Aliens: Alchemy is a three-issue limited comic book series that was first published by Dark Horse Comics from September-December 1997. It was written by John Arcudi, illustrated by Richard Corben, colored by John Pound and Stuart Hiner, lettered by Gary Fields and edited by Philip Amara and David Land, with cover art by Corben.
In the Aliens comics line, Aliens: Alchemy was preceded by Aliens: Purge, was published concurrently with the movie adaptation Alien Resurrection and Aliens: Kidnapped, and was followed Aliens: Tourist Season.
#1: Toch's a second-generation survivor, born of a transport crew that crash-landed on a deserted, backwater planet. He may have discovered a means of getting off the mudball, but he's also discovered another impediment — the deadly cargo the ship was carrying!
#2: It's the end of the world and the almighty First Father hath sent a plague of Aliens. Give your faith to him or face an eternity of damnation.
#3: The end of the world is at hand, and an eternity of damnation awaits. But two siblings, Toch and Rachel, aren't buying into all the death and destruction. They have a hunch that salvation rests within the haunted transport ship that brought their ancestors to the planet hundreds of years ago. But there might be an Alien or two along the way!
The story begins with Toch Newcomen camping in the ruins of a crashed ship and asking himself about a crisis of faith. Suddenly, he sees what appears to be the ghost of a Marine near the ruins and flee in terror. Next day he is preaching on the town of Emerson about an impending ecological disaster. Meanwhile, Legate Carson Muir is attending a meeting with the town council and Mrs. Kartha Hitrese about a salvage referendum which permits Mrs. Hitrese a salvage mission to the crashed ship. Legate Muir cites holy scriptures and ended the discussion.
Toch's preaching causes town's drunk Rurik to start yelling about a monster called the dark one, and this attracts the attention of Sergeant Rachel, Toch's sister. Their conversation is cut off by the arrival of legate Muir, who tells Toch it's time for his meeting with "First Father".
Muir, Toch and another man are praying in the ruins of the ship, and Toch is worried about what's next. Muir tells him its his duty as he has seen the truth, Toch reluctantly accepts. Later two of the brothers are looking for other two called Ojvind and Wald, who hadn't reported. They find brother Wald's ravaged body and call the police. Rachel and another officer go to the refuge and find brother Ojvind cocooned to the roof, begging to be killed. That night, Osbert, the town's barman tosses out Carl, but he enters again bleeding from a wound. As he tried to help him, a xenomorph impales and drags him out. His wife Kina, closes the door but the alien jumps trough the window and kills her. Rachel interrogate Muir about the murder and only gets a warning from Muir about the "dark night of extinction".
A week later, the alien has killed twelve people. Muir is giving a sermon about fear and is pleased that the town's people are now listening to him with attention. Muir ends his sermon with the promise that First Father will protect them all, signaling at a stained glass of First Father with a group of children in a flower-covered meadow.
Captain Price and Sergeant Newcomen soon discover the corpse of a rancher, Traupman, with all of his men and cattle murdered. Suddenly, a xenomorph attacks the two. Some of the men try to fire arrows at the creature, but the arrows are simply melted by the acidic blood. It kill them all but Rachel, saved by captain Price, who wounds the xenomorph with his sword and is killed by the acid blood.
Mrs. Hitrese and legate Muir question Rachel about the monster, and Muir used the misunderstanding about the creature's origin as a mutation as proof of his preaching, winning over Hitrese about the salvage referendum. Mrs Hitrese then reveals Rachel about the true nature of Muir as a psychopath, being an animal torturer and bully as child. Rachel then visits the refuge and enter First Father's chamber, only to find the remains of her brother, Toch and a badly-damaged Synthetic.
The synthetic, now revealed to be the "First Father", tells Rachel the truth. Almost a century ago, he was known as Meeker, the USS Emerson's synthetic babysitter, the exploration ship was struck by a virus infection that kills all adults. An emergency continence routed the ship to the nearest habitable planet and it crashed, but Meeker as well as the children survived and founded the town of Emerson. Meeker tells Rose, a young girl, she must keep an old book, a 20th century novel about ecological warning, which later became the holy scriptures. Rose grew up and became the first legate, teaching others and as fanatic as she was, disabled Meeker, but keeps him locked because he knows about the xenomorph eggs aboard the Emerson. Each new Legate was chosen from a Bully to keep control over the population and is hinted that they used the Xenomorphs before.
Knowing the truth, Rachel goes into the ruins of the Emerson and ambushed legate Muir's caravan, killing a facehugged brother they are carrying back to town. They flee inside the ship with Rachel in tow. Inside, Muir uses his special mix who hide their scents from the Xenomorph, but one brother panics and flee, only to be killed by the alien. Rachel destroys the remaining eggs in the cargo hold and then confronts Muir. In that moment, the ghost marine from earlier appears, revealed to be an holographic security projection. As Muir mistakes it as a ghost, the alien attacks and kill him. Rachel kills the Xenomorph with a Pulse Rifle from the armory. She then back to town at sunset.
Aliens: Alchemy was eventually collected as part of Aliens Omnibus: Volume 5 in October 2008.
Behind the Scenes
John Arcudi is a veteran writer of Aliens and Predator comics, having also worked on Predator: God's Truth, Predator: Big Game, Aliens: Reapers, Aliens: Genocide, Aliens: Alien, Aliens: Stronghold, Aliens: More Than Human and Predator: Prey to the Heavens. He was also the original writer on Dark Horse Comics' The Mask, which was turned into a theatrical film of the same name starring Jim Carrey.
Artist Richard Corben was also the artist on the story Predator: 1718 and of the covers for the series Aliens vs. Predator: War, among work on other Ailens/Predator/Aliens vs. Predator-universe projects.