William Gibson’s Alien 3 is two levels of incomprehensible to the non-Alien franchise fan. First, you’ve got to know your Aliens, then you probably should know your existing Alien³. Familiarity with Dark Horse Comics’s original Aliens series might not hurt either, so you can better appreciate when Hicks shows up on the very last page. He was the protagonist in that series, which was a direct sequel to Aliens too.
This adaptation comes after the two or three deaths of the Alien franchise and its two or three resurrections; it depends on how you want to count them. It’s one of Dark Horse’s last Aliens licensed titles before Disney bought Fox, presumably with Newt the Disney Princess in future offings. Newt’s not awake yet in this issue. Adapter Johnnie Christmas—writing and illustrating—is just setting things up (presumably based on Gibson’s original plotting).
Instead of crash-landing on a prison planet, the Sulaco (the ship from Aliens) ends up at a waypoint station after passing through U.P.P. space. The U.P.P. is the future Soviets; I can’t remember my Alien³ trivia well enough, but I think the Berlin Wall coming down spoiled them as villains for movies set in the future. The Sulaco passes through their space, so they board it before it crosses their borders, snagging Bishop the android, who has a big alien egg growing out of him. That moment answers one of Alien³: The Movie’s more annoying questions; makes you wish they’d at least kept it from the Gibson script.
When the ship arrives at the Company waypoint station, there are already weapons department scumbags there ready to intercept. They want the aliens, as usual, only it’s illegal for them to be on the waypoint station because of treaties with the future Soviets, putting them at odds with the station crew.
The comic gets through the crew waking up the cast of Aliens, but so far, Sigourney Weaver’s knocked out, and Hicks is smoking somewhere he shouldn’t be. Where’d he get the cigarettes?
It’s a little rushed at the end and a little drawn out at the beginning—Christmas does a 2001 homage with the station boss’s meeting with the weapons division jerks, which is cute but drags. Still, it’s a compelling mix of curiosity, sequel, sci-fi, and politics. There’s not much in terms of character so far, but he’s got four issues to emphasize some of them.
Though, once again, it’s got a very limited appeal just because of the many pre-existing knowledge assumptions.
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