Graphic Content #25 this week explores Marvel’s sci-fi horror comic Alien #5. We last off with the fourth issue, introducing a fearsome new Alien to this canon who likely originated in the pre-Marvel days. I’ve been pretty hit-or-miss on the comic but we’re going to see if issue #5 can save the whole thing for me. 

This is the final shot. Is Marvel’s Alien a title worth reviewing going forward?

Alien #5 Sci-fi Horror Comic Review

Marvel's Alien #5 sci-fi horror comic cover featuring a Xenomorph on the attack.
At least the cover is nice.

Alien #5 picks up where issue #4 left off with series lead Gabriel Cruz discovering his lost son, Danny, who has already fallen prey to the Xenomorphs, now a host. The android Bishop and Danny’s girlfriend, Iris, are with him for a time. Gabriel sends the android and survivor to an escape route, while Gabriel is being hunted by a xenomorph that has a connection to the embryo inside of Danny.

The thing is, this should be a pretty thrilling sort of adventure on paper. There is a lot going on, with characters stuck in a space station, being hunted by Xenomorphs. That is half of the existing Alien franchise storytelling right there. The problem comes with Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s writing. While the functional beats of a story are present, there is just nothing of interest.

It is okay to embrace escape and hunting tropes, but it helps to have characters readers can invest in. That’s just not the case with Marvel’s Alien. The only character I have any connection with as a reader is Bishop, and that is because Bishop has been around since the 1980s. I just have no investment into this, five issues in. Especially when characters are actual idiots.

Panels from Marvel's sci-fi horror comic Alien #5 depicting Iris and Bishop in an alien-infested space station.
Iris’s line is terrible and so is she.

Even the backstory we get is fairly rote. Gabriel just isn’t a character to build a story around – maybe it’s his military background and conclusion with Weyland-Yutani. Nobody wants to connect to the corporate fascist.

While the art is still not to my liking, feeling overly flat and lifeless, artist Salvador Larroca does get credit for a panel depicting a mass suicide that is pretty effective and does better storytelling than most of the writing in the issue.

Panel from Marvel's sci-fi horror comic Alien #5 depicting a mass suicide.
Visually interesting storytelling in Marvel’s Alien?! Oh wait, there is the inset panel.

But that effective visual storytelling is immediately undercut with a line that attempts to be funny. Furthermore, the still, lifeless style of Larocca, great for piles of corpses, immediately appears more lifeless than scenes of mass suicide. This has been a consistent problem since issue #1 where characters, in an attempt to be beholden to likeness, appear visually flat and uninteresting. It all reads so hollowly.

That even applies to the coloring by Guru e-Fx, where the colors do little to help promote the depth of a scene. Hallway surfaces are rendered virtual flat with single colors despite the heavily blacked shadows that are supposed to generate depth. Characters end up being shadowy, formless mess merging into shadowy, formless backgrounds.

Alien #5: The Bottom Line

With Alien #5 I have determined that this sci-fi horror comic is not for me. I am a big fan of the Alien-franchise to a degree, but I also am more than happy to jettison the stories I just do not like. That is the case here.

I just cannot find much positive to say about Marvel’s efforts with the franchise, especially given nearly two decades of comics that already exist from Dark Horse. While those could be hit-or-miss, they at least had a good start and were novel enough.

I could handle Marvel’s Alien not dropping anything interesting and telling a stock Alien story… if it was good.

Not the case here. I am dropping Marvel’s Alien from my reading list so I do not have to deal with it anymore, like dropping a nuke on LV-426… it’s the only way to be sure.

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Marvel’s Alien #5, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, illustrated by Salvador Larroca, and colored by Guru-eFX, is available from Marvel Comics and your local comic shop.

See you soon with another Graphic Content horror comic review. Please share your thoughts on the reviews or comics, and let me know what you are currently reading. I’d love to find some recommendations.

Want a Copy of Marvel’s Alien #5?

David Davis

Drive-In Fan

About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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