The Aliens franchise has a long history with comics, with Dark Horse Comics publishing comics based off the horrifying franchise since the late 80s. With Aliens: Covenant hitting theaters next week I thought it would be a cool idea to dive into a few. For this first outing I will be covering the acclaimed Aliens: Salvation, written by Dave Gibbons, art by Mike Mignola, inked by Kevin Nowlan, and colours by Matt Hollingsworth.
Salvation chronicles the cook of a freighter ship, the Nova Maru, who has been forced by the captain to hastily leave the ship due to a serious complication with their cargo. It’s not clear straight away what the problem is, but considering it’s an Aliens comics you can probably make an educated guess. The cook, Selkirk, and the captain make it down to their remote planet destination, leaving the rest of the crew to perish. But, on the remote planet it becomes a game of survival from the elements and their deadly cargo.
This one-shot is well paced, with a complete story over roughly 45 pages. It keeps the narrative moving, without being rushed. You’re thrown into the action early on, with the disaster striking within the first few pages, but there’s plenty of time within the middle for character moments.
Religion is a big aspect of Aliens: Salvation, but it never feels heavy. It’s never preachy or being slammed, but instead used to frame Selkirk’s actions. It creates inner conflict for the deeply religious man, while also framing the horrors of his situation. For example, there’s a moment where Selkirk is in a kill or be killed situation. Through his inner monologue you see him trying to justify his actions to God, something that others in this narrative wouldn’t do.
While Mignola and his high contrast style are better known for comics with a supernatural flavour, Aliens: Salvation proves that he can also work within the science fiction genre. Mignola litters the page with heavy blacks which create detail and depth. While it’s not heavy in detail, it works well for the grim situations and tone. His Xenomorphs look terrifying and benefit from his signature style. It gives a less is more approach, allowing for your mind to fill in the blanks.
Matt Hollingsworth colours adopt a muted palette that compliment the heavy inking. They’re never overpowering, nor out of place. Instead they contribute to the comics tone and genre. They also create atmosphere, with some panels lighting characters in reds, yellows and blues from various light sources.
If you’re looking for for an Aliens comic to read I can highly recommend Aliens: Salvation. It’s a solid read which takes the Aliens formula and plays with it in a way that true to the franchise, but offers something new. The character of Selkirk offers an interesting perspective to the situation, full of conflict, which also frames the horrors of the situation. Visually, Salvation looks great with Mignola’s high contrast style and Hollingsworth’s colour pallete. The pair, along with inker Kevin Nowlan, give the comic a horror feel which doesn’t feel out of place within the franchise.