.

Here’s to hoping they top themselves in 2016. If this is a taste of what we’re going to get, then I think they will.