ALIENS: DEAD ORBIT #1
Written by James Stokoe
Art by James Stokoe
Published by Dark Horse
Release Date: April 29, 2017
Breathe in, breathe out. Okay, now scream! I’ve been doing this routine for the better part of four months now, waiting for this book to be released. Aliens: Dead Orbit #1 was my most anticipated book for 2017. Why? Well, just take a minute to check out some James Stokoe art. That’s why.
Aliens: Dead Orbit is a brand new series from Dark Horse, written and drawn by one of the most exciting artists in contemporary comic-booking: James Stokoe. If you’re not familiar with his works, you really should be. Seriously, go check out Godzilla: The Half-Century War and Orc Stain. You won’t be disappointed. Now, you take Stokoe’s hyper-detailed art, and you plant it firmly in one of the best horror/sci-fi franchises in the last half-century, and you have one of the best licensed books on the shelves today.
Engineer Wasclyweski is alone aboard a derelict space station, his fate hanging in the air as he does his best to survive the dangers of his spacecraft, floating in open space. Once introduced to the character, the story backtracks to trace the steps of his former crew as they come face to face with the kind of bug you need more than a can of OFF! to deal with: a xenomorph.
If you’re an Alien/Aliens fan, you won’t want to miss this book. This first issue captures the horror ethos of the first movie: the dread, the solitude, the unknowing, all while introducing you to a foul-mouthed action-oriented crew, much like the space marines in Aliens. Needless to say, this book dips into the best of both worlds, delivering the perfect concoction of spooky space action. With this blend, I wanted to read quickly, deeply engrossed in the forward momentum and suspense of the story. The characters were not particularly compelling, but I could see myself caring much more after another issue, as long as we get to learn a little more about them. Their personalities, at the very least, are entertaining and feel ripped from the Aliens world.
While I wanted to be turning pages at breakneck speed, I found myself lost in the art that Stokoe presents. Stokoe’s style is gorgeous, in the same ranks as Moebius, Geoff Darrow, and other extremely detailed artists. I shudder to think at the amount of time spent on each panel and page, as Stokoe makes a concerted effort to draw every line oh-so-perfectly; and let me tell you, the page is full of lines. Overall, the effect is mesmerizing, capturing your attention in every corner of the page. The environments are exquisite, the detail making you feel as though you could walk in each scene.
Everything about Stokoe’s style blends together beautifully in this book. His careful and elaborate linework works wonders with his coloring. Stokoe opts for bright palettes, sometimes using unconventional tones to still somehow create a natural look on each of his pages. Especially fond of blues and cold colors, he utilizes reds to bring the energy up when needed. The pages are ripe with color, but not overwhelmingly so, as the lineart breathes freely against the hues. His lettering is also organic, electing a hand-lettered style that makes the book feel even more personal. His sound effects, also hand-drawn do well to make the panels feel intimate and uncluttered.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with this offering of Aliens lore from a comic great like James Stokoe. This book is satisfies my Aliens needs while also delivering a suspenseful and intriguing sci-fi-horror story. As a huge fan of the Aliens franchise, and as someone who shouts Stokoe’s name in the comic store when recommending new books for people to try, I couldn’t be happier with the start of this mini-series.
The Verdict: 10/10