Aliens: Theory of Alien Propagation, originally titled Aliens, is a comic book short story that was first published by Dark Horse Comics in the anthology series Dark Horse Presents, Vol. 1 #24, in November 1988. Originally published in black and white, the story was written by Mark Verheiden and Mark A. Nelson, illustrated, inked and lettered by Nelson and edited by Randy Stradley. The issue of Dark Horse Presents also featured Aliens cover art by Nelson. The comic serves as a tie-in to the six-issue series Aliens: Outbreak, produced by the same creative team.
The story is written in the form of an in-universe report by Aliens: Outbreak character Dr. Waidslaw Orona on the reproductive cycle of the Xenomorph, with accompanying imagery of Alien life and development. It shows Xenomorphs spreading via the impregnation of humans and other alien species, and also documents the creatures building one of their Hives, all accompanied by excerpts from Orona's report.
Shortly after its publication in Dark Horse Presents #24, the Aliens short story was given a stand-alone release as a mini-comic, published in February 1989. This edition featured new cover art by Mark A. Nelson and also included seven plates by Nelson showcasing Aliens artwork.
The short story was later collected as part of Aliens: Book One, a trade paperback re-release of Aliens: Outbreak, published in November 1989. A deluxe hard cover edition of Aliens: Book One, again including the Aliens short story, was released in June 1990.
The story received its current title, Aliens: Theory of Alien Propagation, when it was collected alongside a number of other Aliens short stories featured in Dark Horse Presents in the Dark Horse Presents: Aliens trade paperback. The issue was published in April 1992 and featured a new cover by Simon Bisley, while the story itself was colored by Chris Chalenor.
The comic was collected and released again as part of Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series, released on April 26, 2016 as part of Alien Day. This version was a hardcover, "oversized" (8 × 12) format collector's edition, featuring the original, unedited 1988 version of Aliens: Outbreak (including the original characters of Hicks and Newt). The collection also included a second related short story, Aliens: Lucky, along with a pin-up gallery of the original issue cover artwork, a foreword by Verheiden, an afterword by Nelson and a selection of Nelson's original pitch artwork. All three comics were presented in black and white, with Lucky being specially converted from its original color format for this release.
Behind the Scenes
The comic is notable as one of the few Aliens stories to depict an alien species other than the Xenomorphs. Other notable non-Xenomorph aliens featured in the franchise include the Reapers from Aliens: Reapers, the reptilian Xenomorph-eating alien from Aliens: Taste, the alien pilot shown in Aliens: Earth Angel, the hunting village aliens from Aliens: Alien, the extraterrestrial scientists in Aliens: Incubation, the alien monkeys in Aliens: Fire and Stone and, of course, the Predators and Engineers. While such species were originally limited to Aliens comics from Dark Horse, several recent Alien novels have also introduced non-Xenomorph species, such as Alien: Out of the Shadows and Aliens: Bug Hunt.
- The content of the comic is recreated in the form of a presentation described in the novel Aliens: Earth Hive, an adaptation of Aliens: Outbreak (in which Orona is a major character).
- The fictitious "Theory of Alien Propagation" by Waidslaw Orona is one of a number of in-universe books or articles that have been mentioned in various Aliens media, including The Evolution of Television by Emmet Webster (from Aliens: Book One), Cyberantics by Stanislaw Mayakovsky (from Aliens: Harvest) and Space Beast by Robert Morse (from Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report).