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Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series

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In 1986, James Cameron's Aliens brought to theaters the horrors of a new kind of war against a terrifying enemy. Two years later, Dark Horse Comics released a direct follow-up to the events in the film. Years before any talk of a film sequel, the comics series took fandom by storm, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Though the story was subsequently In 1986, James Cameron's Aliens brought to theaters the horrors of a new kind of war against a terrifying enemy. Two years later, Dark Horse Comics released a direct follow-up to the events in the film. Years before any talk of a film sequel, the comics series took fandom by storm, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Though the story was subsequently rendered noncanonical by the film Alien 3, the stunningly detailed art by Mark A. Nelson and the seminal script by Mark Verheiden (who went on to write The Mask, Timecop, Battlestar Galactica, Daredevil, and many other films and television shows) continued to grip readers' imaginations for years afterward. For the thirtieth anniversary of Aliens, Dark Horse is releasing an oversized hardcover edition of the unabridged and unadulterated series, in its original stark black and white!


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In 1986, James Cameron's Aliens brought to theaters the horrors of a new kind of war against a terrifying enemy. Two years later, Dark Horse Comics released a direct follow-up to the events in the film. Years before any talk of a film sequel, the comics series took fandom by storm, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Though the story was subsequently In 1986, James Cameron's Aliens brought to theaters the horrors of a new kind of war against a terrifying enemy. Two years later, Dark Horse Comics released a direct follow-up to the events in the film. Years before any talk of a film sequel, the comics series took fandom by storm, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Though the story was subsequently rendered noncanonical by the film Alien 3, the stunningly detailed art by Mark A. Nelson and the seminal script by Mark Verheiden (who went on to write The Mask, Timecop, Battlestar Galactica, Daredevil, and many other films and television shows) continued to grip readers' imaginations for years afterward. For the thirtieth anniversary of Aliens, Dark Horse is releasing an oversized hardcover edition of the unabridged and unadulterated series, in its original stark black and white!

30 review for Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sr3yas

    Imagine a species where the first conscious act of life is killing. *gulps* This dark and gritty story was originally published as a sequel to James Cameron's Aliens (1986), picking the story up ten years after the latest disaster on LV-426. Our young survivor Newt is in a mental asylum and Hicks is an outcast marine because of the scars he got from the aliens. The other marines are so scared of him and his "alien cooties" and stay away from him. And Ripley..... well, no one wants to talk about Ripley because the writer wa Imagine a species where the first conscious act of life is killing. *gulps* This dark and gritty story was originally published as a sequel to James Cameron's Aliens (1986), picking the story up ten years after the latest disaster on LV-426. Our young survivor Newt is in a mental asylum and Hicks is an outcast marine because of the scars he got from the aliens. The other marines are so scared of him and his "alien cooties" and stay away from him. And Ripley..... well, no one wants to talk about Ripley because the writer was not given permission to use her character. Seriously, the artist was not even allowed to use her face in flashback scenes! Thankfully, this little hiccup didn't dampen the story presented here! Compared to Alien movies, the story here is very complex and layered. It explores Xenomorph's history and biology, other alien life forms and features evil corporations, psychopath killers, overzealous scientists who love Xenomorphs and crazy fanatics who worship Xenomorphs as gods. Xenomorphs as gods? Seriously, what was the writer trying pull? People are not that stu... Well, never mind. And Xenomorphs on Earth for the first time! How cool is that?! The pencils by Mark Nelson is dark, gripping and very fitting. The writing was wonderful at the beginning, but it got too complex and confused in the middle chapters. There were too many plot points and characters, running around all over the place. Nevertheless, the final chapters reign it all in and present an excellent conclusion! The philosophical take on humanity and the characterization of Hicks and Newt were spot on! Mark Verheiden did a great job developing those two characters. And then Alien 3 screwed it all up.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    I have mixed feelings about this book. Historically speaking, it's an important work. Yes, Dark Horse had plenty of early hits (Concrete, the Mask, etc.) but it was their licensed properties--Star Wars and Aliens and the rest--that were their bread and butter titles for a number of years. Without them, it's entirely possible that DH would have died out in the 90's like so many other indie publishers. Content-wise, it's ... not bad. The writing and art are very much characte I have mixed feelings about this book. Historically speaking, it's an important work. Yes, Dark Horse had plenty of early hits (Concrete, the Mask, etc.) but it was their licensed properties--Star Wars and Aliens and the rest--that were their bread and butter titles for a number of years. Without them, it's entirely possible that DH would have died out in the 90's like so many other indie publishers. Content-wise, it's ... not bad. The writing and art are very much characteristic of the time they were written. As with much near-future science fiction, many of the speculations are laughably wrong. I've read better, I've read worse. There's a throwaway bit in one panel, a theater poster, "Einsturzende Neubauten presents 1990s Hologram Show," with the names Laurie Anderson and David Byrne prominently featured. Being a fan of all three, I got a chuckle out of that. The original comics were published without traditional splash pages, so it's difficult to tell where one issue ends and the next begins. Every now and then a text box will tell you who Newt is again, and that's about the only clue, really. It can be a bit jarring. The packaging is incredible. The oversized pages allow for every detail of the art to be examined. The pages are edged in reflective black and printed on heavy stock. This is possibly the best possible presentation of this material. Needless to say, an e-reader won't give you the full experience. It's a deluxe book, but the story itself isn't really a deluxe story. Although it picks up where the movie Aliens left off, subsequent Alien movies have rendered the comics non-canon. Interesting as an important piece of Dark Horse's history, and of at least curiousity value to fans of the Alien franchise in general, but not something I'd automatically recommend to the casual reader.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Mansfield

