Aliens: Fire and Stone #3

Aliens: Fire and Stone #3

Writer: Chris Roberson
Artists: Patric Reynolds
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Cover Artist: David Palumbo

Mistakes can often lead to disaster, and when xenomorphs are involved, it’s more likely a massacre. In Aliens: Fire and Stone #3, Cale finds out the hard way that the simplest of intentions can spiral wildly out of control when you don’t think ahead. The survivor’s of Hadley’s Hope have made a refuge for themselves on LV-223. Unfortunately, that’s about to come to an end.

When I think of the Aliens franchise, I think of the terms sci-fi and horror. The first film is the perfect example of that. There’s a tight focus on a small group of people as they are frighteningly killed off by a horrific looking monster in the cold domain of space. David Palumbo rekindles┬áthat feeling with the stark black cover, a gruesome alien drooling over a gleaming white skull. The image captures the essence of horror. The alien evokes terror with its long, silver teeth, and the presence of the skull reminds the viewer that we are the prey.

In a way, Fire and Stone #3 catches some of that horror essence. While there are more people involved in this story, there are only three named characters who are focused on. Basically there’s Cale who is haunted by his guilty conscience, Dione who takes charge of the survivors in her own gruff way, and the more distant Derrick who is fascinated by the planet. Cale supplies the emotional, human element for the story in this issue. You have to feel somewhat sorry for the guy in that bad things keep finding him and spiraling out of control. There isn’t much for readers to latch on to with Dione, but with Derrick, we get someone who can add some intellectual threads to the story.

Alas, most of this issue is just people getting killed. First someone gets killed by a weird human-xenomorph hybrid. Then it gets killed. A few survivors decide to go back to the ship, they die, trouble finds it way back to camp, and then pretty much everyone dies. Cale’s character thread almost works, but falls just a bit short of really adding an emotional pull to the issue. He had a nice moment with the spear, but it sort of fell apart afterwards. I think Dione’s character hurt the story a lot in that she’s just a bossy person who doesn’t offer anything more. There’s no investment with her, no emotional bond. That said, we still have Derrick, who I like, so we’ll see what becomes of him in the next issue.

The biggest disappointment in this issue is the artwork. For the most part, the shadowy, gritty style works pretty good. The xenomorph-human hybrid is a little comical, but not outright horrible. The human characters all look fine. Even the xenomorphs look pretty good. But then there are two pivotal moments in the comic where the story completely depends on the visuals, and in each case, the artists drop the ball. The first moment is when Cale re-enters the ship and sees an alien queen perched up in the celing with guards and eggs all around. It’s full page spread, but the detail and coloring is ultra simplified. Some of the aliens aren’t even individually colored, but utilize the background color of the page. For an image unveiling something so significant, the artists should have spent a bit more time with the panel. Instead it looks rushed and neglected.

The other moment is when Cale reveals his newly mutated self to Dione in the middle of the night. There’s an excellent lead up to the reveal that sets the scene. The reader knows something has happened to Cale. He was infected by the black goo. Earlier, we saw a hybrid. What will it do to him? When he’s reveal, it’s a great moment to shock readers with something terrifying, something as iconically horrific as the xenomorph on the cover. Unfortunately, hybrid-Cale looks more like a zombie than a xenomorph or any other creature from the Aliens franchise. His design just falls flat.

As is, Aliens: Fire and Stone #3 had plenty of potential, but dropped the ball and failed to deliver. The story is okay, the characters are okay, the art is okay, but okay isn’t really good enough in the end. Readers want to be entertained with rich characters and memorable visuals. This issue falls short on both counts. I give it a three out of five metal bikinis. It’s not terrible, it’s just average. Of course there is one exceptional element to the issue, and that’s the cover. Too bad┬áDavid Palumbo didn’t do that alien queen spread in the interior.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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