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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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Aliens Day 2017

It’s interesting to see the various "days" that folks have come up with. Seems like there’s something for every day of the year. Where once there were "Hallmark Holidays," now even those would be prestigious rarities by comparison.

That said, one of the ones that I can actually appreciate is Aliens Day. April 26th…or 4/26. As in LV-426, the planetoid with the colony that the Colonial Marines and Ripley went (back) to in the film Aliens all those years back.

And as one of my all-time favorite franchises, and not having properly observed it last year in its inaugural outing, I figured I’d dedicate a post to it this year.

Yet, I don’t have anything lengthy or long-winded; I could ramble about my thoughts on the films, the books, etc; some memories tied up in stuff around obtaining various pieces of my collection, but I don’t actually have the time or patience at present.

SO, in lieu of lots of words, I’ll let some photos do most of the "talking."

Aliens Day 2017…here is my Aliens collection.

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The films. Well, the Blu-Ray editions, anyway–once upon a time, I had the Aliens Quadrilogy dvd box set–the 9-foot-long thing with all those discs and such. I also had all the single films on dvd, with a couple different editions of Alien and Aliens. I’ve since bought a pale imitation of the Quadrilogy dvd–bare-bones films–BUT that one came with a code for a digital copy, giving me a digital set of the first four films.

And over the past year and a half or so with the Anniversary Edition releases for the first two, I’ve bought those for the bonus (physical) content.

I also lump the Predator franchise in here…I find that via the Aliens vs. Predator and AvP stuff, the two are solidly linked, and the Predator stuff just works well partnered with the Aliens stuff.

aliens_day_2017_b

I believe I have the entire run of ’90s novels, each adapting one of Dark Horse Comics‘ mini-series. About 12 years ago, there were several more books released directly from the publisher under a now-defunct imprint. And of course, there were the movie novelizations. More recently, Titan Books has been putting out new stuff such as a trilogy of Alien novels set between the original Alien film and Aliens.

aliens_day_2017_c

Titan also put out a newer trilogy "crossing" franchises–Predator, Alien, and Alien vs. Predator, set in a further future, and set the stage for what could be some very interesting universe-building should further novels be produced. There’s also a newer anthology of short stories, and a number of other books and products outside the Titan well.

aliens_day_2017_f

Of course, there are the comics–which I have in multiple formats. I’m loving the oversized hardcovers. There are the original collected volumes. We recently got a collection of Dark Horse‘s collaborations with DC on the Aliens stuff. The excellent Omnibus series encompassing Aliens, Aliens vs. Predator, and Predator itself.

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Then there are the toys/figurines/etc. Funko Pop figures, regular and oversized; Minimates, Neca, Funko Mystery Mini figures, and even a "cute" plush happy-looking face-hugger.

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In trying to get a bunch of the Alien creature from the Mystery Minis line, I wound up with far more Predators–the standard, the "wounded" variant, and the extra-rare translucent "invisible" variant. I eventually snagged the "full-size" standard Pop figure.


I’m also very much looking forward to the new movie due out in about three weeks, and to the concluding chapter of the mega-arc Life and Death that’s due out this week.

I’ve seen a number of other toys/figures I’d like, but they tend to be very much on the far-too-expensive side for me, especially where life is right now.

I do imagine a re-watch marathon may be in the near-future for me, as well as having plenty of reading yet to go, having been back through or just through (in the case of the newer releases) some dozen or so of the novels in the last year-plus.

aliens_day_2017_g_blogtrailer

Final Haul of 2016

New Year’s Eve, I made a quick trip to the old comic shop to pick up a few things. I also stopped at a Books-A-Million to snag something for a friend, and wound up getting a couple things for myself while I was there. These are the highlights–minus thirty-three 20-cent issues.

final_haul_2016a

Lotta Aliens stuff. Well, and Predator. And the mashing together of the properties. In short, awesomeness. I’m loving these new Titan volumes collecting the classic Dark Horse Novels books. Even though I have the originals, I’ve been getting these for the completeness. I’ve been realizing the last year-plus that Aliens (and related) properties are much like TMNT for me in being willing to "double-dip" (or more) on stuff.

final_haul_2016b

With a 20%-off-everything-but-brand-new-comics sale going on, I snagged the Munchkin mini-expansion Dragons (to go with Dragon’s Trike that I got several weeks ago)…and got the Super Powers Superman figure/"statue" to go with the Robin one I got several months ago (though now I definitely want Batman. And Flash. And perhaps even Green Lantern…)

And Friday I’d revisited the closer comic shop for several volumes:

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At half-off and fitting in with recent Clone Saga and Ben Reilly volumes plus CHapter One and The Original Clone Saga that I’d had from 2015 or early 2016, I decided that I wanted them…especially having seen them. So I decided that if they still had all three volumes, I’d get ’em; all-or-nothing.

spiderman_clones_and_beyond

And now the Spidey portion of my collection is starting to look like something not completely pitiful. Of course, I believe I have four more volumes to track down for the Clone Saga Epic, and decide how much I’m willing to pay on the Ben Reilly volumes 5 & 6 (even cover price seems way too expensive!) (especially having gotten 1-4 for $8/ea!)

Hopefully this week will be a relatively small week, though!

Finally, the clear bonus to going back to the shop on Friday was getting to see Winston!

winston_dec30_2016

(He was still sleepy when I took this photo). He put up with my attention, though, which (as always) made the trip worth it for that alone!

