Thursday, 29 July 2021

Alien #5 - Marvel Comics

ALIEN No. 5, September 2021
Considering that in its simplest form this comic’s narrative could uncharitably be boiled down to depicting Gabriel Cruz basically racing down a corridor so as to reach Vice Director Harada’s escape pod, Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s penmanship for issue Five of “Alien” still delivers an almighty wallop of a pulse-pounding publication. True, artist Salvador Larroca is certainly required to pencil plenty of panels portraying “Weyland-Yutani’s loyal security officer” manfully carrying his unconscious son towards salvation as he dynamically races through cramped conduits, tightly-fitting doorways and Xenomorph-infested passageways. But that doesn’t stop the “Eisner-nominated writer” from adding plenty of nail-biting tension to such scenes by cramming them full of character-building exposition.

In fact, these ‘chase sequences’ really provide an intriguing window into Cruz’s emotionally complicated headspace, by detailing how the father of two suddenly realises that his eldest lad, Lucas, had been right as a kid to be terrified of the dark and the monsters which could inhabit it - A fearful state of mind which didn’t actually occur to the grizzled ex-marine himself until he was already a fully-grown man ordered upon a calamitous Corporation venture; “Every night in my dreams, I’m back in the nest… Strung up between the hollowed-out corpses of my teammates staring my own death in the face.”

Furthermore, the veteran soldier’s reminiscing as to his traumatising past also finally gives this publication’s audience the opportunity to discover just how Gabriel actually survived being impregnated by a Facehugger “twenty years earlier.” Johnson’s decision to use the doomed mission’s Bishop android as the trooper’s single-handed saviour makes perfect sense, and simultaneously nicely links the comprehensive flashback to the book’s current-day setting where another version of the automaton is busy trying to help Danny’s ungrateful girlfriend Iris on board Epsilon Station.

Ultimately though, a hefty chunk of this twenty-page periodical’s success sits squarely upon the shoulders of the aforementioned Larroca, and the Spaniard’s impressive ability to imbue this comic’s cast with all the hallmarks of the physical exertions they are undertaking so as to outlive their deadly opponents. This proficiency to pencil the desperate determination on Cruz’s face to triumph against overwhelming adversity as he rushes headlong down dark, dingy corridors with a pack of lethal aliens clawing at his heels really adds to the believability of the character’s conflicting motivations, and arguably forces the reader to wholeheartedly hope the evidently loving parent can somehow save his dying offspring.

The regular cover art of "ALIEN" #5 by InHyuk Lee

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