Aliens: Fire and Stone #4

Aliens: Fire and Stone #4

Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Patric Reynolds
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Cover Artist: David Palumbo

Aliens: Fire and Stone #4 is a somber end to this chapter of the series. Derrick is the only survivor left in a jungle full of horrors. It’s just him and a little remote probe he’s named Rover. Alone in a cave, he ponders the mysteries of the planet and properties of the black goo that mutates everything it touches. However, his end is near.

One thing I liked about this issue is the strong Castaway vibe of the story. With just Derrick left with no one to talk to but Rover, a little round hovering robot that doesn’t talk back, it was just like Tom Hanks and his soccer ball Wilson. Both are lone survivors talking to themselves, reaching out for something to keep them going, and making do with what they have. Alas, in Derrick’s case, there is no happy ending. The jungle and its inhabitants catch up with him. It’s a sad, somber end to his story, but it’s a good one. Through his dialog, there’s enough there for readers to bond with. He is one of the few characters who didn’t betray anyone, didn’t do anything stupid to get others killed. He’s just a survivor and his time has run out.

Matching the tone of the story, the dark, gritty artwork works well. The heavy use of shadow and the subdued colors match the nature of what’s going in the panels. This isn’t some bright, happy story. It’s dark and sad. Some of my favorite panels are the close-ups of Derrick as he rubs his face in dismay, so close to the answers he seeks yet so far away from knowing anything. You can feel his despair in the imagery. Oddly enough, David Palumbo matches the interior art with his cover, casting aside his previous full detail imagery for a style that reflects Patric Reynolds’ artwork. It’s an interesting send off.

As part of the greater whole, the Aliens chapter of the Fire and Stone series sets up several threads for the others to follow. Derrick’s ramblings scrawled all over the walls of the cave gives Francis the idea to tinker with Elden. The Onager‘s journey to the moon populates the jungle with xenomorphs. The presence of the xenomorphs lures in the predators. Aliens pretty much sets the stage for everyone else. That said, I’m not sure about the staggered, interweaving release of the issues. Since the events in Aliens takes place before Prometheus, Predator and Alien vs Predator, it can be a little jarring to read it concurrently with the others which is how Dark Horse chose to release these issues. It also spoils some surprises and story development.

On its own, Aliens: Fire and Stone hits upon several themes all revolving around survival. From it’s beginnings as an action-survival story with everyone scrambling to ships to escape the attacking xenomorphs, to an all out horror fest as the survivors are wiped out in mass, to finally a sorrowful goodbye to the last survivor. In the end, it touched on action, horror and drama. As such, I kinda enjoyed it. It wasn’t the most awe inspiring story of survival, or a riveting tale of horror, but it hit some beats and provided some entertainment. As a collective whole, I’d give the Aliens: Fire and Stone series a three out of five metal bikinis. However, for this last, dramatic issue of the series, I give Aliens: Fire and Stone #4 a four out of five metal bikinis. It touched on a story that was much more meaningful than the mindless slaughter, and one that could have made the entire series better if it had been focuses on more. The heart of a good survival story is having a survivor you care about. While Derrick was a character I cared about, the series didn’t always focus on him, and when it strayed away, it missed out on opportunities to further cement the readers with Derrick and his survival.

Of course, we didn’t actually see Derrick die. In the realm of horror movies, that could leave room for his return, and some hope for the Fire and Stone series at large. Or perhaps it was just a tasteful end to his story. Either way, it wasn’t a bad way to go.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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