Latest Aliens and Predators Shelf Configuration – September 12, 2016

aliens_shelf_sept12a

aliens_shelf_sept12bWe’re into September, which means a couple of new Aliens related books due out.

I believe this week will see the release of The Complete Aliens Omnibus volume two, collecting two of the Dark Horse novels after the initial trilogy.

And the end of the month will see the release of Alien vs. Predator: Armageddon (Book 3 of a "crossover trilogy" called The Rage War by Tim Lebbon.

We also have the current Dark Horse Comics series Aliens: Defiance in progress, as well as a new Judge Dredd/Aliens/Predator series with an upcoming Aliens: Life and Death (though after 2014’s Aliens/Predator/AvP/Prometheus event and subsequent one-volume collection, I’m just waiting for the one-volume collection this time around, most likely).

There was also a recent collection of general DC Comics/Dark Horse Aliens stuff put out, and more recently a volume of DC Comics/Dark Horse Superman stuff (of primary interest to me, the Superman/Aliens and Superman/Aliens 2 material) published.

Along with the various books and comics, there’s the new Aliens Queen 6" Funko Pop figure that just came out (at least according to a months-old Amazon pre-order that just arrived). While I’ve had the "regular" Alien, this Queen is one of the larger oversized figures… and I quite like it, all things considered.

A couple weeks ago, I found one of the mid-2000s Dark Horse Press Predator novels at a used book shop*. Rather crummy condition, but at half cover price and to have it, I won’t complain much for the moment.

(* not Half-Price Books. I figure it could be missing the cover and they’d mark it up to at least $50 just because it’s out of print and not necessarily due to any great demand beyond myself…)

I believe there are only 3 or so Predator novels I’m missing, now to have all of those; certainly still missing a bunch of comic/collected volumes, but I’ve found the novels a lot more satisfying for both Aliens and Predator, and certainly more "history" with the novels.

And as seen in the photos above, also some cool toys for them–primarily Funko product, with a couple Minimates creatures and a Neca figure thrown in for my kinda bookshelves…

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Aliens On My Shelf

aliens_00_shelf

With the new Alien novel comes a revisiting of my collection. I’ve been “collecting” the Aliens novels since my high school years, if not a bit before. Unfortunately I’m still missing some, but still quite enjoy the run I do have of these…

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The original trilogy of novelizations, all by Alan Dean Foster.

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These novels are based on the various comics published by Dark Horse, though I didn’t learn that until years later, having never paid attention to the indicia–or it never “registered” with me. I simply enjoyed them for what they were…especially the initial trilogy.

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A few years ago, I caught up on these–a newer series of novels, again from Dark Horse, but I don’t think they were adaptations.

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My introduction to Predator was through these novels. It was a number of years later before I finally saw the Predator films, though. I recall looking forward to the initial AVP film, but being quite disappointed In the result.

And now some new novels are out, and I’m intending to get back into reading Aliens for 2015.

AVP: Three World War #2 [Review]

Three World War

Script: Randy Stradley
Pencils: Rick Leonardi
Inks: Mark Pennington
Colors: Wes Dzioba
Lettering: Blambot!
Cover art: Raymond Swanland
Book Design: Lia Ribacchi
Associate Editor: Samantha Robertson
Editor: Chris Warner
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

I’ve read a lot of Dark Horse‘s Alien comics, and enjoyed those via the Omnibus volumes. I’ve yet to read much in the way of the Predator stuff, though I’m somewhat familiar with the Predator side of things from the first movie, and both of the AVP films…and a couple of novelizations of Aliens vs. Predator stories from the mid-1990s.

This issue picks up with a bunch of military people heading toward a world where Predators are present (and apparently Aliens as well), and as their guide/advisor, they have the woman who was for a time accepted amongst the Predators, who warns them of how to behave and react around the Predators if they want to stay alive. Where the title comes in–Three World War–seems to be the Aliens, the Predators, and Earthmen. Once the military arrives where the Predators are, the woman leaps into mortal combat with one, apparently following tradition by which one earns the right to speak to the Predators and be taken seriously.

The story itself seems fairly shallow, and one has to make a lot of leaps in following the action and plot, as there’s virtually no context or real sense of history given…if I wasn’t already familiar with the properties, this would seem entirely new and unconnected.

The art is where the strength of the issue lies, as the design and coloring blend for an end result that looks very much like a comic book–as it should, since this is one–and yet, also comes across as something like an adaptation of a screenplay, carrying a lot of weight of story by showing things rather than narration or exposition laying things out. The visuals seem fairly simple and not all that detailed…but these would work fairly well if this were to be an animated tv production.

As seems to be the case with most blends of these two properties, the story tends to be more about the Predators or otherwise those dealing with the Aliens, and the Aliens become a plot device…which I have no problem with. However, one really needs to either be a fan of or not mind reading about the Predators to enjoy this, as the Aliens get virtually zero presence here, and no real development…they’re just kinda there.

All in all, a solid enough issue. There seems to be more unrealized potential here than what’s already unfolded, and the book could do with a recap page (I couldn’t summarize the plot of the previous issue offhand without laying out some serious B.S.). But if you’re a fan of these properties, this is definitely worth a look-see, and if you don’t mind a highly visual-driven reading experience, this is a good series to check out. I do think this will ultimately read best as a collected volume, rather than in single issues with 6-some weeks between issues.

Story: 4/10
Art: 6/10
Overall: 5/10

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