Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Cover Artists: Salvador Larroca & Guru-eFX
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Weyland-Yutani Corporation has committed many dark deeds to get their hands on a live alien Xenomorph specimen. Now they have them and when a new violent incident arises, they find their perfect excuse to test run their latest new “bioweapon” on the terrorists. Alien Annual #1 brings back a familiar face from the first main story arc who gets stuck with delivering the alien payload.
The story of the first Alien Annual for Marvel Comics takes things back to before the very first issue in this run. This comic is primarily a prequel to the first story arc, as things focus more on what’s happening near Earth instead of out in the fringes of outer space like in the last story arc. There is a bit of world-building here and there, but the comic kind of breezes past that and doesn’t provide much background and only what’s strictly relevant to the story at hand.
This time around, the Weyland-Yutani corporation is responding to a terrorist attack on a space station called the Nishimura. Expectedly, the Company decides to test-run one of their specimens of the alien Xenomorph on the terrorists and even have a squad prepped and ready to deliver it there. Gabriel Cruz and his previous team are assigned the mission and everything seems to be going well, but of course something goes awry and horror swiftly follows in the Alien’s wake.
Salvador Larroca’s art is certainly better here than in recent issues as there’s less need for wide shots of action than before. While at the same time, Larroca is working with one Xenomorph this time instead of needing to draw multiple aliens at the same time. It also helps that the shots of the alien look great every time and the focus on one alien seems to allow Larroca to give more detail to the humans who get to be more expressive with their facial expressions.
The comic has Gabriel Cruz return to the forefront as the lead character but the comic introduces another character who ends up taking over the show: an old-model combat synthetic codenamed Charlie. If you’ve seen David from the film Prometheus, than he’ll seem familiar as he’s stoic, efficient, follow Company orders to a T, and is disturbingly fascinated with the Xenomorph. This is also displayed as Charlie gets to have his fair share of narration boxes that are clearly identified as his, allowing for more cold and calculating narration to contrast with the horror and death that’s occurring with the Xenomorph loose.
The one odd thing is that the ending is a little bit open-ended on what exactly happens to the alien Xenomorph in this issue. Naturally, Gabriel Cruz survives, that’s not really a spoiler since this is a prequel to his story in the first story arc. However, it’s not the worst ending to an Alien story and kind of leaves things on an ominous note that feels in line with the comic run and the dark spirit of the Alien franchise.
Alien Annual #1 goes a few years back in time to show the Company’s first live test run of a Xenomorph. Phillip Kennedy Johnson tells a solid Alien short story that has a beginning, middle, and end with a solid plot, dialogue, and pacing paired with Salvador Larroca’s art gets to show off the alien Xenomorph once again.