Alien #1 (2021) is published by Marvel Comics, written by Phillip K. Johnson, illustrated by Salvador Larroca, colored by Guru eFX, and lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles. A now-retired installation security chief, Gabriel Cruz, is haunted by black nightmares. Nightmares that come from witnessing unspeakable horrors. Cruz is a survivor, but he knows they’re searching for him.
Cruz opens Alien #1 by discussing one of his most recent nightmares with a Bishop android unit, which is being used as a therapist on the Epsilon Orbital Research and Development Station. At the end of the session, Cruz is encouraged to continue his sessions with Bishop once Cruz lands on earth, where he plans to meet with his estranged son in the hopes of reconciling.
Family is not so cleanly navigated, however, and even while Cruz plans to come clean about everything he saw during his tour with the Weyland-Yutani corporation, his son rejects him. Not before stealing his Fathers corporate access ID, he plans to take a group of activists up to the space station to sabotage their intelligence and data servers.
Instead, what they find where the servers should be, is so much worse.
Johnson wrote circles around this opening issue. Having been a fan of the franchise for a long time, I was greeted with a sense of something familiar as I read it. Johnson captures this lingering feeling of dread and suspense that runs through the issue.
There is a brilliant opening narrative from Cruz’s perspective talking about the darkness in his dreams that also closes the issue. The way Johnson expresses this haunting experience really engages you and immediately sets the tone for the issue.
This is paired with a flashback sequence where a soldier who’s encased in a Xenomorph cocoon begs for his life. The full story sends a real pang of dread and empathy coursing through your veins.
Then you have the art from Larroca. Larroca’s visuals are harrowing when he gets the chance to unleash the nightmare fuel, as he captures all that is frightening and powerful about the Xenomorphs. There is a beautiful two-page spread of a group of Xenomorphs crawling over one another like a living floor. The image conjures up concept designs from the original visual artist H. R. Giger, and again, the tone for his initial issue set and the bar raised quite high.
The flashback scenes during Cruz’s experiences as a soldier also are truly petrifying. We see a group of soldiers encased in a Xenomorph cocoon during one sequence, trapped and hopeless. The images that Larroca has created immediately give you that embodiment of fear that the Aliens franchise thrives on.
Guru eFX then layers the images with a cold dark palette, and everything is set in motion. What is fantastic about the colorwork, though, is that it’s not just black. It’s reflectively black. As Guru eFX captures the material of the aliens as an organic material that is often secreted and moist, allowing light to bounce off of its surface.
The lettering work from Cowles is on point. The placement of the dialogue keeps the issue flowing. The style of the dialogue is also engaging and unique as you dive further through the pages.
All in all, I was wildly impressed with this first issue, and while my heart was in my throat the whole time, I thoroughly enjoyed this debut introduction into the world of the Xenomorphs for Marvel. Johnson and his creative team have brought their A-game and created a premier issue worthy of noting.
Alien #1 (2021) is available now wherever comics are sold.
Alien #1 (2021)
All in all, I was wildly impressed with this first issue, and while my heart was in my throat the whole time, I thoroughly enjoyed this debut introduction into the world of the Xenomorphs for Marvel. Johnson and his creative team have brought their A game and created a premier issue worthy of taking note of.
Aaron is a contributing writer at But Why Tho, serving as a reviewer for TV and Film. He is also the co-host and social media manager of the Nerds Social Club podcast.
Hailing originally from England, and after some lengthy questing, he’s currently set up shop in Pennsylvania. He spends his days reading comics, podcasting, and being attacked by his small offspring.