Alien #3 Review

by Nick Devonald on May 26, 2021

Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colours: Guru-eFX
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles

The first two issues took their time to introduce us to Gabe and his son Danny, set the scene, before unleashing all hell. The second issue concluded with the shit well and truly hitting the fan, and by the time this third issue kicks off it feels like we’re in familiar Aliens territory. Only this time we don’t have a couple of squads of Marines ready to combat the threat. This time we have one over the hill veteran, a green around the gills rookie, and a scared intern they’ve run into on the station. That is a good premise on its own, but Phillip Kennedy Johnson decides rather than keeping things simple nobody is quite who they first appear to be, and each have different motivations for being onboard that station.

This feels like the Aliens sequel that we never got. The Xenomorph is deadly once more, the humans are seriously outnumbered and outgunned, and all the pieces are there for this entry to stand out from the crowd. Alien fans will be delighted with the vibe this comic manages to capture, it invokes the feel of watching the Alien film series for the first time. Cruz is a veteran to dealing with these Xenomorphs as well, which means rather than spending time getting the characters up to speed with what the reader already knows he’s already at the same page.

The modern story is entertaining enough but we continue to get flashbacks to the earlier mission is Cruz’s life with the implication these earlier events will have a strong bearing to modern events, his relationship with the Xenomorph being the least of these. It remains to be seen how it’ll all tie in but there’s plenty of intrigue to keep readers coming back. There are also references to something else, some kind of humanoid queen that hasn’t featured in the movies before. There have been attempts at human alien hybrids before, Alien Resurrection springs immediately to mind, but the results in terms of story are typically disastrous. The Xenomorph works so well because it’s so alien and inhuman, it would be a mistake to either humanise it, or to suggest a more recognisable intelligence than the bug like, hive minds previously encountered. But that’s all hypothetical, so far nothing other than a female presence has been concretely confirmed.

Johnson knows how to build the tension in a scene, there’s a particularly tense stand off in one scene, all the while a Xenomorph is on the peripheral. Each panel, each interaction, allows the tension to build. There is a fine line to be trod between capturing the horror of the first film and the action of the second. The Xenomorph should always be terrifying, but far too often comics end up with them feeling more like cannon fodder than an unstoppable foe. Johnson manages to make them terrifying even while capturing the action vibes of the sequel.

Salvador Larroca does a fantastic job with the Xenomorph, each panel they feature in positively oozes horror. Larroca works well with Johnson, an excellent creative partnership where the art builds off the script and vice versa to really amp up the tension and the horror. He never shies away from the blood and gore either, reminding readers why this comes with a parental advisory, and captures the look and feel of an Alien story. Beyond that he also captures the characters expressions perfectly, which plays a big part in the comic.

This is the Aliens sequel viewers never got, rather than leaning into the action heavy aspects of some of the franchise entries Johnson goes to great lengths to make sure that the Xenomorph has never been more terrifying, and there’s plenty of intrigue and mystery to keep readers coming back for more.

Our Score:


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