Dark Horse Comics “Aliens” chapter is ending and much like the final issue of “Prometheus” it ends with a decided bang and whimper. The “Fire and Stone” saga has been one of this year’s best comic book mini-series, mainly due to the life the writers brought to it. Writer Chris Roberson and artist Patric Reynolds, with the fourth and final issue of “Aliens”, have delivered their best.
“Aliens” has been decidedly more of a survival story than of horror and the final issue does not change that. “Aliens” has also been one of the most important stories for Dark Horse’s massive undertaking as it has served as the catalyst for all the events taking place in “Prometheus”, “Predator”, and “Alien vs. Predator.” The pieces of the Tarantino-esque “Fire and Stone” saga truly take shape with Roberson and Reynolds final issue. The story focuses completely on Russell, the terraforming engineer and the conclusion to his journey through the strange world of LV-223. He is one of the last remaining survivors of the Hadley’s Hope and has taken refuge in a cave perched high atop a mountain. While surviving there for weeks, he grows obsessed with the scientific findings left their from a previous visitor (we’re left assuming this was from the character of Elizabeth Shaw from the film “Prometheus.”) Russell hears the cries of the remaining survivors being slaughtered down below by tenacious xenomorphs and a mutated version of Cale, a Weyland-Yutani prospector, grateful that for whatever reason he’s “protected” by the cave. He eventually journeys back to the surface to get fruit, but comes into contact with Cale. Illustrating the strange effects of the black goo, Cale was one of the first exposed and transformed into a half human/ half xenomorph. This illuminates more of the accelerant’s properties and when Russell manages to climb back to the cave we are given more definitive answers what exactly it is. While “Prometheus: Fire and Stone” have also answered questions regarding the black goo accelerant that was first introduced in the film, it’s “Aliens: Fire and Stone” that gives it meaning in a way that connects all the stories together. In Russell’s weeks of research and experiments (and a cave filled with his manic scrawlings) it is understood that the black goo “affects plants, animals, humans, anything organic and resequences their genes.” Russell also arrives at the hypothesis that if the black goo were to be filtered through a construct such as an android it would not mutate someone as it did to Cale. As long as the black goo is not directly administered to someone, the properties of it could very well be used to cure cancer. This whole sequence works as a magnificent nod and wink towards the tragic character of Elden, whom we meet in “Prometheus” and follow through “Alien vs. Predator.” Chris Roberson’s Russell pays direct homage to “Castaway” and in full Tom Hanks mode has grown an unkempt beard and has developed a friendship with a salvaged probe left by Shaw. Patric Reynolds delivers his best work yet with panel after panel of a lush haziness that only adds to Roberson’s well-paced and reflective mystery.
Perhaps the most defining aspect of Roberson and Reynolds final issue of “Aliens” is just how much of a human story it is. Roberson writes Russell as a man changed from his experience of isolation. His desperation, fear, and curiosity connects in a real way. Roberson’s pairing with artist Patric Reynolds have left this particular chapter of the “Aliens” mythology with a unique stamp that leaves it in a far different place than ever before. “Aliens: Fire and Stone” issue #4 is an excellent conclusion to a great series. The concluding chapter has raised the “Aliens” corner of the “Fire and Stone” saga to great heights and upon its final page deserves a much deserved round of applause.
“Aliens: Fire and Stone” issue #4 gets five out of five stars!
Aliens: Fire and Stone #4
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Patric Reynolds
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: David Palumbo
Genre: Action/Adventure, Science-Fiction
Publication Date: December 24, 2014
Format: FC, 32 pages; Miniseries
UPC: 7 61568 22317 0 00411