By Dustin Cabeal
This was probably not the book to read this week for me. I just watched Alien: Covenant aka Alien: Whatever This Bullshit Is. Let me tell you, watching Ridley Scott make the same fucking movie again, but then also shitting on anything good you could pull from Prometheus at the same time.
I loved the first issue of James Stokoe’s first issue of Dead Orbit, but I had this sneaking suspicion that he was just redoing the first alien’s movie. In many ways that’s all Dead Orbit is, a rehash of the first film, but then also a weird in-betweener story that can you can drop between any other Alien story and be okay. The pacing is good, and it’s clear that Stokoe understands the formula for the bulk of Alien stories. Unlike his work on Godzilla: Half Century War in which he tied everything in the Godzilla-verse together in an amazing little bow and the charm was that he showed the overall formula in doing that, here, not so much.
Formula in horror is why no one says Nightmare on Elm Street 3 is their favorite Nightmare on Elm Street movie. No one is like H20 was definitely the best Halloween movie. You can enjoy them, even have a soft spot for them, but at the end of the day they were a formula film, and in horror, there’s a clear correlation between declining ticket sales and which installment in the franchise it is. The point is, the money goes down because only hardcores are still pleased to see the same movie over and over, much how this comic is the same Alien story over and over. All the character types are there, and none of them have any depth, any substance and really, any reason to root for them. You kind of want the fucking Aliens to just cleanly win this one and not have to watch one of them get blown out to space. Which is what will likely happen in the next issue, to at least one of the Aliens.
The only interesting twist that Stokoe offers is that two of the infected people were twins, which makes the Xenomorphs technically twins as well. That’s interesting… on paper. It, unfortunately, means very little to the story. The only other twist is that it doesn’t star a female lead, but rather a dude. You could flip the gender, and this would still be the same story so it again, shows how lacking the characters are.
The art is fucking great. Go figure right? I mean I could look at Stokoe’s Aliens all day. The art was never going to be a problem on this series because if you’re picking it up, it’s because you like Stokoe’s artwork. Like me and a ton of other people, you probably read Orc Stain, got excited for Godzilla: Half Century War and maybe even read that baseball book that he doesn’t like to associate with due to the writer’s sketchy Kickstarter practices. You probably saw this and got excited. Stokoe plus Aliens… it seems so perfect.
It’s not a bad comic book, but it’s not good either. If the art were by anyone else, you wouldn’t be reading issue three. It’s that dull. It’s that boring. It’s painfully similar to everything Alien out there, even the new film. Also, the main dude is probably just a droid since that’s the only element we seem to be missing, but I’m hard pressed to keep going on this series regardless of how many issues are left.
Aliens: Dead Orbit
Writer/Artist: James Stokoe
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics