Friday, April 27, 2018

Review - Aliens: Dust to Dust #1 (@DarkHorseComics)


"What was that?"

Aliens are something of an inevitability. What's still uncertain is when we encounter them if they're friendly or hostile. In Aliens: Dust to Dust #1 from Dark Horse Comics, the Xenomorphs certainly aren't looking for Reece's Pieces. The issue is written and illustrated by Gabriel Hardman, colored by Rain Beredo and lettered by Michael Heisler.

The Trono colony on LV-871 is under attack. Emergency evacuations are ordered. Evac shuttles are taking off. All twelve-year-old Maxon and his mom have to do is make it to the spaceport. Except between them and it are...Aliens!

Entries in the Alien franchise don't really tread new ground from a storytelling perspective, but Hardman still manages to keep the reader hooked throughout the issue. Most of that has to do with how pervasive knowledge about the Alien franchise is, in that readers move through the issue expecting the other shoe to drop and for things to go off the rails. There's just this underlying sense of dread as Maxon and his mother race to the evacuation site; some of which is around whether or not they'll make it while some of it is around Maxon's mother's condition. Hardman also manages to do a lot with so few lines of dialogue, letting the reader know about the threat posed by the Xenomorphs as they ravage the Trono colony. Hardman's script in Aliens: Dust to Dust #1 opens with a seemingly foreboding event before getting right into the thick of an attack by Xenomorphs which immediately sets the tone of the book (and series).

Hardman doubles down on the art in the book as well, using an extremely coarse and scratchy style to show all the events happening. Hardman knows that part of what makes the whole "things that go bump in the night" dynamic work so well is not seeing the entirety of the "thing" which is why Hardman does a lot with shadows and blackened sections of panels. The human characters are illustrated with very expressive faces that are pretty adept at showing terror and panic. Hardman excels with the final full-page shot though which is a truly terrifying look at the effect Xenomorphs have on humans; it's certainly nothing new, but Hardman truly captures the visceral nature of the event. Beredo's colors lean blue and gray throughout the issue and reinforce the dour circumstances throughout the issue.

Aliens: Dust to Dust #1 doesn't do anything new with the franchise, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Maxon and his mother are desperately trying to escape the quickly deteriorating Trono colony, but the Xenomorphs prove they have other plans in mind. Hardman's script is paced flawlessly, moving quickly from one disaster to the next with a sense of doom hanging over the entirety of the issue. Hardman's illustrations are extraordinarily gritty and gory without being gratuitous. Aliens: Dust to Dust #1 is a solid start to another look at the characters in the Alien universe.

Aliens: Dust to Dust #1 is available now.

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