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When Disney acquired the creative properties of 20th Century Fox in 2019, one of the most valuable franchises it added to its empire was the seminal sci-fi world of Alien and all its assorted nightmares.
As another jewel in Disney's crown, Marvel Comics immediately benefitted from this merger by being gifted the keys to the Alien kingdom to hatch a new horror series of its own. Those rights had been previously held by Oregon-based Dark Horse Comics for nearly three decades.
Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson (Low Road West, Superman) and injected with chilling artwork from Salvador Larroca (Star Wars: Darth Vader, Invincible Iron Man), Alien #1 lands on March 24 and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview of this chilling debut issue.
"When I just saw the news release with everyone else that Marvel was doing new Alien books, I literally just started shouting random excited noises," Johnson tells SYFY WIRE regarding his reactions to scoring the prized gig. "When they asked me to actually WRITE THE LAUNCH, I can't adequately express how stoked I was and still am."
Johnson and Larroca's dark, biting storyline chronicles the resurrection of Gabriel Cruz, a man who almost sacrificed his life for the nefarious Weyland-Yutani corporation after he survived a terrifying xenomorph attack.
Recently retired, Cruz is now trying to reunite with his abandoned son with the help of a good friend, a classic Bishop-model android. However, his path back into a normal life will have some rough detours, and his clashes with the biomechanical aliens are not over yet. In this new era of Alien storytelling, no one is safe, no one is innocent, and no one can hear you scream.
"Anyone who looks for it in my earlier horror work will see the influence of the first two Alien films, but I don't know if Marvel quite understood my love for the franchise when they gave me that call," Johnson adds. "I can definitively promise readers that they're getting stories written by the biggest Alien fan imaginable, and that I'll always have more stories to tell as long as they want me on the book."
Johnson had some mighty shoes to fill with the 40-year legacy of Alien tales told in various mediums but he embraced the challenge with relish.
"The most important aspect of the story is also probably the most difficult: to capture the feelings of fascination, can't-look-away horror, and emotional investment that we associate with the original films," he notes. "The first appearance of the facehugger, the birth of the first chestburster, and when we finally see the fully grown xenomorph looming over us…those are singular moments in horror, and in cinema in general. In all its forms, the xenomorph is the most perfect expression of horror on film, and the effect it has on people the first time is a hell of a trick to pull off a second time, but that's what we're trying to do.
"We want to give people that same physical reaction, and the same emotional investment we got from Ripley and Newt. It's not enough just to show the facehugger and xenomorph again ... we've already seen them. We have to find new ways to shock and disturb the reader, and new ways to get readers emotionally invested that doesn't crib from the originals. I think we're doing that, and I can't wait to see what people think of this new chapter."
Larroca's unsettling artwork aids in conveying the disturbing nuances of Johnson's narrative in myriad ways.
"Salvador is one of the most detail-oriented artists I've worked with, and as we've seen from his stellar work on Star Wars, he knows all about keeping continuity in-line with a beloved film property," Johnson says. "As awesome as the xenomorphs are to look at, their design is INSANELY detail-intensive, and it takes a special artist to draw them over and over again and make them look exactly right every time. We're also introducing some never-before-seen creatures in this series, and his designs have been insanely cool. I'm especially excited for readers to see "the Alpha," a new breed of xenomorph that plays an important part in the xenomorph's evolution."
As for some new xenomorph surprises in store as the plot unfolds, Johnson promises we'll see some very memorable and upsetting "variations" on the aliens' life cycle.
"We'll see a hypersleep chamber with something pretty upsetting written on it, and slowly come to understand what it means," he notes. "We'll continue to see the development of the androids, the significant value they offer as allies, and the massive threat they pose as enemies. And most notably, we'll further explore the xenomorphs' limitless ability to adapt and survive, which to them means impregnating and eviscerating everything that isn't them. And that's going to manifest in some pretty messed up ways."
Now step boldly into our five-page peek at Marvel's Alien #1, alongside a nightmarish nest of variant covers by artists like Larroca, Ron Lim, Greg Horn, Ryan Brown, Skottie Young, Patrick Gleason, Steve McNiven, and Alan Quah.