Few films have stayed with genre fans like Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic Alien. It's been a part of the pop-culture conversation since 1979. Followed up by James Cameron’s action-driven sequel Aliens, the franchise would eventually blossom with more sequels, prequels, video games, and more. However, some of the most impactful Alien stories have come from Dark Horse Comics.
Most recently we’ve seen terrific stand-alone stories like Aliens: Dead Orbit and Aliens: Dust to Dust, as well as the Aliens vs. Predator series. Equally deserving to be mentioned in the conversation is the 12-issue maxi series Aliens: Defiance from 2016, written by Brian Wood and drawn by Tristan Jones and others. Initially a sequel to the video game Aliens: Isolation, Defiance features the daughter of Ellen Ripley, Amanda Ripley, looking into the Weyland-Yutani Corporation 15 years after her mother’s disappearance in Alien. We are also introduced to a tough-as-nails ex-Colonial Marine, Zula Hendricks, who is disabled after her first combat operation with the USCM and emerges as the series’ star.
Now Dark Horse is picking up where Defiance left off, to tell a four-issue sequel called Aliens: Resistance that will be written by Wood, with art by Robert Carey (Power Rangers, Transformers), colors by Dan Jackson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and letters by Nate Piekos. Regular cover art will be done by Roberto De La Torre (Ms. Marvel), with variants by Tristan Jones.
SYFY WIRE has the exclusive announcement and cover reveal of Aliens: Resistance #1 and asked Wood about returning to helm an Aliens story, and specifically the characters he created for the Ellen Ripley legacy.
“It was a long and winding road that got us to Aliens: Defiance,” Wood explained. “The previous series I did with Tristan Jones, Stephen Thompson, Tony Brescini, and Dan Jackson, the whole team, and it was a road that at times intersected on the Ripley legacy and that narrative timeline. In the end, for a bunch of reasons, we stayed strictly with Zula Hendricks, albeit with a couple cameos by Amanda Ripley.
For Resistance, Zula is back as the main character but shares the spotlight with Amanda, and that excited the creative team, that returns nearly everyone involved, including editor Spencer Cushing.
“I created Zula with Tristan Jones, and usually when you create someone new within a licensed comic, the character isn't accepted and embraced back into the larger universe officially. He or she just sort of stays only in the comic. But Zula was embraced, and Resistance was developed alongside other Aliens projects they're working on.”
And it’s Zula’s story that readers will be able to continue. Hardened, not only by her affliction, but also the brutal road to recovery and depression-filled state she carried with her. The treatment she received after her injury conditioned Zula into a tough, brave central character, who most importantly is capable of surviving a world inhabited by xenomorphs and facehuggers.
“Zula’s story has places it could go, and I always wanted to see it continue, even if it wasn't by my hand. Based on emails and fan art, she connected with people. Resistance also kicks off on Earth, something not really shown in past Aliens works. It’s about the rush of deep-space colonization and how the Colonial Marines evolved in response to new threats and situations. Like Defiance, Resistance features the Marines in a big way, but opens things up with the colonists and the political situation surrounding that – plus Aliens, obviously.
“A huge part of Zula's Defiance story was her dealing with a serious injury and trying to find peace with her desire to be a Marine and reconcile that with the fact they don't want her anymore and maybe never did in the first place.” Wood explained that there is much to draw from Defiance for those who loved it, but offers a new starting point for those drawn in for the first time.
“The Zula we meet in Resistance has found her place -- no spoilers -- and has moved on to a new phase of her life and with a new purpose -- a new mission. Her friendship with Amanda was always more implied than shown, so it's been satisfying to properly write that and explore it. They make a great team.”
Unlike many Alien stories, the corporation of Weyland-Yutani is not just dressing or setup. They are as much the main course as the xenomorphs themselves. In Resistance, Zula is a starting point and then Amanda Ripley is brought into the fold.
“Then it continues with the general narrative of Weyland-Yutani's earliest efforts to exploit the Alien biotech,” shared Wood. “This is fairly early on in the overall timeline of the universe, taking place after Alien and right after the Isolation video game, but well before Aliens.”
“I realize Weyland's been a steady presence in all the films, and we all know they're hot to turn xenomorphs into weapons. I find a lot of interesting dramatic meat in these early, 'wild west' years for Weyland-Yutani, when they only sorta knew what they were dealing with, and were running secret black sites to run experiments away from prying eyes.”
It's been 40 years since Alien hit theaters, and fans are still arrested by Ridley Scott's early work and H.R. Giger’s vision of a relentless, spine-chilling horror existing in the outer reaches of our cosmos. Comics have allowed us to quench that thirst for more, and Wood is thrilled to deliver.
“I love Aliens, I love this world, everything about it. It's an honor to be invited back.”
Aliens: Resistance #1 hits comic shops on January 23, 2019, and is available for pre-order.