Comic Picks By The Glick

Aliens: Dead Orbit

April 21, 2018

Longtime readers should know that I’m a big fan of James Stokoe’s work.  So when Dark Horse announced that he’d be working on an “Aliens” miniseries for them, I was really excited.  After all, Stokoe had shown that he can do excellent work when it comes to licensed material in his “Godzilla:  The Half-Century War.” “Dead Orbit” isn’t in the same league as it attempts to use raw style to compensate for the fact that it’s telling a very familiar story.  How familiar? As we find out through flashbacks, the six-person crew of the Weyland-Yutani space station Sphacteria were minding their own business one day when an unmarked spacecraft came into range.  The ship didn’t respond to their hails, the crew went over to investigate and found three people in cryosleep. An accident during their revival leaves these people partially cooked and unable to talk about where they came from or what kind of thing managed to burn through the ship’s bulkhead.


If you’ve got any familiarity with the “Alien” franchise, you can probably guess where things go from here.  Stokoe tries to add a layer of mystery to the proceedings by flashing back between the past and the present, occupied by the engineer Wascylewski and two Aliens.  It works to a certain extent, but also leads to some odd gaps in the narrative. At least the series has Stokoe’s phenomenal art to fall back on. He’s always been a stickler for detail and the gritty, run-down future aesthetic of the Sphacteria offers him plenty of chances to show off.  While it’s easy to be impressed by the intricacy of his art, Stokoe also manages to deliver suspense and thrills in the anticipation of and actual Alien attacks. There’s also a selection of art, including Stokoe’s original “Aliens” pitch, with commentary to round out the volume and show you that the creator’s black-and-white art is pretty damn impressive too.  So while “Dead Orbit” certainly has style going for it, the quality of the story still leaves it as something best appreciated by existing fans of Stokoe or the “Aliens” franchise.

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