    Absolutely outstanding! Originally written after the release of the movie Aliens this series continues the plot taking place some years after the movie's end concentrating on the characters Newt, Hicks and Bishop. This was considered part of Alien canon until the release of Alien 3, this now being the first time this original series has been reprinted. It's a fascinating story and an interesting look back now as an alternate history in the Alien saga. The black and white artwork is gorgeous and Absolutely outstanding! Originally written after the release of the movie Aliens this series continues the plot taking place some years after the movie's end concentrating on the characters Newt, Hicks and Bishop. This was considered part of Alien canon until the release of Alien 3, this now being the first time this original series has been reprinted. It's a fascinating story and an interesting look back now as an alternate history in the Alien saga. The black and white artwork is gorgeous and as described, in both the introduction and afterword, is done in a technique no longer used since the advent of digital illustration. Such exceptionally gorgeous art that made me enjoy looking at the book as much as reading it. A must have for Alien fandom. Contains issues #1-6 plus Dark Horse Presents #24.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ana Lelis

    I hardly ever watch horror movies, but I'm enjoying reading it. there are lots of information and confusing scenes but they're explained during the story, thus you don't get confused but, at the same time, you get surprised a lot. I'd like it was kinda longer than that, there are so much to be explored on that but overall I really liked it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    P.

    It's cool to see Hicks and Newt get a story, and see the stuff that had to have been an influence on Alien Resurrection (the queen and Brad Dourif's character) - it also veers into some weird Cronenbergian telepathic/video horror and the climax of the story was confusing to me but I also read it while I was sleepy. The explanation of the derelict ship is, to me, a lot more plausible than what they came up with in Prometheus, and adds to the depressing end, which felt fitting. The 30th anniversar It's cool to see Hicks and Newt get a story, and see the stuff that had to have been an influence on Alien Resurrection (the queen and Brad Dourif's character) - it also veers into some weird Cronenbergian telepathic/video horror and the climax of the story was confusing to me but I also read it while I was sleepy. The explanation of the derelict ship is, to me, a lot more plausible than what they came up with in Prometheus, and adds to the depressing end, which felt fitting. The 30th anniversary edition is very pretty - the edges of the pages are dyed/printed black.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    This book has good art, and some really decent ideas but it gets more and more unfocused as it goes on, multiple storythreads that resolve in rushed confused ways, and random scenes which seem to serve little purpose. There's a lot of good ideas here, and it was worth a read it was interesting to see a rather early expansion to the franchise, but it could have used with much tighter editing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    nooker

    Just as awesome as when I collected it originally. The preface and afterword were really cool and added to the history nicely.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marlowe

