Aliens Omnibus Volume 1 (Book Review)

Title: Aliens Omnibus Volume 1 
Author: Mark Verheiden, Mark A. Nelson, Den Beauvais, Sam Keith 
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
My Rating: 3 stars
Summary in a Sentence: A compilation of the first wave of the Dark Horse comic series which do a good job of capturing the feel and power of the film series, packed into a high-quality and very reasonably priced anthology -- a good buy for any fan of the Alien films and comics, but probably not anyone else

I bought this mostly to give me more inspiration and ideas for my own comics drawing. I've always liked the style employed by Dark Horse comics, being a non-mainstream comics publishing house that favours a dark atmosphere. When friends have asked me how I developed my comic skills I say "from reading lots and lots of comics over the years." So, given the price of $16.49 it was going to be awfully hard to "go wrong" going in.

On the whole, I found this to be a satisfying collection. The first two series featured in the Omnibus, "Outbreak" and "Nightmare Asylum" were originally written as direct sequels to the events of Aliens, the star characters of these comics were Corporal Hicks and Newt and do a much better job than what the filmmakers decided on for said sequel (Alien 3). In this anthology they've been "remastered" and the characters renamed Wilks and Billie. I thought this was unnecessary and doesn't fool anyone given how the characters were drawn. Good stories though. Yet I have to say one big problem with "Outbreak" is that penciller Mark Nelson tends to draw everyone as the same height/build and hairstyle making it VERY difficult to tell characters apart much of the time.

The art in "Nightmare Asylum" by Den Beauvais is simply breathtaking. I have no idea what technique he used, but it almost looks like a series of oil paintings rather than comics. His characters are very well done and Hicks and Newt clearly identifiable since they look like the actors who portrayed them in Aliens.

I won't go into detail on the other stories, with the exception of saying that the third series featured, "Female War" is not very good. The story is goofy/confusing and the pencils are really sub-par. I can honestly say I could do better technically and I really did not like the style that attempts to be over-the-top with exaggerated muscles and such, and at the same time gritty. But even if we excised that collection from the anthology, the book as a whole is worth the $16.49. The stories (even including "Female War") are thankfully avoid the traditional comic book fanaticism to create new spins on the Alien mythos -- many of which are embarassing and others which are simply downright disturbing. For this reason I DON'T like omnibus Volume 3 (which I may review later and will more than likely consign to the flames or circular file rather than keep around).

I wouldn't recommend this collection as a series of general appeal. It really is only for Aliens fans. Even then, a certain level of caution is recommended as I'd recommend with the Alien films themselves. Definitely only meant for mature adults.

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