A review of Dark Horse's Alien: Fast Track to Heaven HC!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Beneath the ice of Jupiter's moon, life teems in lightless oceans. But more spectacular discoveries elsewhere in the cosmos have left Europa's research facilities underfunded and ignored, a lonely wayside with an orbital station and a decaying space elevator. When one of the elevators stops midway, the rescue team discovers a deadly cargo that threatens life on Europa and on Earth.
* From superstar creator Liam Sharp (Gears of War)!
* An all-new deluxe-format hardcover graphic novella!
One of the most difficult things to write well is a suspenseful, scary story. It is difficult to take a group of sympathetic, charismatic characters and put them into a situation where you are concerned for their well-being and frightened for them. Aliens is a prime example of this difficulty: although there is a good amount of characterization, the story leaves something to be desired. Just how often can you have a story about a group of marines, space explorers or otherwise space-bound fighters engaged in a fight for their lives with an unknown, ominous force that threatens their very lives?
Our story takes place below the ice on a research base on Jupiter's moon Europa. A group, our soon-to-be fodder team, has been sent in to discover what happened to a previous research team. They don't find the previous team; instead, they find a hive with a few straggling remnants of the previous team encased in housing for future serpents. The reader is never really told why this specific team is there in the first place. We are led to believe that not only is it totally natural for a team to be there for a seemingly pointless venture at this point in our future, and that Weyland is setting up our team as a test for the creature.
The ultimate tension isn't whether or not the creature is going to make mincemeat of our heroes. This is Alien – or Aliens. After all, most of the stories ended with at least five survivors anyway. Therefore, the stress in our story doesn't come from whether this wayward rescue team is going escape from this encounter without being doused with acid blood or killed brutally by this savage killing machine. (Both of which were actually drawn quite well; horrific yet still tastefully done all the same.) The tension comes from the desperate need to stop this virtually unstoppable force before it uses their ship to come back to Earth. If hardened rescue teams don't have a chance to stop it, what chance would the helpless civilians of Earth have?
The artwork in this comic has a true gritty feel, which helps to show the tough situation that the research team is going through. The different colors, in addition to showing their otherwise desperate situation, it really relays the mood. As they first arrive at the research base, they find the clear lighting is completely tan, illustrating just how much the hive has completely taken over the area. The entire page is a blue hue when there is an air of sadness at the recent demise of two members of the team as their leader is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to buy them some precious time. The light in the area is completely yellow when there is a jovial nature about them before the team really knows what they are getting into.
All and all, this comic is quite well done. The artwork is very well done and does a good job relating the mood, the dialogue, though sparse, is enough to evoke emotional reaction in the characters and the setting provides enough desperation to spark hints of fear. However, this story adds nothing to the genre of science fiction, horror or the graphic novel universe. It is a well-done title, but a far from memorable one.
Two stars out of four.
Review by: Dan Buckley, Outhouse Contributor