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REVIEW: What If... Aliens #1 - Hans Rodionoff, Adam F. Goldberg, Guiu Vilanova (Marvel)




Previously on Aliens


In 2122, the multinational corporation Weyland-Yutani diverted their commercial towing vehicle, the Nostromo, to the moon LV-426. Purporting to answer a possible distress call, WY secretly wished to secure specimens of a dangerous alien species known as Xenomorphs for study and profit. Tragedy struck the crew, leaving Lieutenant Ellen Ripley as the sole survivor. For decades, she drifted through space in cryosleep.


In 2179, Ripley was rescued and awoke to find that a terraforming colony know as Hadley's Hope had been built on LV-426, funded in part by WY. Ripley's warnings about the Xenomorphs went unheeded -- until contact with the colony was suddenly lost. A junior Weyland-Yutani executive, Carter Burke, enlisted Ripley to join him and a team being sent to investigate.


After finding the colony overrun, Ripley and the others soon discovered that Burke's only purpose was to obtain a Xenomorph sample -- and Burke was more than willing to sacrifice human lives to get it. When the aliens swarmed, Burke snuck away only to find himself face-to-face with one of the creatures.


In the world as we know it, Burke and most of the others on Hadley's Hope died horribly that day. But what if... Carter Burke had lived?


What If... Aliens #1 Recap and Review


If you've seen Aliens (who am I kidding, if you're reading this then you've definitely seen Aliens), you probably remember the scene where Ripley, Hicks, Newt, Gorman, Hudson, and Vasquez are on the observation deck on Hadley's Hope Colony when they discover that Weyland-Yutani executive Carter Burke planned to impregnate one of them with an Alien egg. Only for the power to be cut when Hudson was about to 'ice' Burke and for a duo of Alien xenomorphs to jump at them from the air ducts in the ceiling. Then as they're busy firing on the Aliens, Burke escapes into an adjacent room, locking the door behind him, only for an Alien to appear behind him hissing and that's where his life ended, right? That's at least what James Cameron would have you believe. On the other hand, the first issue of this limit series will have you believe something different.


What If... Aliens #1 continues on as Burke wakes up in the Xenomorph's hive glued to the wall in their sappy-ichor-glue stuff to the sight of a face hugger about to launch at him, except the explosion from Gorman's grenade which was seen as a sacrifice at the expense of him and Vasquez, has a shockwave effect that ripples through the station and takes out enough of the hive which allows Burke to escape. What follows next in an inventive way of us seeing the final moments on Hadley's Hope through Burke's eyes. He even witnesses Ripley going 1-on-1 with the Alien queen. Imagine being the fly on that wall!


Stowing away on the ship, Burke is able to avoid being seen by Ripley. Hicks, Newt and Bishop, awaiting for them to enter their cryo sleep chambers so he can place a much needed interstellar call to his boss, Mr Yutani. At first Yutani is inclined to leave Burke out there to die along with the Ripley and the other three but Burke is able to convince Yutani to send a retrieval ship under one condition - Burke has to take care of the unwanted cargo. Agreeing (and being the absolute bastard that he is), Burke burns a rag near the emergency alert system, tricking it to believe there's an internal fire which ejects the part of the ship where all the cryosleep chambers are. It's at this point we're made to believe that either Ripley and the other survivors perished in space and landed on the Prison planet depicted in Alien 3. I'll leave that for you to decide.


The second part of this issue jumps forward to 35 years later where Burke is a senior executive overseeing an outpost in the furthest reaches of space. It's eventually revealed that while Mr Yutani is good on his promise in rescuing Burke and letting him stay employed by Weyland Yutani, Mr Yutani made it public the reason for the deaths of the colonists on Hadley's Hope and the armed forces that tried to save them - is Carter Burke's fault. In this future timeline, his wife is dead, his daughter hates him and he sees only one way out: for one of his synth's to obtain an Alien egg from a far off planet and deliver it to him which while it could save his reputation and gain his daughter's faith, spells certain doom for all those Weyland-Yutani staff that work for him.


'What If... Aliens' #1 feels like it's ripped from the nether regions of Hollywood's script factory. Where all incredible scripts that studio executives refuse to take a chance on go to die. It's Aliens 2.0 as it reimagines a pivotal moment in the nonstop rollercoaster ride of James Cameron's science fiction-action-horror epic. Hans Rodionoff and Adam F. Goldberg have (thankfully!) outed themselves as Aliens fanboys as this Aliens comic book has panel-to-panel storytelling which includes all the necessary ingredients that make up an Aliens film. Betrayal? Check. Fascist organisation? Check. Explosive alien confrontations? Check. Bleak space-faring survivalist horror? Check. It's all there.


What tips the scale from great to exceptional is artist Guiu Vilanova's ability to work in the playground of realism and science fiction. The characters from the Aliens film; Burke, Ripley, Hicks, Vasquez, and all the rest of them could not be told apart from their real-life 1986 counterparts. The aliens are as terrifying as ever thanks to colorist Yen Nitro's handiwork which blends the high octane adrenaline filled summary of our favourite betrayal in the Aliens film with this fascistic fantasy utopia that Carter Burke has concocted for himself in the later pages of the issue. But then, I cannot sing my praises enough for letterer Clayton Cowles, who brings the absolute horrific terror of a Xenomorph infiltration as much as the creepy nuanced atmosphere felt on Hadley's Hope, the ship and Burke's 35 years later timeline.


The Aliens fan in me has been serviced.


Read What If... Aliens #1 by Hans Rodionoff, Adam F. Goldberg and Guiu Vilanova


WHAT IF... ALIENS #1

Written by Hans Rodionoff and Adam F. Goldberg

Art by Guiu Vilanova

Coloring by Yen Nitro

Lettering by VC's Clayton Cowles


Rating: 10/10


Genre: Science Fiction/Horror

Published by Marvel



What If... Aliens #1 - Main Cover by Phil Noto
What If... Aliens #1 - Main Cover by Phil Noto

Check out these Incredible Variant Covers


What If... Aliens #1 - Virgin Variant Cover by Adi Granov
What If... Aliens #1 - Virgin Variant Cover by Adi Granov

What If... Aliens #1 - Skan Variant Cover by Hans Rodionoff and Guiu Villanova
What If... Aliens #1 - Skan Variant Cover by Hans Rodionoff and Guiu Villanova

What If... Aliens #1 - Variant Cover by Peach Momoko
What If... Aliens #1 - Variant Cover by Peach Momoko

What If... Aliens #1 - Variant Cover by Lucio Parrillo
What If... Aliens #1 - Variant Cover by Lucio Parrillo

What If... Aliens #1 - Variant Cover by Adi Granov
What If... Aliens #1 - Variant Cover by Adi Granov

What If... Aliens #1 - Variant Cover by Skottie Young
What If... Aliens #1 - Variant Cover by Skottie Young

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