Dark Horse Comics
(w) Dan O’Bannon, Christiano Seixas (a) Guilherme Balbi (c) Candice Han (l) Michael Heisler
Alien: The Original Script #1 (Alien:TOS #1 here on out) is a conundrum. Seeing as it’s the original script for one of the best films out there, you’ll subconsciously compare it to the film, which is hard to live up to; that is unless you are Aliens. Nonetheless, one of the best aspects of Alien: TOS #1 is being such a huge fan of the film and looking at what was kept and changed from this original script. Yet, that is where the first issues also falters; it feels like it’s for fans, not newcomers.
NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM IN SPACE
Included on the title page is a great note that shines some light on what you’re about to read. We’re given a quick synopsis of some of the differences and why some occur as they are. Instead of the designs being that of the classic movie by H.R. Giger, Moebius, or Ron Cobb, they are based on the design notes described in the screenplay. Following that quick explanation Alien:TOS #1 establishes another huge change with the ship’s name, instead of the Nostromo we have the Snark. But the name changes don’t stop there, as when Seixas introduces the crew they are all named differently than the film while looking vastly different. In general they are a whole different crew with most characteristics differing, and no sign of a Android. Yet, Seixas’ writing for each character helps set their personalities apart while showcasing relations with one another and the hierarchy of Snark, while making you want to learn more.
Once the plot picks up the similarities between Alien:TOS and Alien’s plot starts to rear its head. A lot of the major plot points are the same, yet the smaller details differ, not only that but there is a sense of this ship’s crew having more of a scientific background than the Nostromo. Sadly the thought of comparison in the back of your head starts to creep in even harder, as you know where the plot is going. As the first issue goes a lot does feel the same, yet, the thought of where Alien:TOS story (and design) wise will go makes you excited to learn more of O’Bannon’s unpublished work. Especially once the design of the original Space Jockey (or what seems to be the equivalent of this script) appears. But before we get into the designs a previous comment needs to be expanded upon.
FOR THE FANS
A fan of the franchise will enjoy Alien:TOS #1 as a note for comparison. Being able to look at what was the first unpublished script to what they know and love is enough to make them buy the comic no matter the quality. But, for someone who may know vertically nothing there doesn’t feel like there is enough draw. At no point throughout the first issue does it feel like there is a moment that will grab a newcomer and drag them into the world, instead it feels like a love letter to long time fans. That’s not per se bad, but Alien:TOS #1 feels like it will only draw in the fans and not newcomers. As good as this first issue was, and the previous Dark Horse Comics Original Script, William Gibson’s Alien 3 is, it feels like the Original Script comics work better as an OGN. Film screenplays are written for one film, not multiple issues of a comic, and yes some pacing was most likely changed for the comic, it still feels off to make into a series. Alien:TOS #1 just doesn’t feel like it has something that a newcomer will want to come back for.
A CHANGE OF DESIGN
Balbi and Han’s artwork brings Alien:TOS #1’s script to life. Taking the screenplay’s description, Balbi is able to showcase how close yet different many of the ship’s designs really are. Some areas vaguely resemble the look you know, yet it all seems higher-tech which matches how the crew seems to be “smarter” than the film. Yet, the one part everyone will be pining over is, “How does the Xenomorph look?” Well, it’s not shown. Why would it be? It wasn’t until deep into the film it was, but as mentioned above we do see the Space Jockey. Hell, they liked the design enough that it made it on the cover. I don’t blame them either as Balbi’s art really brings it to life.
As classic as the original Space Jockey looks, this design is entirely different, while matching its uniqueness. Not only does Balbi’s interpretation of the screenplays description look awesome, but it also has the feeling of a religious aspect that may play into the story later on. Be that as it may, Han’s coloring furthers the atmosphere of Alien:TOS #1. The visuals of Alien (film) are gorgeous between the composition, lighting, and colors. Balbi picks up the composition amazingly while Han handles lighting and colors fantastically. After reading the first issue it’s hard to see any other type of colors working on this series. Her ability to make the lighting in some panels feel organically terrifying is fantastic, helping the sheer feeling of dread transpire. Not only that but when the crew of Snark lands on the planet her colors showcase a harsh, near unlivable terrain. Yet, the greatest display of colors happens inside the alien ship itself where it seems like lights bounce off the surfaces, giving it an even more extraterrestrial vibe.
Bringing Alien:TOS #1 all together is Heisler’s lettering. Matching the visual tones matters a lot, as any sound effect or word bubble that doesn’t match can completely throw the whole aesthetic out the window. Heisler’s lettering melds perfectly with the surrounding colors and art never making it seem like it doesn’t belong in the world. One moment that showcases this feeling immensely is the alien language on display. The ship’s A.I. mentions how the language has an intelligence nature, while certain sounds are “inconsistent with the human palate.” That tells us that some of it may vaguely resemblance human letters. Heisler uses this info to have a few of the letters slightly resemble human language, yet only a little. This small detail and the alien lettering, in general, look fascinating and help expand upon the world and script.
THE TERROR OF THE KNOWN AND UNKNOWN
As the beginning said, Alien:TOS #1 is a conundrum. So much of the story does feel like the movie, yet it has enough that sets it apart. But then you fall into the pothole of knowing how it ends so why read it? To me, that’s a stupid train of thought. Not only does the team bring the script to life in a great fashion, but there is also enough new substance to make fans of the film want to learn how it differs. Yet it would flow better and feel more welcoming to newcomers as a one and done OGN then a limited monthly series. Nonetheless, if you’re a fan of the Alien franchise it is worth the read.
Memorable Quote: “Ohh… I must be alive–I feel dead.” – Faust.
I also feel like that whenever I wake up.