Alien #4 Review

by Nick Devonald on June 16, 2021

Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colours: Guru-eFX
Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles

It’s obvious by this fourth issue that the Alien franchise is in safe hands at Marvel, especially while it’s under Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s masterful storytelling. The Xenomorph manages to be terrifying once again, even as the Marines superior firepower manage to put a few down. Johnson manages to avoid turning them into mere cannon fodder though, and the story is stronger for it. After the conclusion to the last issue Gabe is now joined by the Bishop class android which he’s worked with in the past. Featuring Bishop is an excellent touch, it’s reminiscent of Aliens, in keeping with the mythology of the world, and helps readers feel like they’re in familiar territory.

We’ve got a Marine out of his depth, a familiar android, a hardened veteran and an Alien infested space station which has been turned into a hive. It’s a recipe for classic Xenomorph storytelling and feels much closer in tone to the movies than the comics have managed to capture in recent years. But it never feels like it’s playing it safe and retelling the same story. Here we have a man trying to rescue his son, while somewhere onboard the station is Iris, escaped and with her own goals which conflict with Gabe’s. All of this set against the Xenomorph threat would be enough, but Johnson is also putting his stamp on the mythology as well, teasing Xenomorphs that readers haven’t encountered yet, with a reveal towards the end of the issue which is going to leave fans desperate for the next issue and some answers.

Johnson and Clayton Cowles deserve recognition for the way they bring the Xenomorphs alien noises to life. Johnson manages to capture the noises they make in such a clever way that readers can hear the “Shythhhhhh” and “Skreeee” in their heads, while Cowles letters it in a looser style which contrasts with the rest of the dialogue which serves to highlight the sound it makes. It really helps to build the strong horror vibe that all of the creators have managed to come together and build so well. The biggest success of the comic so far is making the Xenomorph truly terrifying once more.

A large part of the threat and the menace that the Aliens possess come down to Salvador Larroca’s art. He captures the Xenomorph in all of its deadly grace, it’s destructive and violent nature brutally fill the pages, and there is no need to dial back any of the gore. When they attack it’s swift and brutal, and moves in the horrifying manner familiar to fans. The hive looks as creepy as it does in Aliens, filled with organic matter secreted from the aliens.

Any doubters about whether or not Marvel could pull off the Alien license will by now have had their doubts quelled. Johnson understands how to tell a good story, fitting in and expanding the rich mythos, while Larroca manages to make them horrifying again, capturing them in their alienness, and once more making them a threat to be reckoned with. A true sequel to Aliens.

Our Score:


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