Aliens 30th Anniversary & Aliens HC Vol. 2 - Nightmare on Earth | Review


Published on Feb 19, 2018


It was 1988, the second film in the saga of the Alien (Aliens - the Final Clash) was released in cinemas all over the world just two years before, when the Dark Horse created the Alien universe in comics. At the time screenwriter Mark Verheiden (who would later become producer of the tv show as a Daredevil and Battlestar Galactica) was a novice in the world of comics, but had the enthusiasm and the right passion for the xenomorfi to be chosen as the author of Aliens: Book I.

In the space of three years, Dark Horse published three mini-series which went to make up the first trilogy of comics dedicated to the saga of the Alien. Aliens 30th Anniversary, was published last year by Saldapress, is a prestigious volume that collects the first chapter of that trilogy. Aliens: Book I is the beginning of a path that has given origin to a long series of comic stories (the latest of which is the mini-series Fire and Stone), and a veritable rib of the Alien Universe film.

Last week Saldapress has published the following Aliens 30th Anniversary. The volume is titled Aliens HC vol.2-Nightmare On Earth, and contains the last two chapters of the first trilogy of comics dedicated to the xenomorph.

Aliens 30th Anniversary is the sequel comic of the movie Aliens-Final Clash, released in 1986. Contrary to what will happen in the film, 1992, produced by David Fincher, in this story, Hicks and Newt, the only survivors of the second film (besides Ripley), are the true protagonists. Newt, now at the threshold of the greatest age, is hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital. Everything that reminds you of the planet Acheron and the xenomorph will be manipulated by Government officials, and other men who do not wish to make known the terrible threat from space. The former sergeant Hicks, instead, is a man alone and depressed, looking for revenge.

What makes it really interesting, this is the first volume in the atmosphere is retro and the visionary who breathes in the pages: the still immature (at the time) Mark Verheiden, have managed to make a subject and a screenplay strongly influenced by the culture-horror film of its time. The cues from John Carpenter and David Cronenberg are many (for example, it is evident a quote from Videodrome), and also the influence of the Nightmare by Wes Craven, especially in parts dreamlike, it makes you feel.

What Verheiden has put in evidence in this first story is the attention to what is happening on the Ground (what is completely overlooked in the movie franchise): which is the drift of a society in disarray, unable to control its technology, and devoid of values. Items, they can promote fanatics and preachers are able to find in the xenomorph a new god to worship.

Hicks and Newt do not feel more connected to the Earth, the call of the Space unites them, so that both will share a new adventure to the edge of Benedict, a military ship in search of the xenomorfi. This part of the story will introduce a character who will become central to Newt, or the marine Butler, the young man who will conquer his heart, and that will guard an incredible secret.

The drawings of Mark A. Nelson give the comic book a touch from the independent production in the ’80s. The technique of drawing on Duoshade, to take a variety of grey tones, that will enhance the black-and-white, and that damage to the coarse style of Nelson a touch more dark and retro (almost videogame 16-bit).

A somewhat naive but intriguing is the solution found by Verheiden to justify the presence of the skeleton of the alien that is glimpsed at the beginning of the film Alien (and Prometheus, Ridley Scott will justify it as a mask belonging to the suit of the Engineers).

A touch naive, to Verheiden, useful, however, to create an intriguing plot, and a visionary, daughter of the cyberpunk and the splutterpunk the ’80s, well accompanied by the drawings, the raw Nelson.

The atmosphere is very different, you breathe in the other two stories that close the trilogy, published in the volume Aliens HC - Nightmare On Earth. In these two comics the plots and screenplays of Verheiden become more square and schematic, and therefore a little more predictable.

In the first story of the volume, entitled, Nightmare in Space, the Earth is now dominated by the xenomorfi, the catastrophe is accomplished. Newt and Hicks, along with Butler, and they seek to return to their home Planet, but to prevent it will be general Spears, a crazed visionary who is training the xenomorfi to create a sort of Salvation army that (in his opinion) to save the Earth.

The story seems to repeat the plot of Aliens-Final Clash, but has the merit of bringing out the crazy personality of sergeant Hick, and the charisma of a Newt, which will be the new Ripley (with some nuance psychological. While the designs and colors of Dan Beauvais create an effect of visionary, given by the use of brushes, which in the future is a trademark of Dark Horse.

And speaking of Ripley: the step between Nightmare in Space and the chapter that closes the trilogy, titled War on land, will have as its point of connection to the appearance in the comics, the character played by Sigourney Weaver (finally granted by 20th Century Fox, the Dark Horse).

Land warfare puts at the centre the theme of the abandonment of mothers: the one of Ripley in respect of a daughter who has never seen, and against Newt that he has met again a long time after you left the inside of the ship as they were doing back on Earth. And that of the Xenomorph Queen, a central figure of the whole story, in regard to his creatures, the daughters with which he intends to rejoin on the Earth.

The style hypertrophic drawings of Sam Kieth and the colors desaturated by Monika Livingston return a bit of the character in the rough of the first comic in the trilogy, but have the defect of being a little confusing in their yield, and to put too much information within the table.

Verheiden in this, his most recent screenplay, it becomes even more square, and the outline in the writing, and then predictable. The dystopic visionary of the first comic is a little lost. So this last chapter of the trilogy turns out to be the most defective, while retaining a certain charm.

In closing, the two volumes proposed by Saldapress Aliens: 30th Anniversary and Aliens HC vol. 2-Nightmare on Earth, are two precious items from the collection for any fan of comics, horror, sci-fi, and especially Alien Universe. The trilogy Verheiden is the basis for any script-writer and illustrator that you want to put to comparison with the universe of the xenomorph, and is a must read for all fans of the genre.

If you want to know the foundations of the Alien Universe, with a different variant than the one film, you can't not have in your collection these two precious and prestigious volumes.

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