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On My History With Aliens

alien3_novelizationThe Aliens franchise is a strange one for me. I’ve realized in recent years that it is honestly one of my absolute favorites, for whatever reason(s)–going back to the novels that so grabbed me as a kid, despite the horror elements–or perhaps because of them.

As my memory currently stands, I’d found a copy of Alien3–the novelization by Alan Dean Foster. After reading that and knowing it was based on a movie, I wanted to see the movie. Long story short, despite misgivings, I was allowed to rent and watch it–I credit it as my first "allowed" R-rated film.

Of course, this was the THIRD film, and there were two others. And being the reader that I was, I got into the other novelizations and films. I distinctly recall the sense of deja-vu in reading the novelization of Alien…I’m pretty certain to this day that I had actually read that some time before, never having a clue that it had anything at all to do with some movie. Of course I read it again having context of it being a movie…though I think at the time I thought the movie was based on the book rather than the other way around.

aliens_bantam_spectra_runI eventually got into the Aliens novels, then published by Bantam Spectra, based on the Dark Horse comics. These were where the non-film stories most stand out to me: the original "trilogy," or first three series from Dark Horse. In these, the Alien gets to Earth, where predictably it escapes confinement and the Earth is ultimately lost. Two survivors (based on Hicks and Newt) wind up on a couple adventures, eventually team up with Ripley (explained as an android with the original’s memories, accounting for the events of Alien 3) and left on a hopeful if ambiguous note.

avp_deadliest_heroillustratedThen further stories picked up some two decades after this, and seemed to maintain a certain sort of loose continuity–at least in the novels; though regardless, the stories were entertaining enough to read, even though none of them stood up against the immensity of the first three-parter. There were also several crossing the Aliens with Predator, which also led me to the Predator films.

By then, I’d been aware of both franchises and their crossing thanks to Hero Illustrated and such with hype over Aliens vs. Predator: Deadliest of the Species. avp_three_world_war_0002But it was the novels that I preferred, having little interest at the time in the actual comics, given it was years before "anything and everything" could be relatively simply located–and for bargain prices–online, and further before everything was collected and at least available to be READ if not owned in original single issues.

In the last several years, I’ve "gotten back into" Aliens, with Titan Books now having the license, and putting out some new editions and original stories and such, along with newer editions of the packaging for the films on home media, and new (but too-expensive) toys.

And of course, there have been the comics. There was AVP: Three World War, I believe standing as its own story with not much to do with the films, but utilizing the logo/branding from the AVP films. There was another Aliens series that I’m sure I at least had the first issue, but not sure if I followed through with the series in general.

lifeanddeath_predatorIn 2014, there was the mega-arc Fire and Stone, with 4-issue mini-series each for Prometheus, Aliens, Predator, and AVP that tied together into the larger overall story.

Last year we had the start of a new major Aliens series in Defiance–offhand, I think the longest singular Aliens series (Aliens vs. Predator: Deadliest of the Species was 12 issues, I believe, but that wasn’t a singular-property series).

Last year also saw the start of a new mega-arc Life and Death, which was "in the tradition of Fire and Stone" with 4-issue minis for each of the four brands, collectively telling one larger overall arc.

Despite both Defiance and Life and Death starting last year, I got behind on READING, so it was only in April–right after the final chapter of Life and Death hit–that I carved out several hours and read that story cycle straight through–lifeanddeath_aliensall 17 chapters–in one day. I also re-read the Defiance issues I’d read, and continued on, though those had a slight delay with real-life issues going on, and I finished catching up a week or so ago.

There’s a new Predator mini that’s started that looks like it builds on continuity established over the years in the Dark Horse series, which makes it all the more appealing to me, as I can go back and read (finally) older stories for enhanced understanding/context.

I posted photos of my Aliens "bookshelf" collection several weeks ago and more recently found a couple figures from the 1990s toy line. A new book anthology Aliens: Bug Hunt was recently released and has been my current "reading project" on lunches at work.

lifeanddeath_predatorWhich all sorta converges this weekend with the release of the new Ridley Scott-helmed film Alien: Covenant. To my understanding, this is a "sequel" of sorts to 2012’s Prometheus which was itself a quasi-prequel to Alien (in that it’s in the same universe and took place prior to the events of the original Alien film). Given the use of Alien back in the title itself, I’m definitely expecting to see the eponymous creature in this one. I’m also looking forward to the film in general as (expectationally) my first theatrical Scott Alien film (though I’ve seen Alien Resurrection, AVP, AVP Requiem, and Prometheus during their theatrical runs).

Perhaps–for me–one of the great things with the Aliens (and Predator) stuff (whether as novels or comics) is that there are so many stories to tell, as well as so many iterations ofsuperman_aliens_ad a formula. The basic elements are there, one can generally have accurate expectations going into a story–but there doesn’t even HAVE TO BE a singular, linear "continuity." The creatures work in stories on their own, or even interacting with other franchises. To me, one of the best of those is the Superman/Aliens crossover, as that drew directly from and even had lasting repercussions within the Superman titles. (And on the matter of lasting repercussions, I believe the Aliens crossover with WildC.A.T.s was the finale of that series and a sort of inciting incident that moved us from Stormwatch to The Authority).

But while a larger story can be found, it seems like if you know the "basics" of the property, you can pretty much read whatever, whenever, without missing out. And the model for the comics lifeanddeath_prometheushas apparently always been the "limited series"–I don’t believe there’s ever been an "ongoing" series with any intention or expectation of exceeding 12 issues; with a number of shorter serialized stories, a "prestige format" 2-issue series, or 4 to 6 issues for a series. And these are finite and collected–largely–in Dark Horse‘s Omnibus line.

It’s also far more achievable to pursue a "complete" collection of Aliens comics than characters that have been around longer, and in ongoing series and crossovers and minis and such all around.

For now–the new Alien film. With plenty of new material to read, and loads to re-read, and old material to read for the first time. It seems like a great time to be "into" the franchise(s) and such with so much content readily available–new and old–to go through!

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