    Rendered non-canonical by Aliens3, Aliens takes up the story of Newt and Hicks, several years after their return to earth (due to legal issues, Ripley is inexplicably absent). Aliens, the movie, struck a chord for people because it wasn't just about the action - it was about the characters. When shit hit the fan, viewers cared because we had come to know and like the people it was happening to (except for Paul Reiser's Burke - he was terrible). And in the end, we loved the little family Ripley had madeviewers  Rendered non-canonical by Aliens3, Aliens takes up the story of Newt and Hicks, several years after their return to earth (due to legal issues, Ripley is inexplicably absent). Aliens, the movie, struck a chord for people because it wasn't just about the action - it was about the characters. When shit hit the fan, viewers cared because we had come to know and like the people it was happening to (except for Paul Reiser's Burke - he was terrible). And in the end, we loved the little family Ripley had made for herself. That's what Aliens3 got so very wrong. Ripley's whole arc, the whole process of building a new community while surrounded by the cold, machine-like xenomorphs, all got tossed out of the airlock when they killed Newt and Hicks in the opening credits. The movie failed on many other levels, too, of course, but destroying the bonds formed in Aliens right off the bat would have doomed it regardless. Aliens makes the same mistake. Newt and Hicks are alive, of course, but the opening finds Newt in a mental institution and Hicks back in the army, and they don't talk. They've come back to earth and gone their separate ways and that was that. There's some bit further in where Hicks decides to save Newt because he did it before so why not, but that's really about it. These are two traumatised people with experiences that are literally out of this world, and no one can possibly understand what they've been through except each other. Why wouldn't they have stuck close to each other? Apart from what they've done with existing characters, the story itself is fine. It hops around too much, and there's this whole weird bit where the xenomorphs suddenly have psychic powers for some reason. The bit about the religious cult forming around the aliens was interesting, but the story keeps jumping around too much and I never really got a grasp on who the preacher was or where he got his information from (except for the psychic communication stuff, which just came off as silly). As much as I loved getting to see Newt again (and her arc was a decent one once it actually got started), I think the comic would have been better served by narrowing its focus. It could have focused on the preacher, or focused on Newt, or focused on Hicks, and any one of those would have made for a much better story. But, instead, the strategy seemed to be to throw as much at the reader as possible and hope that something sticks. Which is another lesson the comic didn't learn from Alien and Aliens. Both of those are very simple stories - xenomorph appears, Ripley survives. There are vague bits and bobs about shadowy corporations, but all the other content comes from just spending time with the individual characters - getting to like them, getting a feel for their motivations. Whatever is happening off-location is not part of the story. The artwork is fine. I found that some of the key characters lack definition, so I had some trouble telling them apart. This wasn't helped by all the plot-jumping. It's in a realist style that isn't really my bag of cats, but it does the job. I did appreciate all the detail put into each panel, which gave it some of that crowded, dark, mechanical atmosphere that the movies do well.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Enid

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I can't believe I didn't read this graphic novel sooner (It was made in 1987!!) To my defense, I had no idea there was a comic of the Alien franchise until I received the 30th Anniversary edition from LootCrate (apparently there's a comic for everything). *SPOILERS*: NEWT LIVES. I couldn't believe it, and it saddened me that they killed her off in the 3rd movie so anti-climatically; her character had so much potential. The comics do an amazing job of capturing the after effects of severe trauma, the selfish I can't believe I didn't read this graphic novel sooner (It was made in 1987!!) To my defense, I had no idea there was a comic of the Alien franchise until I received the 30th Anniversary edition from LootCrate (apparently there's a comic for everything). *SPOILERS*: NEWT LIVES. I couldn't believe it, and it saddened me that they killed her off in the 3rd movie so anti-climatically; her character had so much potential. The comics do an amazing job of capturing the after effects of severe trauma, the selfishness and greed of the human race in general, the callousness of corporate and government entities, men of science that believe they're gods, sociopathy, human arrogance and mass delusion (that led way to the infestation of earth and the demise of the human race), and the horror that is the xenomorph species. I was especially impressed with how in-depth the creators went with the lore (for lack of a better word) of the xenomorph universe. They even vaguely went into the "space jockey" species that crash landed on Acheron. I can't recommend this graphic novel enough, The creative thinking that went into other technological advances, like how people didn't watch traditional TV anymore because the FCC was dissolved. Instead we had literally thousands of "shows" that were channeled straight into the retinas, the shows flipped depending on your pulse and brain stimulation. ALSO NEWT FALLS IN LOVE WITH A MARINE ANDROID (UNBEKNOWNST TO HER), BANGS HIM ONE TIME, HE GETS TORN IN HALF, SHE SAVES THE TOP HALF OF HIM AND THEY RUN OFF TO SPACE. I'M SO BOTHERED SHE'LL NEVER HAVE SEX AGAIN BECAUSE HIS ANDROID DONG IS IN ON EARTH

