“Aliens: Fire and Stone” #1 is a comic that will take some readers by surprise; in many ways, it’s the sort of book where the less you know about its plot, the better. Chris Roberson and Patric Reynolds use it to stitch together two different films within the “Aliens” universe, and in doing so, plunge characters from a bad situation to one that’s even worse.
The basic premise behind “Aliens: Fire and Stone” #1 is simple enough; some of the colonists from Acheron (aka LV-426, the moon in “Aliens”) attempted to escape when the Aliens first appeared and rampaged through the colony, killing everyone in sight. Unfortunately, with options severely limited, the colonists end up on another world that could prove to be even more deadly… and that’s before they discover that the cargo brought with them will prove to be less than helpful.
In many ways this first issue is an extended set-up for the rest of the mini-series; we meet the colonists from LV-426, we get to see how some of them were able to escape that initial massacre, and then watch then unknowingly drop into somewhere even worse. Roberson start to flesh the characters out as the issue progresses, and I found myself appreciating that while it’s just little steps at first, it’s enough to start grabbing onto character traits. From a desperate need to live to a cold curiosity, the different things that people do throughout “Aliens: Fire and Stone” #1 all make sense; there aren’t any “this is just to further the plot” moments that so often pepper horror stories. Plus, there’s also the tie-in to another film within “Aliens: Fire and Stone” which might not be evident at first, although you can put the pieces together quickly if you’re paying attention. It’s a surprising jump between properties that I wouldn’t have expected to see this early into the mini-series, but if anything it makes me that much more intrigued with where it’s going.
Reynolds and Dave Stewart present a dark, muddy, dreary, claustrophobic world in the form of LV-426, then deliberately brighten and expand the setting once the characters reach their destination. It’s a nice attention to setting that helps set the tone for what’s to come. It’s funny, because with Reynolds’ art it’s all of the little details that grab my attention. When he zooms in on Russell’s eyes as he watches the Aliens attack, for instance, there’s so much depth in that gaze; you can see his fascination building even before you get to Roberson’s narration. The style of Reynolds’ art is a blocky-yet-detailed look, reminding me a bit of some early Gene Ha art before he went hyper-thin on his ink lines. It’s a reassuring, almost humanistic look to the art that is pleasing.
“Aliens: Fire and Stone” #1 is an above-average start to the revitalization of the “Aliens” license, one that has me interested in the nasty little xenomorphs for the first time in quite a while. If Roberson and Reynolds can keep this up, I’ll be quite pleased. And heck, it’s made me interested enough to check out all of the other “Fire and Stone” mini-series also en route. That’s not bad for a single issue. Not bad at all.