Dark Horse Comics will return to the world of Aliens this spring, with a new series that's thematically reminiscent of the 1986 film. Aliens: Dust to Dust, written and illustrated by Gabriel Hardman, tells the story of a 12-year-old boy named Maxon and his mother looking for safety while under attack from the Xenomorphs; similar to the relationship between Ripley and Newt in James Cameron's Aliens.
Here's the official synopsis: "In deep space, the Trono colony on the planet LV-871 finds itself under attack by mysterious and deadly creatures of unknown origin. Emergency evacuations are ordered and shuttles are taking off as the massacre sweeps the colony. All that stands between 12-year-old Maxon and his mom making it to the safety of the spaceport is a horde of Aliens!"
Aliens: Dust to Dust is a four-issue miniseries, slated to debut in April, with variant covers from Carlos D’Anda. CBR spoke with Hardman -- known for his work in both the sci-fi genre and well-known pop culture properties ranging from Planet of the Apes to the upcoming Green Lantern: Earth One -- about Aliens: Dust to Dust, and the personal touch he's bringing to the story.
CBR: Gabriel, how much of an Aliens fan were you going into this series -- the franchise as a whole and the 1986 film?
Gabriel Hardman: I’m a huge fan of the first two films. Alien (1979) is one of my favorite movies of all time, but I actually saw Cameron’s Aliens first. I saw it in a theater when I was 12 and no joke, I think it was one of the most intense experiences I’d had at that point in my life. That intensity holds up too. I don’t think it’s possible to watch Aliens and not be drawn into it every time.
How did you arrive at the story you're telling in Aliens: Dust to Dust? It appears to be a mother-son story at its emotional core.
I was actually inspired to tell the story from the point of view of a 12-year-old boy in large part because that’s the age I was when first exposed to Aliens. But also because I didn’t want to write about Marines or anyone who seems like they could stand up to the Xenomorphs. Kids lack power -- they lack agency. I wanted to throw this boy into extraordinarily scary and difficult circumstances and force him to navigate it. And not tell it from the parent’s perspective, but the kid’s.
Though you haven't written Aliens before, you've drawn Xenomorphs before, in Vampirella/Aliens covers. Artistically, how exciting of a prospect are the visuals inherent in an Aliens series?
My wife Corinna Bechko wrote Vampirella/Aliens and not only did I have fun drawing those covers, I envied how much fun she had writing about that world. Aliens comes preloaded with some of the most striking visuals you find anywhere. I prefer to draw comics stories with a lot of atmosphere – a lot of darkness -- so the idea of telling a story like this has always been appealing. Let’s face it. If it were a bright, happy story, I might not be the guy for the job. Luckily, this is Aliens, so I think I’m a pretty good fit.
Aliens has a long history of inspiring comic book stories -- what do you think it is about the property that lends itself well to comics? Are there any past Aliens comics stories that influenced this story at all?
There have been so many great Aliens books over the years, and seeing different artists’ interpretations of the designs and the world is a large part of it. But the gift of this universe is the ability to tell stories with incredibly strong, scary antagonists while not being saddled with all the work of setting them up and proving how scary they are to the reader. And unlike a lot of other franchises, you can tell a story about any kind of character.
In that way, it’s very open. It doesn’t have to be about a core group of established, ongoing, continuity laden characters. That kind of storytelling has never been very appealing to me. Here I get to tell a story about the most important thing that ever happened to my characters, not just another adventure where they emerge unchanged. Aliens stories just have to be tension-filled, gut wrenching and scary. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.
Aliens: Dust to Dust #1 is scheduled for release on April 24.