Well I’m half way through the Omnibus series now, so what are my impressions?
Like every series there are the good, the ok and the awful.
I’m surprised that there are far more decent stories than I remember and the best ones really are good, re-reading for reviews has really made me appreciate them more. Part of me is disappointed that numerous good ideas have not been developed and I feel like a school teacher writing ‘could do better’ constantly.
I suppose this is due to when these comics were released, that they were aimed predominantly at teenaged boys, as I was at the time, who would not be interested in deep interesting stories caring only for guts, guns and mayhem. But the best stories in the series have at least captured some of the essence of the films through decent storylines, so the publishers do get it right on occasion. The Aliens series has always been about horror, but horror does not equal gore. The first Alien was a true horror film and we saw very little real gore which made it all the more terrifying.
The comics should be a testing-ground for new ideas and to expand the universe, whilst remaining true to the original films. Whilst this has been attempted, sometimes effectively, a lot of the time it seems too timid and I wonder if it is the writers or editors who are too conservative or fearful of a backlash to commit fully to pushing any boundaries.
Perhaps the most disappointing for me was the Colonial Marines series. In theory I believe this could, and should, be a winning idea and one that could expand the universe. Part of the problem is the insistence that it has to feature the Aliens from the start. Why not have the series build on a few different types of missions/situations which eventually lead to a final confrontation with the Aliens? Imagine a cross between Star Trek, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, Space: Above and Beyond and Starship Troopers, though the last two were obviously heavily influenced by Aliens (1986) anyway.
These issues do not seem to be so evident in the recent releases, plots and characters are more developed; featuring more original ideas and perhaps this says more about the comics industry and its standing and status as a medium at the current time.
Artwork is equally frustrating; most of these titles were released during a time when artwork in comics was changing, less cartoony and more art.
This is particularly evident within this series as traditional cartoon artwork is too bright and clear for the Aliens universe. Just imagine the Aliens films in vivid well-lit environments like a Star Trek set, it wouldn’t work, we’d all be laughing at the silly rubber suits and the fact you can see the zipper. Admittedly these environments do exist in the films, the crew quarters of the Nostromo or the Sulaco, but the Aliens exist in the shadows preferring only to come out at night, mostly…. If we think of the aesthetic of the films it is based on realistic, poorly lit, working, industrial environments from engine rooms to reactors, with grease and rust and dripping pipes everywhere, but this is rarely reflected in the artwork, so far.
Ok enough ranting on with the reviews…..