• Aliens Defiance #4

    Aliens Defiance #4
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: August 31st, 2016.
    Written by: Brian Wood
    Illustrated by: Tony Brescini
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    “AFTER QUELLING A PROGRAMMED MUTINY BY THE OTHER COMBAT SYNTHETIC DAVIS UNITS ON THE EUROPA, Colonial Marine Private ZULA HENDRICKS is AWOL deep in space along with Davis 01. Could their damaged conditions interfere with their mission to eradicate the alien species? Haunted by her traumatic battlefield experiences and injuries, Zula must dig deep and make a hard decision.”

    The fourth issue in this ongoing Aliens series from Dark Horse Comics continues the story begun in the first three installments (reviewed here). When this chapter starts, Davis 01 has suited up and is exploring the debris field behind the ship. There he finds the partial remains of an alien, indicating that the crew did put up a fight. He radios back to Hendricks, discussing the possibility of bringing the sample back onboard the Europa, but she’s against it. They’ve recently come across records of much of the personal correspondence that the late crew members had with their family members and Hendricks feels that they owe their families an explanation.

    As she goes through her own correspondence she gets a message from Amanda Ripley, who hopes to get to Sevastapol to find out more about her mother (tying right into the Alien Isolation game!), but she also gets a message from Staff Sergeant Victoria Rios notifying her that she’s now considered AWOL and that her salary has been suspended along with her medical benefits. Her last message is from Dr. Emi Yang. She knows Zula is in pain and wants her to come back to finish her treatment.

    We flashback to a squad of Colonial Marines as they land on an unnamed planet and launch an offensive against the bugs. Zula heads into battle and is gravely injured by an explosion. On the next page we see her in a hospital bay, seemingly paralyzed from massive spinal trauma. Her commanding officer comes in and rather than thank her for her sacrifice, he puts her down for losing her gun during the battle, her first active combat mission, and now becoming a financial liability for the Corps.

    Back in the present, Davis has the tally: 121 dead humans, 3 dead aliens. They don’t have the room to bring all the human corpses back, they’re going to drop a buoy and hope the Corps takes care of it someday. They’re both still injured, they’re more or less alone – can they trust each other?

    Building quite nicely off of the three issues that came before it, this fourth installment of Defiance gives you pretty much everything you could want out of a good Aliens story. Character development is clearly very important to this tale, and Brian Wood is carefully putting down some interesting building blocks in this regard. We learn a fair bit more about Zula in this chapter, not only how she was injured but how she was treated. This gives us some important insight into her psyche, it explains why she reacts the way she reacts to certain situations and it makes her a more interesting and more believable character. Davis 01 is still a synthetic, so his personality is going to be limited in that regard but, here too we see some interesting ideas taking place that are clearly going to turn into something more in the coming issues. In addition to this, we get some insight into Zula’s doctor, again, something that will probably come into play sooner rather than later.

    The issue features a decent amount of action to compliment the more dialogue intensive scenes. Tony Brescini illustrates all of this quite well, his style fitting the tone of the book nicely. Dan Jackson’s colors highlight this very effectively (the use of heavy reds in the battle scene is a nice touch, giving those pages an appropriately hellish look). Together their work fits with the three issues that have come before, but at the same time, it has its own distinct style. The scenes with Davis 01 floating about in space surrounded by corpses both human and alien are quite eerie. There’s a good amount of detail present in the backgrounds and the characters are nicely illustrated with a good sense of fluid movement and realistic facial expressions as well. Massimo Carnevale once again provides a stellar cover painting that does a fantastic job of showcasing just what this issue is all about.