Alien #4 is published by Marvel Comics, written by Declan Shalvey, art by Andrea Broccardo, colors by Tríona Farrell and Ruth Redmond, and letters by Clayton Cowles. The few survivors left make desperate plans to survive as dozen Xenomorphs approach the base.
This series has been unrelenting but repeatedly finds new ways to elevate the horror. They are still reeling from the explosive third issue, Alien #4 starts to rip families apart. While safety has been impossible, it has always felt like the family unit might just make it. This issue puts that to the test in the most extreme way possible. The comic strangely separated the rest of the humans from the soldiers, rapidly executing them and exploding through their chests. Even as they move, something that could easily have been forgotten about changes the entire face of the whole series. Batya, the mother, and the person taking care of the base, generally has a secret that takes the sci-fi franchise to a different level. That leads to a grotesque tragedy I would never have assumed Shalvey could reach before revealing an even bigger surprise. We are hit with multiple massive shots all at the same time. The issue moves at full speed but is still unassailably disturbing and frightening.
The characters in this Alien series have always been drowned out slightly due to everything happening outside and around the base. This chapter takes the time to examine the relationships and family dynamics. You don’t get heart-to-heart; this isn’t the location or the book. Everyone is abrupt and slightly mean to each other and then regrets it once that person is gone. This is a book about revelations, which leads to a lot of dialogue. But I was hanging off every word with what was coming to light. There are a few periods where I felt that some of Batya’s pleas were becoming repetitive. But with what she is going through, presented further in the issue itself, it is understandable not to be as coherent. And nothing said seems out of character. This is also a huge issue for Zasha, Batya’s daughter. She has been adventurous in early issues, but Alien #4 puts her through hell. The horror of the issue can mask the brutal emotion until you finish reading, and then the magnitude of what just happened hits.
The art is perhaps the finest of any of the issues so far. There is a mixture of vulnerability and ferocity in this comic. Even at the worst moment of a character’s life, it isn’t approached delicately. The horror of the situation sticks out more than anything. Broccardo has embraced the challenge of applying gore and danger to every page. The slow but sure advance of the army of Xenomorphs is executed superbly, practically achieved through silence. We have seen the early stages of something different in this comic, a design that has not been seen before in this franchise but is displayed in its full majesty by the end of the issue. It’s big, imposing, and awesome. That is then leapfrogged by a warped, completely unexpected change for a character that alters my perception of them. The detail in all of this is jaw-dropping.
The colors are one of the most pivotal aspects of some of the new elements of the Alien franchise. It’s a switch that is stark to look at and looks superb through Farrell’s palette. And seeing so much of one shade throughout this series as a whole means that it is more striking when you see the opposite. The lettering is easy to read, even when there is a lot of dialogue. And in those periods of newar silence, all that is seen is the SFX, which perfectly captures those spine-chilling noises the xenomorphs make.
Alien #4 eviscerates the last suggestions of hope and safety. It expands on impending events, with bigger shocks, more enemies, and bloodier deaths. But the issue as a whole changes how it wants to inflict hurt. It reaches new depths and breaks hearts beyond comprehension. And it is never possible to think you have just seen the most shocking page within this Alien series because something worse is just around the corner.
Alien #4 eviscerates the last suggestions of hope and safety. It expands on impending events, with bigger shocks, more enemies, and bloodier deaths.