(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the Dark Horse website: “During a vicious xenomorph outbreak, terraforming engineer Derrick Russell leads a desperate group of survivors onto a rickety mining vessel. They hope to escape the creatures overrunning their colony—but they’ll face horrors both in space and on the strange planet they crash on.”
As for ALIENS: FIRE AND STONE, the first issue serves to set up the particulars for the tale that’s only beginning. Colonists – always in danger of a Xenomorph infestation – find themselves in dire straits right out of the gate in #1 which happens to take place on LV-426. (For the uninitiated, LV-426 was the planet explored in the ALIEN sequel, ALIENS, directed by James Cameron.) These people are on-the-run, and they’re left with no other choice than to abandon that world, seeking out a place for safety and survival. Little do they know that their craft already has some baggage they’ll be none too happy to unload wherever they set down next!
The tale is written by Chris Roberson, and – along with Patric Reynolds’ dark, bloody, and necessarily grim artwork – it feels a part of the broader ALIEN mythology right out of the gate. The pacing is quick, and the stakes are set clearly with each advancing page: LV-426 is doomed, and these folks will take their chances anywhere else but here. It’s tight, exciting, and effective from start-to-finish, ending with a panel that harkens back to that memory in my imagination: a lone but energized monster howling like a wolf at the sky.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If the action and the set-up in the opening pages of ALIENS: FIRE AND STONE (1 OF 4) seem a bit familiar, then take heart: LV-426 is better known as Hadley’s Hope, the terraforming colony featured prominently in the 1986 blockbuster sci-fi motion picture, ALIENS. The tale opens with plenty of action (just how we like ‘em!), and it closes with the promise of circumstances only growing more and more dire for the surviving colonists who manage to escape but unfortunately happen to have the worst stowaways possible in league with them. Who knows where it’s heading? We’ll all know more in 30 days.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with a digital reading copy of ALIENS: FIRE AND STONE (1 OF 4) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.