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Cover to 'Aliens: Dead Orbit' #4. Art by James Stokoe/Dark Horse Comics

Cover to ‘Aliens: Dead Orbit’ #4. Art by James Stokoe/Dark Horse Comics

By Kaitlin Beer. Was it worth the wait? You bet your chits it was!

This comic actually scares me. It isn’t just the jump scares — the anxiety created by James Stokoe (Orc Stain, Wonton Soup, Godzilla: The Half-Century War) in these pages is intense. In the final issue of this mini-series, we are treated to the last efforts of the crew (and the unfolding of Wascylewski’s final plan) as the seconds count down, literally, in the explosives set in a previous issue.

I don’t think I am capable of being disappointed by James Stokoe’s art. Anything he illustrates in his classic style of painstaking detail has the ability to transport the most boring content into a vibrant visual story. Stokoe’s art carries the plot. The entire finale takes place during a matter of minutes. Much like the other issues, it drops the reader into the middle of the fray. The suspense and action pull the reader along while words become less necessary to express the intent.

Interior page from 'Aliens: Dead Orbit' #4. Art by James Stokoe/Dark Horse Comics

Interior page from ‘Aliens: Dead Orbit’ #4. Art by James Stokoe/Dark Horse Comics

Wassy’s flashbacks, as he’s running from the bombs and aliens, show the fates of the crew members as the vent dwelling xenomorphs close in on their prey. Stokoe’s use of color to differentiate recollections from the present is stunning. The cooler colors when Wassy is alone versus the red tones when he was with his crew help to pull a little more personality out of a character that we barely get a chance to meet. He seems to have less fear in his eyes and more anger after his unsuccessful attempts to save the lives of his crew. You can see him shift from the hopes of survival to doing whatever it takes to make sure no one else stumbles upon these creatures.

This issue manages to make the solitude of outer space abundantly clear while also delivering on the frantic chaos of the captain and crew fighting for their lives. It is far from the best story ever told by Stokoe, but it succeeds in expressing a dire situation while staying true to what we know about the Alien franchise. I was not disappointed in the brevity, I simply wanted more.

Dark Horse Comics/$3.99

Story, Art, and Lettering by James Stokoe.

7.5 out of 10

‘Aliens: Dead Orbit’ #4 is in stores on December 13.