In Review: Aliens: Dust to Dust #2

Things go from bad to worse as a boy tries to survive on a colony that's become infested.

The covers: Two different covers to collect on this appropriately numbered second issue. A trio of xenomorphs crawl forward on the “Standard” cover by Gabriel Hardman & Rain Beredo. The splatters of black on the cover make it seem as if the environment is obscuring the creatures. Hardman’s art is always good and Beredo knows exactly what to make pop with his colors. This is disturbing and great. The Variant cover is by Carlos D’Anda and features a single humanoid xenomorph upright shown from its right. It’s hands are at its side in supplication while its tail wraps over its head, with its point just at the creature’s crotch. The illustration is good, but the coloring is extra strong: the creature is colored in gold and violet against a white background. Wow! Does this one stand out. Overall grades: Both A 

The story: Gabriel Hardman starts this issue off with the shuttle from the U.S.S. Carver trying to get out of the atmosphere from Trono colony that’s been overrun by xenomorphs. As the flight crew struggles to pull the ship up, the passengers are dealing with the infant creature that’s exploded from Maxon’s mother’s chest. He unbuckles himself  and is tossed around the shuttle’s interior as the vessel moves about erratically due to turbulence. His battering about is stopped by a familiar face from last issue. A miraculous moment occurs on Page 6, but the page ends in heartbreak as someone realizes a character’s fate. The crew and the survivors are hit with a hard truth on 7. Things get complicated on 9 when Maxon sees something that others do not. 14 has all the characters in a new setting trying to survive. Another brutal truth hits the group on 18 and a decision is made regarding everyone’s fate. This story is tense as every new page brings a new threat to these survivors. Overall grade: A

The art: Gabriel Hardman is also the book’s artist and brings every hope and horror to life. The opening page focuses on the crew trying to get out of the atmosphere and their expressions and reactions to what’s occurring shows the reader that their task is not an easy one. The uncertainty of the situation is left for absolute horror on the second page where the xenomorph has exploded out Maxon’s mom. The battering this boy takes after he undoes his belt is traumatic to see and the final panel on Page 3 is an incredibly hopeful moment as someone grabs his clothing. The second panel on 6 is beautiful. The lack of text on the page makes the visuals speak volumes for the characters. Maxon gets to emote silently in several panels in this issue, such as on 8, which would have movie goers screaming at the screen if this was a film. The entrance at the bottom of 8 is startling and horrific, but truly becomes a nightmare at the top of 9. The sequence of events on 10 – 12 is extremely fluid, resembling storyboards from a film more so than comic book panels. The visual at the top of 18 is jaw-dropping for what it means for the survivors. The final page introduces a new character in a distressed state that is terrific. This book looks great. Overall grade: A

The colors: Due to the nature of the world this is set on, it’s a dark book. However, colorist Rain Beredo doesn’t have the book drowning in darkness; he knows exactly where to place colors to draw the reader’s eye in the panel. For example, look how he intensifies the opening page with reds for the windshield of the shuttle. The pinkish coloring used for the xenomorph on the second page matches the same shades that would be used for a newborn human baby. The first two panels on 6 are beautiful for the light colors used to create heaven. Notice how Beredo also puts bright colors on the characters on the ssame page to remind the reader that the sun can now be seen. Overall grade: A

The letters: Michael Heisler creates this issue’s text which includes dialogue, sounds, yells, transmissions, and the three word tease for next issue. The dialogue is easy to read and never covers any key elements of the art, as the reader will constantly be looking in every corner of the book for possible alien threats. The sounds are, again, spectacular, with them looking primal for xenomoph squeals and explosions. I also have to say how much I like the electronic repetition in the third panel on 10 which I could hear perfectly. There are also several yells of different size and shape, informing the reader how intense each is. Overall grade: A

The final line: Things go from bad to worse as a little boy tries to survive on a colony that’s become infested. The story is tense with danger lurking in every panel and the visuals are outstanding as they create hopes and nightmares. If you enjoyed the films, you’ll enjoy this original tale. Overall grade: A

To order a print copy go to https://www.tfaw.com/Comics/Profile/Aliens-Dust-to-Dust-2___566164?utm_source=darkhorse&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=darkhorse_buy&utm_term=buy+Aliens%3A+Dust+to+Dust+%232

To order a digital copy go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/b64dbe30f501442fb94995e8d920c256/aliens-dust-to-dust-2

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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