"Aliens: Dead Orbit #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written and illustrated by James Stokoe
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on December 13th, 2017
Time is running out. Xenomorphs are running through the space station, killing everything in their path. Options are limited, as the vessel is literally falling apart. Wascylewski pulls out all the stops in a desperate last ditch attempt at survival.
To say Aliens: Dead Orbit is an exciting comic is putting it mildly. This issue is non-stop adrenaline from beginning to end. The cramped hallways of the station give way to the vastness of space and it only heightens the tension. So much of this is due to James Stokoe's artwork. He grabs you from page one and never lets go. Since this is the final chapter of the mini-series, it's all climax. Everything has been building to this and it's insane.
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The Xenomorphs have never looked scarier. Unlike what you might get in a movie where they could be hidden by quick cuts and shadows, they're on full display here, allowing you to see every single detail of these amazing and terrifying creatures. Stokoe provides a ton of detail with some very fine lines. I cannot imagine how long this took to draw, but I am thankful that it exists because it's beautiful.
The aliens are unstoppable killing machines, but Wascylewski is one crafty guy. He is flying by the seat of his pants and somehow manages to put together a plan to escape and still stop the Xenomorphs. It's like something ripped right out of an action movie with its ever-increasing level of intensity.
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This gives way to perhaps my favorite image of the entire run. Wascylewski has just blown a hole in the space station, nearly flinging himself into space. Smoke billows out of a broken pipe and the last Xenomorph emerges from the wreckage. The half-page shot shows it kneeling there, injured but deadly as ever. Half of its arm is missing and its side is badly scarred. Droplets of its acid blood are floating out into the ether.
Stokoe brings that tension to the lettering as well, with a jagged font that makes the dialogue (mostly grunts and breaths) appear pained. It's like it's a struggle for Wascylewski to even make a sound, let alone put a few words together. Screams are particularly expressive with letters changing in size to coincide with the volume.
Aliens: Dead Orbit will leave you with white knuckles and clenched fists. This is the best Aliens comic I've ever read and gave me a newfound appreciation for the franchise. James Stokoe's work is absolutely gorgeous from beginning to end and I hope to see more of it very soon.