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Even though is was in black and white I still loved the imagry and overall design of the story panels. The fact that it was well written added to it. As a fan of this genra and especially the movies it is based on I liked that the writer decided to include characters (i.e. Hicks and Newt) we were already familiar with but tweaked their story so they seemed fresh. It was these characters who the story seems to focus on, along with the greedy corporation that stupidly wants to the alien Even though is was in black and white I still loved the imagry and overall design of the story panels. The fact that it was well written added to it. As a fan of this genra and especially the movies it is based on I liked that the writer decided to include characters (i.e. Hicks and Newt) we were already familiar with but tweaked their story so they seemed fresh. It was these characters who the story seems to focus on, along with the greedy corporation that stupidly wants to the aliens into a weapon. Towards the end end of the story I was also pleasantly surprised at the inclusion of what I assume is the (view spoiler)[Predator race of aliebs (hide spoiler)] . It would be interesting to see how the author would put his spin on that interaction if he decided to visit it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nic Morgan

    A hard read. Even for a graphic novel. Clunky, and really scattered brained. Plot details jumped around, and it was hard to follow. Was under the impression that this was what inspired the books by Steve and S.D. Perry (Earth Hive, Nightmare Asylum, Female War), after they had to change Hicks and Newt, to Wilks and Billie because of “Alien 3”. If this was, then wow... waaaaay too different. The “Alien” series is probably my all time favorite franchise, and getting the chanc A hard read. Even for a graphic novel. Clunky, and really scattered brained. Plot details jumped around, and it was hard to follow. Was under the impression that this was what inspired the books by Steve and S.D. Perry (Earth Hive, Nightmare Asylum, Female War), after they had to change Hicks and Newt, to Wilks and Billie because of “Alien 3”. If this was, then wow... waaaaay too different. The “Alien” series is probably my all time favorite franchise, and getting the chance to read this story was exhilarating... Only for me to be ultimately be disappointed... The physical book itself is beautiful. Hardcover, thick black reflective pages. The book itself is a work of art... Too bad the content isn’t.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Doctor Alpha

    It starts promising, setting up a very horror atmosphere, but then it decides to throw a bunch of plotlines that reek 80's from a mile away with a corny cult based on the titular Alien, Hicks hired to steal YET AGAIN another creature but this time for the government, Hicks followed by a spy because reasons, Hicks attacking a ship after take-off with the same mindset...really disappointing considering the starting point. The best I can say about this comic is that it made me finally realize that It starts promising, setting up a very horror atmosphere, but then it decides to throw a bunch of plotlines that reek 80's from a mile away with a corny cult based on the titular Alien, Hicks hired to steal YET AGAIN another creature but this time for the government, Hicks followed by a spy because reasons, Hicks attacking a ship after take-off with the same mindset...really disappointing considering the starting point. The best I can say about this comic is that it made me finally realize that people constantly attacks Star Wars for being unoriginal and inclined to ground retread, but the same can be said for ALL the major franchises, not just the one created by Lucas.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Aliens the 30th anniversary original comics by Mark Verheiden and illustrated by Mark Nelson was an average read for me. I found the story very hard to follow as it jumped around allot. The artwork very busy so I had trouble figuring out what was happening but it is an older style so that might just be me. I did like how it gave some new lore to the alien franchise and the depictions of the aliens. I think if I was a mega fan I would of enjoyed this more but to me it just felt like an average re Aliens the 30th anniversary original comics by Mark Verheiden and illustrated by Mark Nelson was an average read for me. I found the story very hard to follow as it jumped around allot. The artwork very busy so I had trouble figuring out what was happening but it is an older style so that might just be me. I did like how it gave some new lore to the alien franchise and the depictions of the aliens. I think if I was a mega fan I would of enjoyed this more but to me it just felt like an average read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tarash_bulba

