by James Stokoe
The thing about James Stokoe, in the simplest of terms, is that he’s an artist that can speak more with lines and colors than a lot of writers can with words. That’s not a knock on writers, or other artists even, but it sets the tone for this review. James Stoke doesn’t say much with words through the first sixteen panels, aside from setting the location and a few alarms. He makes it up to twenty-four panels before a character even speaks, and in those twenty-four panels a person can spend more time pouring over the story and the setting than most can spend on a regular comic in twenty four pages. The sheer detail and scope that Stokoe is setting up is breathtakingly staggering; his detail work is among the best in the business, past or present, and it’s refreshing to see this level of craftsmanship in a comic book.
His deeply infused manga-esque style, cranked up to eleven, is the kind of style that makes it stand out from everything else on the shelf. That goes for the new releases or the old ones. If that cover doesn’t grab you immediately and practically force you to pick it up, it’s hard to really gauge just how much of a comic book fan you really are. Even if you don’t like the Aliens franchise–and really that’s an entirely different conversation in and of itself–this is a book that you need to purchase. This is not coming from some sort of twisted, self-aggrandizing promotion for some sort of under the table kick backs or high fives. This is a desperate cry, a desperate shout for people to put this book in their hands.
If you missed out on Stokoe’s Godzilla: The Half Century War then, aside from the obligatory “shame on you” because you can pick this up in trade through IDW, Aliens: Dead Orbit is not something you’re going to want to pass up. All you need to do is put it in your hands and look at at the pages. Forget reading it for a moment and just let your eyes graze on the space ship designs, the character designs, the muted colors and interesting gradients. It can’t be said enough, so let’s pull it back in here just in case you missed it the first time: James Stokoe is a comic book god.
Okay, maybe that isn’t exactly how it was said previously, but you get the picture. Aliens: Dead Orbit comes straight from the hands of a comic book god up there with the likes of Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Brian Bolland, Osamu Tezuka, and more. That is the kind of artist and storyteller that James Stokoe is. This is setting itself up to become the Aliens book; the best book to come out of this franchise in its almost thirty-year existence. No bullshit, buy this book and you will not be sorry.