Aliens: Salvation by Dave Gibbons, Mike Mignola

Although very brief and not necessarily groundbreaking, it is easy to see why this became a classic in the Alien canon. It’s a title that has the creators’ hallmark all over it but also takes most of main points of the aliens movie story and recrafts them through a theological slant. Sure, there’s nothing subtle here and we pretty much know what’s going to happen. But arguably that’s part of the charm.

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Story: When freighter Nova Maru has a sudden and catastrophic containment breach in its hold, their injured captain inexplicably goes mad and demands the gentle, devout catholic cook take him to the nearby planet in a shuttle. Crash landed, trying to survive, the cook, Selkirk, must deal with a hostile planet, a captain slipper further and further into dementia, and a new threat: something brought in the hold of the freighter when it crash landed and that shouldn’t have been there.

Really, you could take a checklist of the key points of the movie Aliens and then find them in this on-shot graphic novel Salvation. While reading, I could hear the voice of the computer starting the self destruct sequence and the snk snk of the aliens as they moved along metal floorways. So there is definitely something for fans o the movie yet the story is interesting enough for those not invested in alien canon as well.

The Catholic overtones reminded me greatly of movies like The Missionary – I could see where the author could have really taken the whole messianic thing over the top but didn’t; certainly we don’t have a advertisement for or indictment of Catholicism here.

The artwork is a bit cartoony and the aliens are almost always drawn in pure black silhouette against blocky swaths of primary red. That’s the artists’ style and either you like it or prefer something with more detail. It suits the story, though, and keeps the plot moving.

Perhaps a quibble is that this is very short – I think I finished it in under 15 minutes. And other than adding religion, nothing much really happens. It’s all a lead up to the apocalyptic ending. But there is something here for both Alien and Hellboy fans and it is easy to see why this is considered a classic. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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