|"I got signals, I got readings, in front and behind!"|
"Where, man? I don't see shit."
Aliens: Crusade is an incomplete 10-part comic book story that was published by Dark Horse Comics in its UK-based Aliens magazine, Vol. 2 #13-20, from July 1993-February 1994. It was written by Michael Cook, illustrated and inked by Christian Gorny, colored by Nick Abadzis, lettered by Woodrow Phoenix and edited by Cefn Ridout. The ambitious, richly illustrated story dealt with the fate of England during the Xenomorph invasion of Earth, as chronicled in the early Aliens comics.
Only the first eight parts of the comic were ever published; the ninth and tenth installments were originally set to appear in Aliens magazine, Vol. 2 #21-22, but were delayed until issues 23-24 to allow the artists extra time to complete them. Aliens magazine was then cancelled after issue 22 as Dark Horse International, who published the magazine, went out of business. This left the remaining two episodes of the comic unpublished. To this day, the final parts have never been released and the comic has never been collected in any form.
In the Aliens comics line, Aliens: Crusade was preceded by Aliens: Sacrifice, published concurrently with Aliens: Colonial Marines, Aliens: Rogue, Aliens: Taste, Aliens: Backsplash, The Compleat Aliens, Aliens: Labyrinth, Aliens: Salvation, Aliens: Cargo, Aliens: Alien, Aliens: Music of the Spears and Operation: Aliens, and was followed by Aliens: Stronghold.
Earthwar! The very thought of it still brings fear to the hearts in small pockets of humanity which survived the global Xenomorph infestation. The fear, rage and greed of Minecorp and its high-paid, hi-tech unit of elite corporate mercenaries, offer an Aliens clean-up service for the right price.
After nuking and mopping-up a swarm of bugs in the Middle East, the triumphant hired guns return to homebase where they’re given their next assignment. It appears that one city, on a small mining island off the west coast of Europe, had mysteriously warded off the Alien plague, and Minecorp is eager to find out why, and if the answer could be turned into profit. Accordingly, a group of mercenaries sets off for this once proud capital of an empire that spanned the globe, but has now fallen on desperate times—London.
London, circa 22nd century, has descended into a tribal existence operating on territorial imperatives. Rani, a seer in this tribe, fears that the reports from a rival caste (the Wests) of monsters stalking the city are true, but can offer no concrete proof. Though the revelations of the mercenaries about the global Xenomorph infestation confirm her views, the others in the tribe, particularly the leader, Artie, remain unconvinced.
Meanwhile, the mercenaries have arrived in London in an Armored Personnel Carrier, which provides a very real threat to the low-tech locals who go on the offensive, stranding the vehicle on a motorway ledge.
Come nightfall, a group of cloaked men abduct some villagers and transport them to an ominous cathedral in the center of the city. En rout, one of their party is attacked by a facehugger and the stricken individual is handed over to the church’s Archbishop, who drags him up to the cathedral’s tower. There, the doomed soul comes face to face with and Alien Queen, just as a chestburster erupts from his sacrificial body.
Back at the village, the tribes people accuse the outsiders of causing the disappearance of their fellow villagers, and place them in chains. Rani doesn’t accept this and helps them escape, joining the “spacemen” in their mission to unlock the sinister secrets of the city which may also help her find her missing soulmate, Martha. They flee on stolen horses and head for cover in the city’s long disused transport tunnels.
A surprise sniper attack eliminates Minecorp’s Huxley, but the others finally find refuge in the tunnels. Or so they think. When two chestbursters erupt from their horses, they know that their motion trackers might be picking up more than rats.
In the tunnels they are set upon by a horde of fully-grown aliens who wreak bloody havoc, separating Channon, the leader of the mercenaries, from Rani and the remaining Minecorp rep, Foston, who narrowly elude the aliens. Channon emerges from the tunnels only to be set upon by another tribe, where she meets Lesley Sayle, the wife of one of her team, Foston, and a member of an earlier Minecorp survey that went M.I.A. With Sayle’s help, they take a deadly boat ride down the Thames and to apparent freedom.
The fact that the group had encountered fully grown aliens meant the creatures had breached the security of the city’s cathedral where Archbishop Mahon had nurtured them, alongside their queen in a foolish attempt to contain their evil within the church. Some of Mahon’s congregation are becoming suspicious that this man of God is in league with the devil when one of the bishops announces the arrival of an off-worlder, Foston, who has a very curious tale to tell.
They inform Mahon that his plan has failed and that there are aliens roaming the city. Mahon refuses to concede that they have anything to fear as long as they trust in God and appease the aliens in their keeping. A pity the well-fed aliens don’t see it that way, as they chase the Archbishop and his guests from the cathedral and into the arms of their brood waiting outside.
Aliens: Crusade has never been collected or reissued and remains incomplete.
Behind the Scenes
The solicitations for the final installments of Crusade can be found in various promotional publications from Dark Horse Comics, such as Dark Horse Insider and Previews, and constitute the only information ever released about the missing episodes. The solicitation for part nine reveals that the issue would have been "where the horrors of the cathedral are revealed", while in part ten the story "reaches its conclusion with a climactic confrontation between Channon and the Alien Queen in the River Thames."
To this day, it is unknown whether the final parts of the story were actually completed, or whether the cancellation of the magazine meant they were scrapped before they were finished. However, issue 23 of Aliens magazine had been solicited, and so fans remain hopeful that the completed artwork does exist and will be included in a reprint in the future.
- Aliens: Crusade is one of the few Aliens comics — along with Aliens: The Alien, Aliens: Genocide, Aliens: Music of the Spears and Aliens (2009 short story) — that illustrates developments on Earth after its infestation by Xenomorphs and thereby explains how the planet was able to recover from such a devastating event.