WildC.A.T.s/Aliens is a one-shot crossover comic book that was first published by WildStorm (while still a part of Image Comics) and Dark Horse Comics in August 1998. It was written by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Chris Sprouse, inked by Kevin Nowlan, colored by Joseph Damon and Laura DePuy, lettered by Bill Oakley and edited by Scott Dunbier, with cover art by Gil Kane and Nowlan. Sprouse also provided a variant cover for the issue. Despite its title implying it is purely a WildC.A.T.s story, the comic is actually far more pertinent to the related StormWatch comic series, and features the deaths of several characters from the StormWatch team.
When an escape pod crash-lands on New York with injured StormWatch agent Flint enclosed, the WildC.A.T.s decide to get involved. Void teleports the team up to SkyWatch and into the middle of a disaster zone. They discover two things; for one, the aliens aren't Daemonite and two, they are going to have one hell of a time getting the survivors, and themselves, off the space station alive. But how can even the WildC.A.T.s survive an encounter with the Aliens when StormWatch has already fallen? Get ready for a horror/sci-fi/super hero slugfest the likes that has never been seen before!
The story opens with a StormWatch escape pod, containing a scarred Flint, crash landing in New York City. The resulting rescue, retrieval and debriefing are witnessed by Grifter and Void. Upon hearing Flint's description of an unknown alien species that has infested the StormWatch space station, Skywatch, Grifter mistakenly believes the creatures to be Daemonites and quickly gathers up the original WildC.A.T.s team, minus Voodoo, for a rescue mission.
Void teleports the team to Skywatch, where they quickly uncover a video log and security tapes depicting the events that led up to the attack — when a mysterious asteroid was detected passing nearby, a StormWatch science team was dispatched to take surface samples and plant explosives to redirect the rock into the sun. Skywatch lost contact with the team, although their ships later automatically returned to Skywatch. The ships were revealed to be full of Xenomorphs, which rapidly invaded Skywatch, slaughtering and impregnating the majority of the crew. The StormWatch superhuman team attempted to fight the creatures off but were ultimately wiped out. However, the WildC.A.T.s find indications of a small group of survivors hidden somewhere on Skywatch.
After watching the footage, the WildC.A.T.s begin a search for the survivors, eventually finding them hidden in the cryogenic lock-down section. The survivors include Jackson King, Christine Trelane, Winter and 96 other crew members. With help of Void, most of the crew and all of the WildC.A.T.s escape, injured but alive. Winter, however, stays behind to pilot Skywatch into the sun, ensuring that the Xenomorphs cannot escape and spread to Earth.
The dead StormWatch members were Fuji, Hellstrike and Fahrenheit. Winter was believed dead at the time of the crossover, but later returned in an Authority one-shot titled Scorched Earth. The StormWatch Black team (consisting of Jenny Sparks, Jack Hawksmoor and Swift) were not on board the station and made no appearances during the crossover, and were likewise spared. They would go on to form the core of The Authority.
WildC.A.T.s/Aliens was collected in a trade paperback alongside two issues of the StormWatch series, namely Volume 2 issues 10 and 11, which form part of the same story arc but do not feature the Xenomorphs themselves. The trade paperback, entitled StormWatch: Final Orbit, was published in August 2001 and featured cover artwork by Bryan Hitch.
The publisher WildStorm was eventually purchased by DC Comics, and the comic was later collected again, alongside the crossover stories that pit the DC character Batman against the Xenomorphs, in the DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics: Aliens trade paperback, released in April 2016. The release used a modified version of Staz Johnson's cover to Batman vs. Aliens II #2.
Behind the Scenes
Despite its title implying it is purely a WildC.A.T.s story, the comic is actually far more pertinent to the related StormWatch comic series. Set between the events of StormWatch, Vol. 2 #10 and #11 (and between WildC.A.T.s, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), the story was conceived as a means to disband the StormWatch superhero team, thin out its cast of characters, and set the stage for a relaunched team in the same universe known as The Authority. It forms part of a story arc started in StormWatch, Vol. 2 #10 and concluded in StormWatch, Vol. 2 #11, although the Xenomorphs themselves only appear in the WildC.A.T.s/Aliens crossover one-shot.
While none of the crossover comics are considered canon with regards to the Aliens/Predator/Alien vs. Predator franchises, WildC.A.T.s/Aliens is one of a select few that forms an official, canonical part of the other comic book franchise involved; its impact on the StormWatch/WildC.A.T.s universe was permanent and ushered in a new era for the franchise. Other examples that are likewise considered canon in their parent series include Predator versus Judge Dredd, Agents of Law #6, Judge Dredd versus Aliens: Incubus and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In Space No One Can Hear You Slay!. However, none of these comics are considered canon in the Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator franchise.
When the idea for the crossover was explained to him, writer Warren Ellis was less than enthusiastic, labelling the idea "bloody stupid". However, he was won over when he was told that he "could kill any character he wanted". It was this free hand that allowed him to clear the StormWatch cast and launch a new superhero team populated with his own characters (the exception being Swift).
Scott Dunbier, the editor in charge of the StormWatch series at the time, explained the thinking behind the crossover: "One of my goals was that this should be a book with lasting effects, unlike the usual cross-company epics that come and go and mean nothing. Since Warren Ellis was wrapping up his run on StormWatch, before diving into The Authority, I thought it would be an interesting idea to kill off a large portion of the remaining StormWatch characters, the ones that wouldn't be moving on to the new book."
- First Impressions - WildCATS/Aliens #1
- Review of the one shot
- Review of Final Orbit, Comics Bulletin
- WildC.A.T.s/Aliens - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia