These stories follow on from the second film, Aliens. The first two stories, Outbreak and Nightmare Asylum, tell the ongoing adventures of Newt and Hicks, while Ripley turns up for the third main story, Female War.
Unfortunately, once Alien 3 was released further adventures for Newt and Hicks were obviously out of the question. So Dark Horse decided to “fix” the problem by rereleasing the books and changing the names of the protagonists to Billie and Wilks, who just happened to have had all the same adventures as Newt and Hicks – unfortunately this volume collects those edited versions.
It’s a very clumsy solution, and it creates a feeling of unreality throughout the book, because it’s always at the back of your mind that the characters are not really who they say they are – not least when they meet up with Ripley and she talks about their special bond! I realise that Dark Horse have to go with the wishes of the licensors, but as a reader I can’t help thinking it wasn’t really worth all that trouble just to keep Alien 3 in continuity.
The stories themselves are good, giving us what we always expected from the Aliens sequels and only just about got at the end of the fourth – the aliens arriving on Earth. The results are as devastating as might be expected.
One strange thing about the aliens in the comics is that they are demonstrated to commmunicate telepathically, even across interstellar distances. I don’t think that’s something you can see in the movies, but it does give the writers the opportunity to develop plotlines more complex than “man finds bug, bug stomps man”.
Lastly, one caption in the book may be of interest to some critics of AVP2: “We didn’t see the underlying pattern behind their evolutionary process – the way every facet of their existence was geared toward propagation. The queens matured at whatever rate their survival dictated.” That’s why the aliens in AVP2 don’t hang about inside their hosts – there isn’t time.
Aliens Omnibus Volume 1, Mark Verheiden et al, Dark Horse, tpb, 384pp.