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Aliens: Defiance is a 12-issue limited comic book series that was first published by Dark Horse Comics from April 2016-June 2017. It was also published simultaneously in the digital format via Dark Horse Digital. The story was written by Brian Wood, illustrated by Tristan Jones, Riccardo Burchielli, Tony Brescini, Stephen Thompson and Eduardo Francisco, colored by Dan Jackson, lettered by Nate Piekos, and edited by Spencer Cushing and Kevin Burkhalter, with cover art by Massimo Carnevale and Stephanie Hans. Hans, Sachin Teng and Mark A. Nelson also provided variant covers for the first issue. The series was released alongside the tie-in short story Aliens: Defiance - Extravehicular, produced by the same creative team.
The comic, set between Alien and Aliens, tells the story of Private Zula Hendricks, a rookie Colonial Marine who goes A.W.O.L. to defend Earth from the Xenomorphs. She is aided by Davis One, a Weyland-Yutani synthetic who has broken his programming and developed his own personal mission to stop the company from acquiring the creatures for research.
In the Aliens comics line, Aliens: Defiance was preceded by Aliens: Fire and Stone, published concurrently with Aliens: Defiance - Extravehicular, Aliens: Life and Death and Aliens: Dead Orbit, and was followed by Aliens: Dust to Dust.
#1: Colonial Marines aren't trained for this...
Battling demons from her past while fighting for her life, Colonial Marine Private First Class Zula Hendricks, in the company of Weyland-Yutani synthetics, is forced to question her strength and loyalty when the discovery of an insidious alien species on a derelict hauler sends her on a dangerous journey across the stars.
#2: Colonial Marine Hendricks and the Weyland-Yutani synthetic Davis break protocol, navigating the Europa to a distant science station discovered in the once-derelict ship's data records — a station that recently went dark. Following the trail of the alien species, they dive deeper into a conspiracy, uncovering just how much is riding on their choices.
#3: Mutiny aboard the Europa. After accessing a Weyland-Yutani network buoy which reprograms their directives, several Davis synthetics seek to take down the mysterious Davis 01 unit and take the ship back to Earth. Colonial Marine Zula Hendricks and Davis 01 must survive an organized tactical assault in deep space.
#4: Colonial Marine Private Zula Hendricks is AWOL deep in space along with the combat synthetic Davis 01, chasing the trail of the Xenomorph threat. But in the eerie quiet of a space graveyard the ghosts of her past are catching up with her, and Weyland-Yutani isn't far behind.
#5: Zula Hendricks and Davis are about to take on the Xenomorph threat as well as a squad of hardened Colonial Marines intent on capturing a specimen in a large midspace fueling station. How far is Zula willing to go to stop her fellow combatants?
#6: When Zula and Davis's plan to deny the Colonial Marines a Xenomorph sample hits a snag, their only remaining course of action may be something they can never come back from.
#7: In the aftermath of the intense battle against the Colonial Marines, Zula Hendricks and Davis have gone from being merely AWOL to full-blown traitors. As they drift into a quiet part of space to recover and regroup, new crew member Dr. Hollis discovers something in the medical bay that changes everything. Sometimes evil comes from within.
#8: Keeping a baby Xenomorph alive, even in a frozen state, contradicts all the survival instincts that Zula and Hollis have. But by studying the alien in cryostasis, Davis believes he can discover how to exterminate it and the rest of its forsaken, vile race permanently. Is he dooming the mission in the name of science?
#9: A fledgling Alien, kept alive in a deep freeze for the purpose of learning its weaknesses, wages a psychological war on Zula, Davis, and Hollis. They try to keep it together, but an attack on the Europa by space pirates forces the trio to weaponize what they seek to destroy.
#10: An attack on the Europa by space pirates leaves Zula, Davis, and Hollis on a barely functional ship. They now must return to Earth, where the Weyland-Yutani corporation is waiting and ready to put an end to their rogue mission.
#11: The mangled Europa is in a state of free fall in Earth’s atmosphere with Zula, Davis, Hollis, and a previously frozen xenomorph onboard. Davis battles the alien threat while Hollis and Zula scramble to the escape hatch. Impact is unavoidable; survival is doubtful.
#12: After her return to Earth, Zula Hendricks fully expects to answer for her defiance. But instead of military tribunals, what she experiences is a chilling look into the future of warfare, courtesy of Weyland-Yutani's R&D labs. Her mission may not be over just yet.
The series is described by writer Brian Wood as being a stand-alone horror-survival story in the vein of the films Alien and Aliens, unrelated to other Aliens/Predator/Aliens vs. Predator titles being published by Dark Horse Comics. During an interview with Newsarama, Wood also stated that Alien: Isolation protagonist Amanda Ripley would be making a cameo at the beginning of the comic.
Issues 1-6 of the series were collected, alongside the tie-in short Aliens: Defiance - Extravehicular, in a trade paperback titled Aliens: Defiance Volume 1, released on January 25, 2017. The collection reused Massimo Carnevale's cover artwork from issue 1.
Issues 7-12 were collected in a trade paperback titled Aliens: Defiance Volume 2, released on September 27, 2017. The second collection reused Carnevale's cover artwork from issue 3.
Behind the Scenes
Defiance was one of the comics selected to be a part of Dark Horse Comics' 30th anniversary variant cover program — issue 1 received a special Dark Horse Presents-styled variant cover by Mark A. Nelson, based on Matt Wagner's cover for DHP #40.
- With 12 issues, Aliens: Defiance is the longest ever Aliens comic series, ahead of Aliens: Colonial Marines, which ran for 10 issues (although that series was also originally planned to run for 12 issues, before this was reduced during its run). The only other comic of comparable length in the Aliens/Predator/Aliens vs. Predator universe is Aliens vs. Predator: Deadliest of the Species, which likewise ran for 12 issues.
- Aliens: Defiance is the second Aliens story to feature USCM personnel serving as antagonists, the first being Aliens: Nightmare Asylum.
- The covers for issues 3, 6 and 9 are the only ones in the series not to feature Zula.
- The presence of the M41A Pulse Rifle in the story is in fact anachronistic — several sources state the weapon was introduced in 2171, yet events in Aliens: Defiance take place in 2137-2138, more than 30 years before this.
- Towards the end of issue 1, Davis One states that, in addition to himself, there are six Davis units still operational aboard the Europa following the battles with the Xenomorphs. However, by studying the identifiable head numbers of the Davis units in the next two issues, at least eight different Davis units appear — 02, 03, 04 (also identified in dialogue), 07, 09, 18, 21 and 27.
- While Chestburster implantation has often been portrayed inconsistently across the franchise, taking anywhere between 24 hours and ten minutes, Defiance #6 seemingly shows it happening literally in moments. Specifically, Hollis is attacked by a horde of Facehuggers while Zula is attempting to open a door so that she can escape; the door is open in mere seconds, yet in that time a Facehugger has seemingly attacked Hollis, as she is seen pushing the parasite from her face with slime/blood around her lips. She is alter shown to have been impregnated with a Chestburster, despite the fleeting contact.
- "Newsarama - 'Classic' Aliens Action-Survival-Horror Promised In New Aliens: Defiance Ongoing". Retrieved on 2015-10-12.
- "Dark Horse Comics - Dark Horse Comics Debuts Yearlong 30th Anniversary Variant Program". Retrieved on 2016-01-29.