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Aliens (comics line)

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Cover to Aliens: Outbreak #1 by Mark A. Nelson.

The Aliens comic book line is a long-running series of comic books published by Dark Horse Comics based on the Alien franchise, chiefly the 1986 film Aliens. The line has included a number of limited series, one-shots and short stories, starting with the comic Aliens: Outbreak in July 1988.

Since the line's inception, Dark Horse has published a total of 68 different Aliens stories, as well as various collected editions, reprints and non-canon crossover comics. Of the four Dark Horse comic book lines set in the Alien vs. Predator universe, the Aliens line is by far the most extensive (and the longest-running).


Dark Horse Comics' Aliens line was preceded by Alien: The Illustrated Story in 1979, a comic book adaptation of the first film in the franchise (indeed, Alien: The Illustrated Story pre-dates the existence of Dark Horse Comics itself). As Dark Horse had no involvement with this comic (and do not hold the rights to it), it is not considered a part of the company's Aliens line and has never been collected in any form with the later Dark Horse releases.

According to the company's editors, Dark Horse decided early on to compose the line as a series of miniseries, one-shots and short stories, rather than a continuing unlimited series, in order to continually allow for new creative blood and the freedom to change creative direction, to avoid the need for filler issues or creative staleness, and to accommodate for possible/inevitable scheduling delays between series.

The line began in 1988 as an immediate continuation of the story after James Cameron's Aliens; the first two comics series (originally titled simply Aliens, later titled Aliens: Book One and Aliens: Book Two in collected form) featured the characters of Corporal Hicks and Newt as their main protagonists, while the third, Aliens: Female War, additionally reintroduced Alien-franchise heroine Lieutenant Ellen Ripley. These series dealt with a Xenomorph infestation on Earth, one of the central developments of the Aliens comics series.

However, following the release of the film Alien3 in 1992, which featured the deaths of Hicks, Newt and Ripley, Dark Horse edited the existing Aliens comics in order to keep the events and stories within relevant to the Alien universe. The names and identities of its key characters were changed — Hicks became Wilks, Newt became Billie and Ripley became a synthetic version of herself. The stories were also retitled in reprint editions to their current names: Aliens: Outbreak, Aliens: Nightmare Asylum and Aliens: Female War.

The effects of the Xenomorph infestation on Earth would continue to play a prominent or background role in all subsequent Aliens comics, but starting with the fourth miniseries (Aliens: Genocide), the stories would come to focus on new characters and events in the Aliens universe. Dozens of Aliens stories would follow, featuring work from top names in the comic book industry and incorporating a wide variety of artistic styles, from black and white, to painted airbrush, to typical comic book-style illustration.

1992 saw Dark Horse attempting to expand its Aliens comic book franchise to new markets. The company produced a series of mini-comics under the Aliens: Space Marines moniker intended for younger readers; these titles were packaged exclusively with a line of Aliens toys from Kenner Products. These comics, more light-hearted and child-friendly in tone than the mainstream Aliens stories, are not considered an official part of its overall universe and have generally been met with ridicule from long-time fans for their immature style. The same year, Dark Horse also expanded its Aliens line to the United Kingdom in the form of the revamped Aliens magazine, which the company took over from Trident Comics. While the venture initially met with great success, the global slump in comics sales during the mid-1990s saw the magazine cancelled two years later.

The Aliens line would reach its peak in 1993, with no less than eleven different Aliens comics stories or series published that year. In 1996, Dark Horse began a major "remastered" reprint program of some of the most important series in the Aliens line, under the Aliens Library Edition title. Comics ran regularly until 1999's Aliens: Xenogenesis, when the series (along with Dark Horse's Predator and Aliens vs. Predator lines) entered a ten-year hiatus. During this break, the only Aliens comics published were Omnibus collections of the existing comic books. The hiatus finally came to an end in 2009, when Dark Horse Comics relaunched the line with a new Aliens limited series titled Aliens: More Than Human. Beginning in January 2013, Dark Horse began issuing its back catalogue of Aliens comics — starting with the original 1988 series — as digital downloads via its subsidiary Dark Horse Digital, while more recent titles in the line have been published simultaneously in physical and digital formats.

Common themesEdit

Aliens comics stories are usually set in the same late-22nd century future as the first three movies of the Alien film series and often feature the Weyland-Yutani Corporation (or some other interplanetary corporate entity) and the United States Colonial Marine Corps, as seen in the Alien films. Other themes common to the series include a continued description of the future of human civilization, space colonization and mining, horror stories, and the continued experimentation on the Xenomorph species by rogue scientists. Corporate greed, the dangers of unchecked scientific ambition and a struggle for survival are usually involved. The stories are often used to explore new characters and other aspects of the Xenomorph species, such as their sociology and biology.

Despite the typical future setting, some stories have been set in other time periods, depicting Xenomorph outbreaks at different points in human history.

Aliens ComicsEdit

Aliens: Space Marines comicsEdit

See also: Aliens: Space Marines

Omnibus editionsEdit

See also: Omnibus

Crossover comicsEdit

See also: Crossover comics line

Novel AdaptationsEdit

Several of the comics in the Aliens line have been adapted into novels:

Non-Dark Horse ComicsEdit

As well as the numerous comics published by Dark Horse, a small number of Alien comics have also been released by other publishers. As Dark Horse had no involvement with these comics, they are not considered a part of the company's Aliens line and have never been collected in any form with the Dark Horse releases.

Cancelled ComicsEdit

At least two Aliens comics were planned but remain unreleased.

External LinksEdit


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