Alien #1Marvel’s Alien #1 is the first tangible product of Disney’s acquisition of the titular franchise, preceding an upcoming FX/Hulu series and (presumably) a soft relaunch of the films. Like Star Wars before it, for decades Alien comics were largely published by Dark Horse, but they are now moving forward under Marvel with all-new stories and some of the company’s top talent behind them. The Marvel era of Star Wars comics has been largely successful, so why wouldn’t their take on Alien follow suit?

Picking up 78 years after the original film and 21 after the sequel, we’re introduced to Gabriel Cruz, a Wayland-Utani company man whose devotion to the job resulted in the deaths of his wife and one of their sons. Retirement from active duty gives him an opportunity to reunite with his estranged surviving son Danny, who has become a radical anti-corporatist agent in the following years, but their relationship seems fractured beyond repair. Making matters worse is the fact that Gabriel is suffering from a mystery illness and disturbing, recurring nightmares starring a very familiar species of creature from the Alien films…

Unfortunately, I can’t say this debut issue had a huge impact on me. With a property so beloved and eclectic as this one, no amount of hype could ever be matched by the finished product, but Alien #1 is disappointingly safe in its approach. Gabriel and Danny’s complicated familial ties make for a compelling, human conflict at the core of this science fiction story, but the characters themselves (as of yet) aren’t especially interesting or unique. The plotting by writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson, currently of DC’s flagship Superman titles, is competent but not especially exciting. This is very much a #1 issue, and things could pick up from here, but I can’t see myself returning to this particular run unless I’m proven wrong by effusive praise from others.

I would also argue that it’s an odd decision to hang Marvel’s first-ever Alien title on a boilerplate male character when the franchise as a whole has historically been so woman-led from the start. This isn’t to say that men have no place in this universe, obviously—Michael Fassbender’s android David is one of the most interesting characters in the entire franchise— but they have to be more than just stock archetypes. The only female characters of note present in this issue are Danny’s conniving girlfriend and Weyland-Yutani scientist who is killed just as quickly as she’s introduced, not to mention Gabriel’s alluded-to (and fridged) wife. It’s just an overall not great look for the story being told, and I hope this title isn’t completely male-focused as it progresses.

Salvador Larroca’s visuals are similarly uninspired and bland, as Johnson’s script doesn’t give him much to work with just yet, save for an intriguing (albeit brief) evolution of the xenomorph. Larroca is established enough in the industry that you pretty much know what you’ll get from his work before even reading anything he’s drawn (I’m personally not a big fan). But in fairness to Larroca, nailing the aesthetic of the Alien universe is tricky, and there’s no “right” way to do it. The 1970s griminess of the original film has actually become charming in its datedness to modern eyes, while some believe the contemporary prequel installments are too slick and shiny by comparison.

Overall, the look and feel of Johnson and Larroca’s Alien is too middling to really invest in at this point. Even if I’m not so hot on this debut, I am very interested to see Marvel’s further plans for their newest license, which includes more stories set in this universe. There’s also a brand-new Predator #1 from Marvel on the horizon, and a return to the Alien vs. Predator franchise is inevitable. What I wanna know, however, is when we’re going to see Alien vs. Venom—now that it’s a possibility… 

Alien #1











  • Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
  • Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
  • Artist: Salvador Larroca
  • Color Artist: Guru e-FX
  • Cover Artist: InHyuk Lee

Credits (cont)

  • Editor: Jake Thomas
  • Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Nico Sprezzatura
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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