• Aliens: Fire And Stone TPB



    Aliens: Fire And Stone
    Published by: Dark Horse Comics
    Published on: May 13th, 2015.
    Written by: Chris Roberson
    Art by: Patric Reynolds
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    This latest entry in the Dark Horse Aliens comic adaption line begins with a text piece that tells us that Doctor Elizabeth Shaw found a star map to LV-223 that she took as a literal sign from God. When she and the crew of the Prometheus arrived to explore, they found that they we are not alone in this universe and that maybe God isn’t such a nice guy after all. Shaw and an Android named David survived the ordeal and took off, hoping to find some answers unaware that what they left behind could turn into something far more horrifying than they could ever imagine. Sound familiar? If you read the recently released Prometheus: Fire And Stone #1 then it should, but this issue takes place BEFORE that story, though obviously they are going to tie in.

    It’s July 3rd, 2179 when the comic begins and at a terraforming base on LV-426 called Hadley’s Hope some familiar looking aliens are laying waste to an unfortunate group of humans. A group of survivors, led by a middle aged guy named Russell, an engineer, and a greenhouse supervisor named Genevieve decide to get off the moon and use an ore drilling ship as their method of escape. A prospector named Nolan Cale helps them out but the monsters give chase, heading right up to the doors of the massive old ship which isn’t really meant for space travel – it will at least reach orbit, however. The hatches are closed but not before some aliens got in. Cale knows this, but he tells Russell ‘we’re good’ and off they go. Regardless, they pilot the ship to another nearby moon and after a rough but successful landing (that knocks Cale out) find that what should have been a lifeless rock actually has a breathable atmosphere and plentiful vegetation. They head into the cargo hold to get some gear, and…

    The attack that closed the last issue has left everyone in rough shape. Russell, however, has noticed some sort of circular drone patrolling the area. He starts tracking its movements and trying to figure out what this things and after capturing it, deduces that it’s old Weyland-Yutani equipment, a probe, possibly left over and somehow still active from a previous expedition. When he tinkers with it a bit, a strange light emits and it says ‘Prometheus, we are now mapping.’

    The rest of the survivors bicker amongst themselves about the best way to survive, with Cale insisting they bring the attack to them rather than take a more docile approach. Genevieve, however, wants the group to entrench and hold out. Cale has a point, however, in that the crashed ship has food and a rescue beacon they could use if they could get to it. The survivors have found edible food in the area but so too have they found a strange oily sludge that mutates whatever it touches. The aliens have been launching raiding parties of their own, however, and because of this the human numbers on LV-223 are dwindling. While Cale and Genevieve continue to argue, Russell accesses the probe’s internal memory and learns that although the probe has only been scanning for ninety years it has documented what amounts to millions of years’ worth of evolution. He’s excited about the discovery, they others… not so much.

    As they get better at evading the aliens, Russell starts to explore a little bit on his own and comes across a huge face carved out of metal or stone and the leftovers from a terraforming operation inside what may or may not be a huge ship laying dormant for ages. He also finds a cryo chamber with something in it…

    As a few scavenge for food they’re set upon by a creature that appears to be half Alien-half human. It attacks and a survivor named Ramona heads back to base camp with the creature right behind her. They deduce that one of their own, Luiz, merged with the Alien right before Cale puts a spike through it and puts it out of its misery.

    Cale confesses to the rest that he let them take off knowing that an Alien was onboard with them and that he shut his mouth to save his own skin. Dione understandably lashes out at him, but the others pull her back. As they do, Cale tells them his plan – there’s enough gear and communication equipment onboard the wreckage of their ship that he figures if they can make it there, they can call for help and survive long enough to an EVAC to show up. Science officer Russell has second thoughts though – despite the dangers on the planet, he’s grown to like it. He knows the potential that scientific exploitation of all that is there holds. Cale and his crew head to the ship and open the hatch, but when they do, well, let’s just say that Cale was wrong about what would be waiting for them.

    When we last left off, Cale had admitted that he knew the alien was onboard the ship that the survivors took off in and convinces the survivors to make it to the ship where there’s enough supplies to keep them alive until they can be rescued. Science Officer Russell isn’t interested in leaving, however, and he decides to stick around. Cale and the crew found the ship, but there were a lot more aliens around than they’d anticipated.

    As Russell explores, he finds the wreckage of another ship that came from Earth. He finds some salvage he might be able to use and starts to plan to explore the area outside of the jungle – what else does LV-223 have to offer? The next morning he goes out to find food but finds instead a journal left behind by Standish and then he learns firsthand what became of Cale… the accelerant has caused some strange mutations to occur. He heads back to the wrecked ship and deduces that Cale must have come into contact with the accelerant and somehow with some alien DNA at the same time. At the same time, Russell is starting to talk to himself a lot. His only companion at this point is the Rover camera orb that follows him around. On top of that, he’s starting to have difficulty putting his thoughts together and he’s suffering from severe headaches. When he has Rover scan him, he’s none too thrilled with the results.

    When he heads to tend to the burial ground, where he and the others laid to rest those that were killed on the planet, he once again runs into Cale, and then the aliens…

    This is a conclusion in that it ends the Aliens portion of the story but at the same time, it leaves quite a bit more left to be explored in this universe and quite obviously sets up some of the stories as yet untold in the other Fire And Stone four issue runs. The emphasis here is on Russell’s mental state – he’s not doing well and he knows it. He also knows what he needs to do if he wants to survive on a planet that’s overrun by killer aliens, even if he doesn’t like it. He knows this option has risks all its own and is unsure which is the better choice. Roberson’s writing does a good job of getting us into his head and of getting us to understand and sympathize with his plight. He’s a likeable character, but like most men, he’s also quite flawed. His actions here will obviously have ramifications elsewhere.

    Patric Reynolds’ artwork continues to suit the storyline perfectly. Lots of heavy inks and great use of shadow here give the book a particularly dark look, but that’s pretty appropriate given how the story plays out. He has, since the first issue, shown real strengths in creating some memorably grotesque beings in this series and once again he does this with the introduction of the mutated Cale. David Palumbo again contributes a slick painted cover. A fitting ‘end’ to a solid series – it’ll be interesting to see how the events in this final issue continue to affect the rest of the Fire And Stone storylines.

    This TPB edition collects all four issues as well as their cover art and also includes the Aliens: Field Report short that appeared in Dark Horse Presents Volume 3 #2. Written by Chris Roberson and illustrated by Paul Lee it’s an action-centric short that follows Hicks and a couple of Marines as they head into the belly of the beast to deal with the bugs. Ripley calls them back to the APC only to find out that something is very, very wrong when he returns.