Writer: Corrina Bechko
Artist: Javier Garcie-Miranda
Oh, dear. How do you keep the titular Aliens exciting after over 30 years? The original film did an astonishing job of fusing the science fiction and horror genre into something new. “Something new” became old pretty quickly when the creeping horror of the original film and its impressive sequel was repeated again and again in several unimpressive sequels and Predator crossovers, plus one very baffling prequel. Dark Horse Comics breathed additional life into the characters by giving them their own series and, in fact, launching the original crossover with the Predators. Still, by the 90s, everyone and his mother was having a crossover with the Aliens. (I’m exaggerating a little, although the title of Aliens Versus Predator Versus The Terminator suggests that somebody didn’t know when to stop throwing characters into the mix.)
So I’ve read through Aliens/Vampirella and didn’t find much to get excited about, because there wasn’t a whole lot here that hasn’t been seen before, other than one new character being thrown into the mix. Otherwise, it’s pretty formulaic: some people on an alien planet (in this case, Mars, in some unstated future) make a chilling discovery of death and alien infestation, and some familiar eggs open up, and….The only thing that makes this story different is that the Vampirella mythology is added to the blender. An opening flashback sequence shows us that Mars had both vampires and xenomorphs, and the story’s shift into the future explores exactly why both those species were there, as Martian colonists summon Vampirella to investigate what happened.
Corrina Bechko’s story is competent, but not particularly compelling. Admittedly, I’ve never read a Vampirella comic before, but this comic didn’t do much to sell me on her, as she doesn’t do much more than play archaeologist here. The team of scientists who accompany her on the exploration of a xenomorph nest aren’t showcased much either, and unsurprisingly, I wasn’t surprised when many of them fell prey to some facehuggers. There was, perhaps, a wasted opportunity to reflect on the irony of a vampire making an unfortunate venture into a monster’s crypt in a reversal of so many horror themes. Alas, if there was any intent to explore that theme, it was too subtle to notice. To her credit, Bechko does give the story a surprise ending that will leave you wondering how the heroine gets out of this one, This is a miniseries, but the last page does leave you wondering how a second issue will be possible.
Javier Garcia-Miranda’s art is pretty good, though. Although it’s initially pretty standard art, as the story progresses it becomes much moodier, reflecting the grim tone of wandering into a xenomorph crypt. Funny enough, it’s when the story moves into the shadows that Garcia’s art really starts to shine. Hopefully this level of work continues through the remainder of the miniseries.
Beyond that, there’s not a lot new here. This series may appeal to Vampirella fans who want to know what would happen if she met the xenomorphs. (Whether this book is intended to be in continuity with Dynamite’s main Vampirella series isn’t clear, though I’m thinking not if it’s set in an unspecified future where Mars has been colonized.) Otherwise, this book doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from any other story where a superhero has an unfortunate encounter with the aliens.
Rating: Two and half facehuggers out of five.