Review: Aliens: Life and Death #1

Today I’m taking a look at Dark Horse Comics’ Aliens: Life and Death #1, which is the next in the series of "Life and Death" miniseries written by one of my favorite current writers, Dan Abnett and drawn by Moritat. I’ve only read the Predator book prior to this one, and that was alright, so I decided to have a crack at this one. aliens-life-and-death-1The issue kicks off with Colonial Marines in the middle of a dogfight with some Xenomorphs who have attacked them (or maybe the marines attack them, but I doubt it.) It’s all action from the get go. Pretty much every page is an alien being shot in the fucking face and people being snatched up by aliens from time to time. Plus a little bit of talking about who’s missing and some feels thrown in because one woman on the team is married to another woman who has been snatched by the aliens… I think Prometheus makes an appearance, too (if that was Prometheus.)

As far the writing goes, Dan Abnett doesn’t really bring anything spectacular to this first issue. It’s pretty run-of-the-mill stuff, which is forgivable as there’s not a lot you can do with these aliens - the stories in all of these Aliens books follow a pretty basic formula. All you have to do for an Aliens book is show the aliens killing people off one by one, then have the remaining humans plot how they’ll kill the aliens or escape from them and then have the humans kill the aliens or escape the aliens somehow… It’s a series you can "churn out and fuck off early" on. Great books if you like Aliens a lot, not so much if you’re looking for something different. I’m not going after Abnett here; he’s just doing his job, and I know he’s a great writer.

For Moritat’s art in this issue, I’m not a big fan of how he draws the aliens. They’re all shaky and fucked up. His humans look fine, but I’m not reading the book to see humans. The opening page is horrendous. It’s a splash page of badly drawn aliens running towards the marines (who’re off panel.) For some reason, it looks to me like the aliens' arms are fucked, it’s like he forgot to draw the forearms or something and just elongated the hands. These arm-hands look like tree trunks… So, yeah, the aliens aren’t great. Humans are okay.

Overall, not a great issue but if you’ve come this far in the "Life and Death" series, you’ll probably want to finish reading it. You’re nearly at the end of it all. If you’re thinking about coming into the series late, I wouldn’t choose to pick this issue up first. Try the Predator: Life and Death mini and go from there.  Obviously, if you’re a die-hard Aliens fan you won’t give a shit what I say, and you’ll buy it anyway. And that’s what makes these licensed books work and that’s why they’ll keep printing ‘em.

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Aliens: Life and Death #1 Writer: Dan Abnett Artist: Moritat Colorist: Rain Beredo Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Mini-series; Print/Digital


Review: The Hellblazer #1

Here we are, another new Rebirth #1 from DC Comics. This time around, we’re looking at The Hellblazer. Now, this is the first version of John Constantine I’ve read since they cancelled the original Hellblazer series over at Vertigo… which still stings to this day. I completely missed the Constantine series DC did (I was still too pissed off at the Hellblazer cancellation to read it), and I read a preview of the last series, and that was as far as it went. So, this is pretty much my first proper taste of a DC flavoured John Constantine…

The issue is a pretty bad to the series… You’re supposed to be selling what’s going to make this a great series from the get-go, but we’re not diving head first into the magic/supernatural elements or much else for that matter. We get some passable writing from Simon Oliver, and it’s looking pretty healthy at the beginning, but then there're things littered throughout it that I found irksome... I’m not getting John’s Scouse accent in my head when I’m reading this. These skulls where a character swears/curses are getting on my tits already (slap parental advisory on the front and let’s get some fucking naughty words up in here, DC) and there’s some bizarre references in this issue that I’m sure only the odd, old British person will get (people outside of the UK, without googling, tell me who Ronnie Corbett or Paul Daniels is in the comments section. Or at least have a guess.) We do get some Swamp Thing in this issue, though. It’s not all doom and gloom… But I wouldn’t have minded a bit of doom and gloom in the storytelling to be fair. It’s a bland start from this creative team.

Hellblazer 1 2016Moritat’s art in this issue isn’t that bad. I’m talking about the line art when I say that, because, my god… The coloring over the top is absolutely abysmal. It looks half-finished, almost like the flatting has been done and left until it was too late to do anything about it. I don’t even know who to point the finger at for that because Moritat and Andre Szymanowicz are both credited for the coloring. Either way, it’s bad. It’s too damn bright, too. I’d like to see a different colorist brought in to try and make the artwork better. Someone like John Rauch would be great on this book, give him a call.

To wind it up, I will be giving this series until the end of the first arc to try and hook me. I’m a sadist like that. It’s going to take something really special to keep me on-board, which is sad because I really like the character and the world which he inhabited in the Vertigo series. It should never have moved from Vertigo, and until they move it back, you aren’t going to get another decent Hellblazer series. If you’re buying this book, prepare to be spoon fed a PG-rated, not really John Constantine, John Constantine.

Look at the facts, mate… Hellblazer ran for 300 issues under Vertigo. John’s on his third series under DC. He’s had a TV series fail miserably, which could have been great if they’d gone darker because that’s what Hellblazer is: It’s dark. And it needs to be. You can’t fluff up magic, demons and all things that pertain to occultism. That sort of shit needs to be vile and dark and in your face.

You aren’t going to get that from DC, and if you’re holding back the more mature elements to try and sell more comics to the kiddies, you need your fuckin’ heads checked, lads.

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The Hellblazer #1 Writer: Simon Oliver Artist: Moritat Colorist: Andre Szymanowicz and Moritat Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital