Nowhere is safe from the Xenomorph, not even a canceled script will stay dead. Prepare for scares as we dive into the first issue of William Gibson’s Alien 3 published by Dark Horse. Since its original release, Alien 3 has divided fans and critics alike with its wholly unique setting and take on the franchise but long before Sigourney Weaver shaved her head or any sets were constructed the third entry into the Alien franchise went through many changes and rebirths.
Originally penned in 1987 and followed up with a second draft the next year, William Gibson wrote the first of the ten legendary scripts never to be produced for the final Alien 3. Ultimately both iterations of Gibson’s screenplay were turned down by the studio, and the next version came from Eric Red. Each iteration brought in new mythology to the franchise that was then picked apart and used to create the final melange of a movie that we ended up with. I remember hearing about this script decades ago and wondering what it would have turned out like and this first issue goes far beyond my naive expectations and shows signs of developing into its own worthy entry to the Xenoverse series.
For fans of the Alien series, seeing the story starting up where Aliens left off, Hicks, Ripley and Newt, the survivors from the LV-426 disaster, are finally given a dignified conclusion, instead of the shockingly abrupt send-offs that they undeservingly received in the final film. No matter what happens over the course of the series it really cannot be any worse than their off-camera deaths.
The artwork has a level of attainable realism that fits the late eighties / early nineties retro-futurism of the script’s writing perfectly. The smooth lines of the location’s interiors feel more like the over clean Paul Riser Aliens space office than Yaphet Kotto’s Alien filthy space truck. While all the art based on existing people is spot-on, the original character’s faces are occasionally interchangeable or unrecognizable with dips in quality leading to faceless mannequins making up the backgrounds.
What happens in the first issue feels like the start of something excellent but leaves me wanting more and this is the main problem with chopping up a completed script into bite-sized volumes. A single issue doesn’t work as its own complete story and makes me want to read the full graphic novel. This is not a criticism of the art or story but an unfortunate circumstance of the delivery method. What is presented is mostly excellent but it may be worth holding out for the entire series to be completed for a satisfactory conclusion to the newest third entry.