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Aliens / Vampirella #1

Review by Paul Bowler

When it comes to attention grabbing comic book titles, Aliens / Vampirella #1 with its eye catching cover by Gabriel Hardman, instantly screams out to be read if you are a fan of either Vampirella or the Aliens franchise. Humans have set up a base on Mars, where they have discovered an ancient mystery underground. Vampirella has been sent to help the crew investigate, but it soon becomes apparent monstrous creatures await them in the shadows deep below the surface, horrors that should never have been disturbed…

Aliens / Vampirella #1, is a brand new six part series from Dynamite, by writer Corinna Bechko, featuring art by Javier Garcia-Miranda, and colors by In LIGHT Studios, certainly has a very interesting premise.

There is a lot of potential here; the tantalizing idea of having a character like Vampirella squaring off against the acid-blooded Xenomorphs on Mars is certainly appealing. Corinna Bechko gets things off to a good start with a fittingly blood-drenched, acid-splattering, flashback that quickly established past events. From here, the pace slows somewhat as we flash-forward to Vamperilla’s arrival on Mars, where she meets the crew of Mars Base One, and learns that the base they’ve found beneath the surface could well be tens of thousands of years old.

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The familiar themes of the Aliens franchise are all present and correct, there’s a group of humans on a distant world, lots of dark spooky corridors to wander down, and even a chamber full of rather gooey looking eggs. Yes, you know the drill. While it ticks all the boxes, this issue first doesn’t really do anything new with these tried-and-trusted themes. Sure, it sets the scene well enough, but even the crew seem indistinguishable from what we’ve seen many times before, and Vampirella gets no real chance to put her abilities to much use either.

Javier Garcia-Miranda’s art is really good, all the characters are well rendered, and Vampirella looks stunning. However, it’s the flashback at the beginning where Javier Garcia-Miranda’s art really stands out, as we witness the full savagery of the Xenomorph in action. The detail in these pages is phenomenal, and the raw power and brutality of Alien is captured perfectly. Once we flash-forward to the Mars base its all cool metallic corridors, with some wandering around, before Vampirella and the team descends into the underground base where dark shadows, long-dead corpses encased in the walls, and a slimy Alien egg chamber await them. Colorist In LIGHT Studios really shines here in these underground scenes, where the blackness is punctuated by flickering torch beams, and cool blue and green hues heighten the tension even further

Fortunately, after a rather mundane mid-section, this first issue gradually builds to a blood-splattered climax. Corinna Bechko uses some ingenious plot twists here, particularly an unsettling face hugger experience / vision that provides us with further clues about what happened, and the closing moments are both shockingly visceral and violent.

Vampirella fighting the Xenomorphs is an uncanny mash-up of themes and ideas. The Aliens franchise has always had strong female lead characters, so Vampirella is a perfect choice to battle the Xenomorphs. Although Aliens / Vampirella #1 gets a bit bogged down with too much exposition initially, it does begin to measure up to the potential of its premise towards the end of the issue. Corinna Bechko and Javier Garcia-Miranda have done a great job with issue #1, but future issues of this Dynamite mini-series will need to be a bit less formulaic where the Aliens are concerned and make a lot more use of Vampirella if it is to really impress.