Aliens: Life And Death (Trade Paperback)
Released by: Dark Horse Comics
Released on: April 12th, 2017.
Written by: Dan Abnett
Illustrated by: Moritat
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“This story takes place approximately forty-three years after the events in the motion picture Aliens and just over a year after the events in the Fire and Stone story cycle). Trapped on LV-223 with hostile, godlike Engineers on one side and a ravenous xenomorph swarm on the other, a disparate group including Colonial Marines, outlaw prospectors, and the survivors of a previous ill-fated mission to the planet make a desperate bid to steal an Engineer ship and escape. But their plan goes wrong
when one of the Engineers departs with the ship—with some of the humans inside.
Meanwhile, a run-in with a second Engineer ends in disaster for another part of the group, while the final team, bringing up the rear with a wounded companion, are intercepted by Aliens...”
So armed with that brief description of what lead up to this storyline, let’s get down to it. A horde of aliens are laying siege to what’s left of the Marines and their companions. A firefight breaks out and there are casualties, as you’d imagine. Wearing and Chris are both taken out.
Meanwhile, Roth is trying to get in touch with… anyone who can hear him on the other side of his radio. Eventually he hears back from Freebody, everyone thought he had taken off and abandoned them but what they don’t know is that the Engineer took off with the rest of his squad, leaving him alone. Neither he nor anyone on Freebody’s side know what happened to Galgo, but then we learn – he was teamed up with a Predator dubbed Ahab, but the bugs got him and no he’s flying solo. And he’s surrounded.
Roth meets up with Freebody and the rest, but Jill is freaking out over Chris’ death and they’re running low on ammo. And then they hear something in the distance, something heading their way…
Aboard the Rapid Response Combat Ship Hasdrubal Roth and the others have picked up a signal. They know that Chris ‘the girl’ is alive, but likely in trouble with the xenomorphs. Ancane notes that there’s no coming back from an embryo plant, once that’s been done, you’re toast. He figures since they evac’d and got everyone out alive that they could that there’s no sense going back for her. Roth wants to go back, he figures if Chris is there then Rucker could be too. And on top of that, he reminds the others that they are Marines and that this is what they’re supposed to do.
Roth gets his way and moments later the eighteen surviving USMC recruits out of the original thirty-one are having a meeting. Soon enough, a few volunteers suited up and ready to go, despite the fact that this is a ‘tactically poor’ operation. Melville throws in with the grunts, much to Captain Paget’s surprise. He feels he owes Chris a debt.
Elsewhere, Jill and Lorimer are talking about Chris’ chances for survival. They know they’re not good, but Jill loves her wife and wants her to make it back alive. That’ll mean top level medical care if they can retrieve here, the kind that only a high tech corporation like Weyland-Yutani could provide. They make a deal – they get Chris, cut whatever they want out of her should she be implanted, and then hand her back to Jill alive.
As the Marines get ready to land, one of the crew asks what happened to Galgo, that guy who ‘teamed up with a hunter.’ And then we find out.
Jill leads the troop of Marines further inward in hopes of saving her girlfriend Chris. They load up and head in on Paget’s command, unaware that inside the hive Chris has come face to face with a horde of aliens and their queen. Things look really and, and then some strange noises in the distance cause the bugs to retreat before killing her. They get communications back and Chris tells Sergeant Roth not to come after her – she’s carrying one of them, she has been, as she puts in, implanted. Jill gets word of this and tells her that she’s talked to Lorimer at Weyland-Yutani and that they’ve promised to do an extraction, that there’s still hope and that they can save her life.
Meanwhile, Galgo and his Predator friend Ahab come across the dropship that the Marines have used to land on the planet. Unfortunately for everyone, an Engineer gets to it first and when he does, he blows it up. Galgo figures now they have no choice but to find the Marines and hope they can call for a backup ship.
As Chris scuttles about the hive hoping to give Paget any clues as to her location, she comes across what’s left of their comrade in arms, Rucker. A chestburster makes short work of the reunion, but Chris notes that the thing that came out of him, it has some sort of birth defect. She speculates that the black goo that the Engineers seem so keen on might have caused the aliens to mutate, preventing them from breeding properly. She wonders if, since the queen would seem to be infertile, if the reason that the aliens are leaving her alone is because what she’s been implanted with is the last queen embryo – that might make getting Chris out of the hive even more difficult than it already would have been…
Paget’s second in command, Delaria, is aboard the Hasdrubal with Lorimer, checking in on the drop team. They radio to get an okay, but receive no response in return. There are a few reasons that the signal could have gone dead, they’re not panicking… yet. Delaria knows that she needs to keep trying and if they continue to come up empty, prep a recovery team. Lorimer, ever the company man, is behind her on this – there’s a lot of potential money at stake here. Except that Paget told Delaria to do no such thing – if they go black, leave them there and get out. Delaria knows that Weyland-Yutani doesn’t care about lives, they care about profit – Delaria would rather follow Paget into Hell than tow the company line.
On the planet’s surface, the Marines go up against a well-armed Engineer. There are casualties. This is a fight they can’t win, especially when an alien shows up. More casualties. Their numbers are thinning quickly. The place is ‘crawling with bugs’ – Paget knows this. If they can’t win against the Engineer and they can’t hide from the aliens, how can they save Chris? Jill is refusing to give up, and Paget isn’t keen on this either.
Paget radios Chris, tells her what they’re up against – but Chris… she’s able to call of the bugs when they swarm and attack. They know what is inside her. The conversation is cut short when the Engineer shows up, guns blazing, but Chris has a plan – she knows that the alien queen understands a threat, even if she can’t understand her words. The Marines decide to go down fighting, to lure the Engineer into the hive knowing that the queen will do whatever it has to do in order to guard what’s left of her hive…
To be continued in Aliens Vs. Predator: Life And Death #1, out later this month! Until then, this final chapter in Aliens: Life And Death delivers, even if clearly the story isn’t finished yet. Abnett’s story takes things to a logical conclusion of sorts here, it makes sense that the issue would end the way that it does, but at the same time he ties in some of the threads from earlier in the Life And Death runs, meaning that those who have been paying attention from the start are going to get more out of this than those who didn’t (which is maybe stating the obvious but there are nods to the earlier four issue runs that are kind of cool here). By this point we know and, for the most part at least, like the characters. Paget is noble, putting her team ahead of herself. Jill and Chris are clearly in love, we want them to make a go of it. The rest of the Marines? They want to get the Hell out of there, and really who can blame them? Lorimer remains a shifty type, we don’t trust him, nor should we. Where it’ll go from here, we’ll have to find out later this month when the AVP run, the last run for Life And Death, begins.
Moritat’s art was an unorthodox choice from the start but it works. There’s a lot of expressive line work here, the characters are well rendered as are the backgrounds and the aliens and Engineers alike are both nicely illustrated. The coloring from Rain Beredo is excellent and compliments the art in a big way, helping to bring it to life and making sure that are eyes are drawn to where they’re supposed to be drawn. Throw in a great cover piece from David Palumbo, who really is making a name for himself lately, and you’ve got a seriously good comic that, like a good comic should, leaves you wanting more.