    Sadly there is no Ripley here, but we get instead the next best thing, Hicks and Newt, alive and kicking, in this cool comics set in an 80's dystopian vision of a future which is much, much better than the movies that happened after the second installment in the Alien franchise. Bonus points for a bold story line that pulls no punches, beautiful graphics, cool retro SF imagery, the original pilot race and a genestealer cult in action ;) Highly recommended for any comics or Aliens fan. Or bo Sadly there is no Ripley here, but we get instead the next best thing, Hicks and Newt, alive and kicking, in this cool comics set in an 80's dystopian vision of a future which is much, much better than the movies that happened after the second installment in the Alien franchise. Bonus points for a bold story line that pulls no punches, beautiful graphics, cool retro SF imagery, the original pilot race and a genestealer cult in action ;) Highly recommended for any comics or Aliens fan. Or both.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gareth

    Despite being rendered non-canonical, still quite a good read, and a better next step for Hicks and Newt than Alien 3 presented to my mind. Quite dark, capturing the nastiness of the Aliens and also humankind quite well, with a couple of interesting twists through it. I got a bit confused with timelines at one point, as seemed to be some overlap at times, but otherwise a good story overall I think.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alex Putnam

    Comics are tough to review, particularly this one. Do you review the author, the artist, their collaboration? I don’t know. Three stars for the story here, with the caveat that the story is _severely_ hindered by the inability to use Ripley, five stars for the art, four for the collaboration. Three stars it is then but only because there is no Ripley.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Kleimola

    I wanted to love this collection... I imagine if I'd read it when it was originally published, I'd have a more favorable opinion. Time has not helped the story. Unfortunately, the story also does not feel big enough -- important enough -- for this many pages. I enjoyed the artwork, and the decision to keep it black and white helps the mood of the book. Overall, though, it was disappointing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aleksander Ritchkovic

    Extensive and satisfying follow up to Cameron's Aliens that is just bat-shit insane enough to work as a comic. Liked the idea of the religious alien cult, as well as the insight into the state of mind of someone being impregnated by the face hugger. Sometimes the art is a bit 'meh', but I enjoyed my time reading.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    I found the story enjoyable. My minor quip has to do with the art. I found the art to be a little messy and some of the characters were kind of hard to distinguish just based on their looks. Also, a few of the pages seemed oddly placed in terms of how the multiple story lines were being told.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rory

    The story is a little goofy in hindsight knowing what we know now about the story post-Aliens, and Verheiden's ideas are not canon anymore. That said, the book is full of imagination, the art is superb, and the hardcover presentation from Dark Horse is stunning so I'm giving it top marks!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tristan Palmer

    Though it was eventually made non-canonical by Alien 3, I still think this story is superior, or at least much more fun, even if it is very 90’s in how it feels.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    A grotesquely enjoyable and riveting read

  23. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Maluck

    Deserves a fourth star for the stellar presentation - deluxe oversized paper with black trim, plus extra art and letters from the original team.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cal

    Always astounded at the amount of art effort that goes into these project books. Thin on story; strong on artistic effort. Curiosity satisfied.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    review coming soon, one thing for sure, if you're loving the Alien franchise this is a must have

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ulla

    Faithful to the original series in its dark and cynical worldview. Was not the biggest fan of the artwork but the story carried through better than expected.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Dated, melodramatic and simplistic, but still a fun comic and quick read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kei

    Gorgeous art. And I was very happy to see an extension of the universe past Aliens where we got to see more from Newt and Hicks. I did enjoy Aliens3, but... the opening credits were painful.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Excellent and acclaimed for good reason--none of these feature Ripley, but there's Newt & Hicks, and plenty of Weyland-Yutani suits thumb-twiddling around with said aliens. Remove or replace them and not too far different than the old EC comics set in outer space--a grim life, filled with twists.

  30. 4 out of 5

    JoeMcCormack

    Now non-canonical follow up to Aliens (Alien 3 onwards in incompatible with this comic). Interesting alternate spin on what the Alien series may have turned into, with several twists about the alien and their nature. Comic is in black and white which made it a bit hard to follow and recognise certain characters across panels.

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