Comic Review: Alien: Bloodlines (Vol. 1)

Alien: Bloodlines Vol. 1 (2021) Review

When suddenly, Aliens!

Alien Vol. 1: Bloodlines is a six-part comic series released in 2021 and marks the Alien franchise’s debut collection under the Marvel Comics banner.

  • Release: 2021
  • Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
  • Illustrator: Salvador Larroca
  • Colorist: Guru-eFX
  • Lettering: Clayton Cowles
  • Editing: Jake Thomas & Darren Shan

Story

Company man and ex-marine Gabriel Cruz is retiring from his position as Head of Security aboard the Epsilon Orbital Research and Development Station, a space station owned and operated by the morally ambiguous Weyland-Yutani corporation and to the surprise of absolutely no one, is secretly used for biological experiments involving xenomorphs – a breed of hostile and highly dangerous organisms. Cruz suffers from PTSD after a previous encounter with xenomorphs that left him the sole survivor of his Colonial Marine squad.

Stepping down from his position at Epsilon Station and returning to Earth, Cruz attempts to reconnect with his estranged son, Danny, who is secretly involved with an anti Weyland-Yutani organization. After stealing his father’s access credentials Danny and his friends decide to raid Epsilon station to ‘expose’ Weyland-Yutani operations and end up releasing a whole bunch of xenomorphs that were being used as test subjects.

After Epsilon station becomes overrun, the company sends Cruz and two expendable colonial marines to capture and retrieve one specimen in particular, the ‘Alpha’, a xenomorph variant that is running loose aboard the station.

Doth thy Xeno in thine lands betwixt

Review

Oh boy, it’s not very good, at least where the story’s concerned. From the get-go the series opens with a melodramatic description of a nonsense dream scene where we see the first indication as to the quality we can expect of the rest of the story. This scene also features a voluptuous xenomorph ‘woman’ straight off the cover of Vogue, because it’s not objectifying if she’s technically an alien right? It serves no other purpose in the series than an obvious marketing ploy, damned be integrity.

It features a lot of poorly done twists and turns just for the sake of it, it must be in the contract when you take on creating something in this franchise that you must include x amount of betrayals and x amount of ‘I’m actually the bad guy!’ moments. This, coupled with the fact that the writer can’t go five minutes without utilizing plot devices that have already been explored numerous times over within the franchise makes for a generic, eye-rolling experience.

You can expect this story stars a group of confident Colonial Marines who are very quickly proven otherwise, just like in the movies, remember? One of the main characters is a Bishop-model android (played by Lance Henriksen in Aliens: Colonial Marines), just like in the movies, remember? One character turns out to be an android with delusions of grandeur, just like in the movies, remember? They even included a dubious, possibly xeno-infected cat, just like in the movies, remember?

At a crucial point the story literally goes full Asimov with the robot laws out of nowhere, conveniently pulling out the: ‘robots can’t harm people, it’s against their programming’ spiel in a display of lousy writing. It’s a scene which makes no sense as not only are there references to combat synths in the story, which is a known thing in the Alien universe, there’s also another main character android but these rules don’t apply to that one and actually by the end of the novel we’ll do away this sentiment entirely and have the Bishop-droid shoot someone because we need to reach our Deus Ex Machina quota.

If I had one word to describe the story: it would be stupid, and that would be an understatement. Luckily, I’ve got a bunch more such as bland, forgettable, uninspired, and generic. The storyline lacks any depth or emotional weight, I never once cared for the father/son dynamic between Gabriel and Danny as they only ever interact once throughout the entire story, the rest of the characters aren’t worth mentioning.

The art style is decent in some places but overall I wasn’t a huge fan. You’ll spend a lot of time looking at bland and uncanny-looking humans and oddly proportioned xenomorphs. The art style alone isn’t anywhere close enough to carry this collection. The best thing about this series so far is the chapter cover art from InHyuk Lee.

Luckily enough my expectations weren’t too high for Alien Vol. 1: Bloodlines to begin with, I decided to check it out as it was a Aliens comic under none other than Marvel themselves, a lesson learned if nothing else. It’s not the worst thing I’ve read, it’s not even the worst thing I’ve experienced from the Alien franchise itself (*cough, Bischoff’s novel with the saxophone), overall it’s an insufferably mediocre comic series I’ll forget about in a week and one that I couldn’t recommend for anyone looking for a worthwhile experience, Alien fan or not.

~Giuseppe Gillespie April 2022

Verdict:

Rating: 3 out of 10.

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