What happens when you don’t have the resources to fight the good fight anymore? PFC Zula Hendricks, the android Davis, and their new ally Dr. Hollis are committed to making sure that Weyland-Yutani aren’t able to get their hands on a viable xenomorph sample. They’ve destroyed lots of company property and killed other Colonial Marines on their mission, but it feels like they’ve reached the end of the line here. Their ship, the Europa, is falling apart at the seams, Zula’s spinal condition is worsening by the day, Davis is falling into disrepair, and Dr. Hollis is expecting… a xenomorph queen. The three of them will have to figure out how to extract that unwanted thing without killing the doctor, and then what to do with it afterwards. Do they kill it and remain true to their mission? Or keep it alive in order to barter for safe passage back to Earth, compromising everything they’ve done up to this point now that their fight is unwinnable?
Much like the first volume, the strength of this series lies in its characterization rather than the plotting. There’s some suspense to be had regarding what Hendricks, Davis, and Hollis are going to do about the queen and a potential return to Earth, but most of the story here still manages to play out as you’d expect. What will keep you reading is the internal drama writer Brian Wood generates with Zula as she wrestles with her physical condition and the progressively harder choices she’s forced to make as the volume goes on. Davis’ subplot about gaining more human desires works so long as you’re willing to accept the fact that the story doesn’t offer an explanation as to how he was able to re-program himself in the first place. As for Dr. Hollis, she gets a gruesomely thrilling scene early on that recalls the best part of “Prometheus.”
This second volume of “Defiance” features three different artists: Stephen Thompson, Tony Brescini, and Eduardo Francisco. The former two offer up crisp and straightforward sci-fi settings and action, while the latter has a smoothness to his style that is still appealing even if it lacks for consistency. It all wraps up well enough without completely shutting the door on a follow-up at some point. This series may not be good enough for me to recommend it to all comics readers, but “Aliens” fans or people who have liked Wood’s work on licensed titles at Dark Horse will find this to be a satisfying read.