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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

aliens_shelf_sept12c

The Weekly Haul – Week of June 08, 2016

The past week was yet another that could be counted as both a huge week yet a “small’ week for new-to-me comics.

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Had the five new Rebirth issues–three more of the one-shot/prologue/kickoff issues, as well as the first two of “regular numbering” for ongoing books in Action Comics and Detective Comics.

The Action Comics issue was by far my absolute favorite of this bunch–with ‘Tec not far behind…though all were of sufficient quality to continue to validate my own personal interest in the initiative for now.

(And rather than this post last week, I wound up gushing about the Action Comics issue instead!)

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The Rebirth stuff, of course, is on top of the other “usual” stuff of late. While the covers in particular on the Bebop and Rocksteady are a bit iffy (yet I am so extremely Extremely EXTREMELY glad the multi-part image covers multiple issues rather than being umpteen variants on the same issue!!!) I’m enjoying the notion of a weekly (if only a “mini”/limited series) TMNT book…more content/story/etc in a compressed amount of time…works for me.

I nearly missed the Thunderbolts issue…quite enjoying this new iteration…though hoping it does not tie into Civil War II, as I have absolutely no interest in supporting that story, in supporting “the latest event from Marvel, and it’s already prompted me to decide I’m done with Power Man and Iron Fist despite otherwise kinda enjoying that book.

I’d followed the “solo books” on the Gold Key stuff from Dynamite, tried the first issue of this mini, and figured it’s “only” 5 issues, might as well stick it out.

And I liked the last Aliens/Predator/Prometheus/AvP arc of minis, planning on keeping up with these (though they seem more spread out than that last one, linear rather than overlapping).

I need to get caught up on actually reading the Legends of Tomorrow book…I have no idea if it’s continuing past six issues, but I believe I saw something a few weeks ago of a Firestorm collected volume collecting that story as its own thing from these…and just as I want to support the $2.99 price point on the Rebirth initiative, I also want to support the $7.99 price point for this quadruple-sized-content series, anthology or not!

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Getting into bargain-bin stuff…last year (like April or March 2015) I’d noticed a bunch of copies of WildC.A.T.S #1, and got at least one or two. Then last August I bought $4 worth of the issues–16 copies–on a random whim/self-amusement. Given the quantity of copies still remaining…I figured for just half the cost of a contemporary DC issue…nothing wrong with another 6 copies. For the sake of the ridiculous quantity. Just because I can. (regardless of there being zero wisdom in it).

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Snagged a few other randomish issues. Almost did the same thing on the $1 copies of GI Joe #2…but a friend had “warned” me that there was a second print from that time, so all copies looking the same, I bought one and glad for that–it’s a second printing edition. Which I think I need for my singles collection, but there’s no “fun” in buying umpteen copies for the sake of umpteen cheap copies of a second print.

The other issues grabbed my attention for various reasons, and at 25 cents were not a bad purchase!

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While I’d tracked down the entire run of Eclipso: The Darkness Within annuals, I’ve had very little luck with the Valor or Eclipso ongoing books’ issues. Neither series lasted that long (hardly two years!) but given the annuals’ significance to me in my early days as a comics person, I’m quite curious about both series, as they remain a “blind spot” in my reading.

Finding four unique Valor issues was a bit of a surprise…as was my third (at least!) copy of The Darkness Within #1 with the 3-D purple “black diamond” thingie glued on. (I’d hardly known these existed before, and now have come across ’em a number of times, opting to purchase at least 3).

And then on strength of the pricing online, I ordered Batman: Shadow of the Bat vol. 1 as well as the 2nd (of 2) volume of The Infinity Watch…both for half off cover price. Yet even more stuff from the ’90s that repackaged and sold as new, I am quite enthused to buy…far, far moreso than I am most anything new!

The Weekly Haul – Week of February 11th, 2015

Another large week with clustering: THREE Valiants. Again…

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As well as the first issue of Darth Vader, and the final issue of the entire Fire and Stone “crossover” mega-story with the Prometheus, Aliens, AVP, and Predator properties.

