By Dustin Cabeal
If there’s one creator, you want just to hand a property to its James Stokoe. I’m fairly certain that after his work on Godzilla: Half Century War, that he has his pick of the litter when it comes to stories based on movie franchises. Which is what makes Aliens: Dead Orbit all the more interesting, because it’s Aliens and James Stokoe. Hell, I’m writing with half a chub just looking at his cover which is just amazing.
If there is one downside to this first issue of Aliens: Dead Orbit, it’s that it follows the Aliens formula too well. It lacks a bit of wow factor in that regard because while it’s very, very, very good, it is a bit predictable. Which raises one important question, is that a bad thing? Hell, is that a trap that Stokoe has set up to ensnare the reader in the next issue? It’s difficult to say and this point, but again, the wow factor in the story just wasn’t quite there.
The setup isn’t unfamiliar, but the setting is new. This go around with the Xenomorphs, we’re on a space station/fuel depot owned by none other than Weyland-Yutani. An unknown ship arrives, and our bored crew is forced to go over and visit the ship that is unresponsive. Things happen, characters are introduced, a good time is had by all.
Again, the formula for tension and character introduction is followed quite closely and works well. Stokoe adds his own flair to the characters which is for the best since that’s what made Godzilla work for him as well. Sure, everyone else is showing up for the art, but Stokoe is just as skilled with his writing as he is his art. He’s an all-in-one storyteller.
Talking about Stokoe’s artwork feels like a waste of time. No one is going to read my descriptions of his art and thank, “Damn, I gotta check this guy out!” I mean, maybe he’s still an unknown to some readers that are going to pick this up and have their goddamn minds blown, but the average reader is going to be pinching their nips to get at this book and gaze upon the artwork. To put it simply, the art is vintage Stokoe and look amazing. As much as I loved his Godzilla work, I think I’m a little more in love with his Aliens work, but time will tell. In the meantime, just soak it in and enjoy it since I can’t remember the last time I saw Stokoe’s work... someone help me out with that.
The best way to celebrate Alien’s Day is to pick this comic up. It’s a great bit of throwback for old-school fans, but it’s also warm and welcoming to anyone that’s looking to dive into the Xenomorph pool for the first time. While this first issue was missing something that I couldn’t put my finger on, I’m still very excited for the rest of Aliens: Dead Orbit. I have zero doubts that this is the start of something great and one of the best of 2017.
Aliens: Dead Orbit
Writer/Artist/Letterer: James Stokoe
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics