William Gibson’s Alien 3 (2018) #4

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Thirteen or so pages of this issue are the best work Johnnie Christmas has done on William Gibson’s Alien 3. There’s a lot of action at the start of the issue; the company suits finding out there might be an alien onboard, the alien arriving and killing, the crew panicking. It’s a slightly new kind of alien, “hatching” fully formed from the human host. There’s eventually a Thing 1982 reference with it. Not sure if it’s the source script or Christmas, but Alien 3’s gorier and, presumably, even slimier than any of the movies.

But then Christmas finds this tempo and rhythm as he rushes through the second act of the series. Starting with Hicks sending Ripley off safely to the next sequel, the issue is beautifully paced. Christmas takes his time on a lot of the action; he’s not conservative with his panels. The action scenes get at least a full page more than they need, including the cliffhanger, which is slightly disappointing just because I didn’t want the issue to end. Still… outstanding work.

I’d read most of Gibson’s Alien 3 before, and I thought I’d been more enthusiastic last time, but getting through this issue, I see I just needed to get to this issue. It’s an outstanding comic; all the herky-jerky storytelling of the first three issues pays off here. The relatively short resolutions throughout this issue—as the alien starts attacking—and the lengthy earlier introductions; somehow, Christmas makes them balance. It’s excellent comics adapting.

Christmas also does another comics adapting device I like; mixing in call-forwards in addition to callbacks. Except, of course, with something like Gibson’s Alien 3, calling forward to the fourth Alien movie hops continuities. The alien here looks a little like the skull alien in Resurrection, but also the original Kenner toy for the first Alien with the predominant skull peering through the membrane. Scary looking thing.

I’d started second-guessing myself on this series. I’m glad I was right the first time. Can’t wait to see how it finishes.

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