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I actually passed on the DC Weeklies for now in favor of this image firsts compendium. It’s a fairly hefty paperback with NINE #1 issues (that’d be at least $27 cover price offhand) for a mere $5.99. For only $1 more than the Darth Vader issue, I have 9 #1s to sample in a single paperback.

I’ll probably catch up on the weeklies next week…nearing the end so just finishing those out and hope that when I finally catch up on the reading it proves worthwhile.

The Weekly Haul – Week of September 10th, 2014

Another week, another haul.

This week…a HUGE one. Like…buyer’s remorse kinda huge.

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Four more of the unplanned-for DC issues. Batman and GLCorps I decided over the weekend I was going to get. I don’t know what it was about Batgirl that grabbed me with this cover, but it did. An d the Justice League United one was nice and flashy…and I was curious about a one-shot continuing into another one-shot, and figured that’d tie a couple weeks together in a way.

Then there’s the Wheedon Three-Way, collecting/reprinting Buffy Season Ten #1, Angel & Faith (series 2 #1, and Firefly: Leaves on the Wind #1), Archer and Armstrong and Armor Hunters: Harbinger #3, with Magnus thrown in for good measure. Prometheus #1 which I believe will be crossing over/tying in to a new Aliens series. Astro City, and TMNT New Animated Adventures…and the massive Legends of the Dark Knight 100-Page Super Spectacular #4.

More than I’d bargained for–especially with the LotDK volume…but it is what it is.

And there’s this “Free Edition” of the Marvel 75th Anniversary Magazine that was thrown in, so that adds some value to the week…being free, even if I only spend a few minutes browsing the thing, at least it’s not something I had to specifically pay for.

Faces of Evil: Prometheus #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: The Man who Murdered Prometheus

The true Prometheus finds himself free, and seeks revenge on the man who has used his name during his imprisonment.

facesofevilprometheus001Writer: Sterling Gates
Art & Color: Federico Dallocchio
Letterer: Swands
Editors: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza
Cover: Mauro Cascioli
Publisher: DC Comics

Opening with a fairly "classic" "one punch takeout" by Batman, we see the original Prometheus dealt with by Batman and Martian Manhunter in a flashback. Moving to the present, we find that Prometheus has been imprisoned for a couple years (comic time), and isn’t seen as much of a threat by the guards assigned him. Prometheus recalls his own origin (a simple story device/excuse to fill readers in on it). When he finds himself let loose of the Martian Manhunter’s control (J’onn’s death in Final Crisis #1 / Final Crisis: Requiem), he sets out to continue his mission of revenge against agents of justice as well as against the imposter using his name of late.

I was interested in this issue by its title alone: I vaguely recalled Prometheus from a couple of issues fairly early in the Morrison JLA run over a decade back, and thought it’d be interesting to see where the character is–or would be brought–in the present. Story wise, I was not disappointed. The plot is a bit cliched, but works for me as a one-shot though I doubt it’d work for me as a longer story. We have a reconciliation of sorts of the character (I never knew that someone other than one character has used the name "Prometheus" in DC’s continuity) that sets him up to be a big player in future issues.

Offhand I am not at all familiar with the artist’s name, but with art like that in this issue, I certainly hope to become familiar. There’s a gritty realism to the art that fits quite well with the story. I’m not a huge fan of the Prometheus costume–can’t quite put my finger on it, except it just looks…weird. I don’t have any old issues to reference to see how similar or different it is to the original, but hey…whatever.

I haven’t found the Faces of Evil bit all that engaging in most of the other DC titles (particularly Booster Gold, Green Lantern Corps, and Action Comics) so far. However, this issue seems to be exactly what Faces of Evil is all about, giving a solid, full story about a villain with insight into the villain him/herself. With quality like this, I’d even be somewhat interested in a regular series of spotlights on various villains if it kept to this price point.

This is a good one-shot–though it’s not an entirely new character, one can certainly see how this’ll be a launching point for a dangerous DC villain that hasn’t had much play time the last few years. If you can find it for cover price, this is well worth a look-see.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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