Script: Mark Verheiden
Art: Sam Kieth
Colours: Dark Horse Digital
Lettering: Willie Schubert
Cover illustration: John Bolton
Originally titled Earth War, this was changed to Female War after Alien3 was released. The alterations in Female War are particularly shoddy as mentioned in the Outbreak review; the major alteration was to remove two pages in which Newt confronts Ripley about abandoning her.
Female War is the conclusion of the trilogy. It starts by revealing the story behind Ripley’s disappearance. Ripley also reveals that she has experienced visions revealing the location of the Alien Queen Mother, the grand ruler of the race. These visions are due to a psychic link between them. Together with Wilks and Billie a plan is hatched to abduct the Queen Mother, place her in a nuclear weapons stockpile on Earth to be detonated when the Queen Mother attracts as many Aliens as possible. Complications arise as Billie attempts to save a lost child on earth.
Where to start? This book polarizes opinion, you either like it or hate it, I am one of the latter. I was still in secondary school when these books were released and can still remember the excitement I had at the end of Nightmare Asylum, Ripley was back and ready kick some ass! After much patient waiting (for a teenager) I bought and tore into Earth War… and part of my childhood died! OK, I am being a bit melodramatic but that’s how it felt at the time. I write this so perhaps you can understand why I have such an issue with this book, I still fail to understand how Dark Horse released such a lackluster conclusion to an otherwise decent series, but unfortunately this is a recurring theme with some of the later titles.
What little plot there is has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, the story literally makes no sense; when I re-read it, I was amazed just how bad crucial plot points were. Mankind’s survival is based around a vision Ripley has, telling her the exact location of the Aliens Queen Mother. But wait…Ripley claims the vision she experiences is the complete distress call received by the Nostromo, however, this transmission is described in the film Alien (1979) as a simple acoustical beacon that repeats itself and nobody experiences any psychic visions in or near the Alien derelict in the film so why now?
This raises another issue with the plot; an entire mission is put together just because Ripley has had a vision! The fact that Nobody in authority raises any concerns or questions stretches credulity to its limit, the only person who raises this concern is Wilks who is told ‘it’s more than a dream she’s real’ and that’s it!!! The rest of the story is just as bad: Ripley’s flashback with her return to the derelict, the new marine characters and the storyline of Billy rescuing the girl on Earth are pretty much weaker, diluted, carbon copies of the Aliens (1986) movie.
It’s now time to deal with the elephant in the room, the artwork. Like many of the readers of the series I was blown away by the artwork in the second volume and was seriously disappointed by Sam Keith’s artwork. I did not like his depiction of any of the main characters. Ripley looks like a gin-soaked 1930’s mum of ten, complete with saggy tits and arse, flaunted constantly as she wears some sort of green leotard throughout the story. Wilks has lost his horrifically acid scarred face, now looking like he’s suffering a slight allergic reaction causing a red rash! While we are on the subject, the highly acidic blood of the Aliens is forgotten as characters blow aliens apart at close range, even directly overhead themselves and suffer no ill effect. This is especially surprising as the Marines don’t wear body armour of any shape, opting for t-shirts and vests instead!
The reason I am so exasperated about the artwork is that it does actually look good at times; only to jarring switch to art that looks like a nine year old has had a go! I carry on about this because I find its inconsistent quality really detracts from the piss-poor story I’m trying to care about.
So there we have it; rant over. Earth War/Female War is the appalling conclusion to the first trilogy of Alien books. The only reason I can imagine that this was allowed to happen was the Dark Horse was rushing to release the last book, but I don’t even rate this as a decent excuse. I would not recommend this book to anyone unless they had suffered a severe brain injury or were a seriously serious, serious fan of the Alien series and even then it would just probably make them angry.