By Dan Abnett, Moritat, Rain Beredo and David Palumbo
Life and Death is a new series of crossovers from Dark Horse, consisting of four separate limited comic book series making for one glorious event. Under Life and Death you’ll get four issues each of Aliens, Predator, Prometheus and Aliens vs. Predator (the latter is confirmed though not officially announced). Collect them all or just your preferred run, either way it’s going to keep current fans happy while surely bringing new readership into the fold. Dan Abnett writes each miniseries and he doesn’t seem to be pulling any punches, especially with Aliens: Life and Death #1. On the heels of the war with the Engineers, it would seem the chaos is only going to continue. A lot has happened preceding this new crossover event, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to go grab the back issues and trades and get up to speed, if only because it was such a blast! But, realistically, that may not be in your budget…
So let’s gear this review to readers that may not be as familiar as the rest of are with everything that’s come to pass. Since there’s already so much out there in this franchise, especially with all of the various crossovers, it may seem daunting for a new reader to jump on at this point. The good news is, whether you know exactly what’s going on or not, you’ll without a doubt be thoroughly entertained. These books are as much for fans of sci-fi horror comics as they are for folks specifically looking for Aliens, Predator or both. And, whether or not writers or artists are able to bring something new to the table, the same old same old continues to be as big a payoff as ever. This is likely one of those, “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I like it anyway,” situations.
Aliens: Life and Death #1 kicks off with a healthy dose of mayhem and keeps the action going until the last page. Xenomroph-style rampaging, soldiers shooting wildly, with plenty of carnage all around is exactly what you should expect from these books, and this first issue delivers. When it comes to the Aliens, nothing has ever changed in regards to what makes them the ultimate antagonist. Since the original movies, the Aliens have maintained their single-minded quest to breed and destroy, and by now they’ve fully saturated pop culture as one of the most reliably horrific things a human can face. In the comics, it may be more important to keep that spirit alive rather than instill a sense of newness, but none can argue that human character development is essential. Thankfully Abnett has a plan and his human characters either feel appropriately gung-ho or riddled with panic. They have (or had) names, they have relationships and they continue to fight for their own way of life if not their very existence.
With a fantastic cover by David Palumbo (Joe Golem) and interiors by the incomparable Moritat (Elephantmen) this comic is every bit worth the cover price. The cover art is reason enough to pick this book up and keep it safe with bag and board, while the interiors offer a terrific contrast between subject and art style. Moritat’s artwork is accessible, even friendly, but what he draws here is hardcore and that makes it interesting. Take an artist who’d be as comfortable drawing a dramatic book without violence and put him on a title that’s known for being insanely violent and you’ve got a thing of beauty. Adding to that sense of wonder is colorist Rain Beredo who builds textures and mood that feed into the sense of dread, which Moritat has already created. Look for David Palumbo and Beredo on other Life and Death titles too – their work will be the connective factor here that’ll keep this feeling like a single universe. Working on any one of these titles would be a treat and one can only imagine what it’s like to be working on all of them. That’s got to be a motivating factor among the creative team that hopefully continues to translate to the page.
If you’re a fan that’s back for more, get ready for some serious fun, but if you’re just joining us, well, get ready to be totally hooked. Life and death is gonna be a wild ride and Aliens is in very good hands.