“Aliens: Fire and Stone” #3 is a title that I would read no matter what. The engaging story and level of talent Dark Horse Comics have assembled for the “Fire and Stone” series is nothing short of cinematic. It’s the kind of talent that have produced such a great series that leaves you feeling that their Prometheus, Aliens, AvP, and Predator stories are the best films never made. “Aliens: Fire and Stone” #3 is no different. Yet it happens to be the first book that truly captures the dread and impending doom and gloom of the hit films.
Maybe it’s because I read it 10 minutes to 12 am. Possibly because I was tired, a little cold, and ready to sit down with a book I knew I’d enjoy for all the same reasons I’ve enjoyed the previous issues. But opening the digital comic to its first page struck me. The blending of art and story, made seamless by Chris Roberson and Patric Reynolds, overwhelms the senses with how thought-provokingly creepy an image could be. The story, taking place before the events of “Prometheus: Fire and Stone”, continues to flesh out the mystery of the “black goo.” In a story that reveals more of the mysteries of LV-223 (the planet from the film, “Prometheus”), it is written as more of what you’d expect from that series and not an “Aliens” title. With that said, it’s not a misstep by writer, Chris Roberson. We learn more through the exposition of terraforming engineer, Derrick Russell. The “black goo” substance from the film, never fully explained, has shades of its properties finally told to the reader. Fleshing out the dangerous catalyst for so much chaos in the film, we learn that there’s a possibility that the goo may be “some kind of advanced technology” just as much as it could be “naturally occurring.” However, it is clear to Russell that it’s effects serve as a mutagenic accelerant far more dangerous than the ooze the reader is normally presented in comics. The accelerant or “black goo” has elements that raise as many questions as those that have been previously answered.
Roberson’s ability to deliver an Aliens story while not becoming a Prometheus one has never been more apparent than now. Dark Horse Comics have undertaken a massive project in delivering a complete, story arc that delivers on everything a fan would want from one of those famous science-fiction properties. This time around the writers are tasked at creating a shared universe with answers to the Ridley Scott film, “Prometheus.” Not an easy feat to accomplish as there were many important questions left unanswered by the close of the film. Roberson does it while all four series will most likely be best read when all is finished.
Patric Reynolds, paired with the writing of Roberson, creates an authentic experience that one would want from an “Aliens” film. The xenomorphs, eggs, and alien queen are all present yet shrouded in enough of a way that you never get a detailed look at them. Nor would you, as they are gruesome and ugly beings that only an alien queen could love. In choosing to not fully show off the aliens in the book, Reynolds instead turns his attention to detailing just how weird and creepy the effects of the “black goo” have on others. We get to see one of the mining colony survivor’s human body melded into the body of a xenomorph. The sight of such a twisted anatomy immediately brings to mind how eerie the creature mutations from “The Thing” were. And instantly becomes imagery, along with the deformed synthetic Elden from all three other “Fire and Stone” titles, that isn’t easily forgotten.
“Aliens: Fire and Stone” #3 is a serviceable, means to an end that would be too much of a shame to miss (especially for those who are fans of the movie series.) Is it a good, stand-alone title? That’s debatable. While Chris Roberson and Patric Reynolds have not faltered once on this four part series, “Aliens” and “Prometheus” have been the two titles of the Fire and Stone saga that work best only when read with “Predator” and “Alien vs. Predator.” The “Fire and Stone” titles have been a great amount of fun to read and are highly suggested to be scooped up. However, the availability of this series is going to work so much better when collected in a hardcover edition. Overall, Dark Horse Comics have done a great job at reinvigorating their classic sci-fi/horror properties and I eagerly hope that these books are extended well past this mini-series.
“Aliens: Fire and Stone” #3, due out on November 26th, gets three out of five face-huggers.