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|This article is about the comic book series. For the novel, see Aliens: The Female War (novel).|
Aliens: Female War, originally titled Aliens: Earth War and also known as Aliens, Vol. 3: Female War, is a four-issue limited comic book series that was first published by Dark Horse Comics from June-October 1990. It was written by Mark Verheiden, illustrated by Sam Kieth, colored by Monika Livingston, lettered by Pat Brosseau, and edited Diana Schutz, with cover art by John Bolton.
The series is one of the few Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comic books to serve as a direct sequel to an earlier story. Specifically, it continues where the previous series, Aliens: Nightmare Asylum, left off. It originally acted as a continuation of the 1986 film Aliens, featuring the characters of Hicks, Newt and Ripley, but following the release of Alien3 in 1992, some reprinted editions have been edited in order to fit with the events of that movie.
In the Aliens comics line, Aliens: Female War was preceded by Aliens: Nightmare Asylum, published concurrently with Aliens: Advent/Terminus and Aliens: Countdown, and was followed by Aliens: Reapers. The non-Dark Horse comic Do Aliens Dream? was also released concurrently, although it is not considered a part of the line.
#1: The Aliens still dominate the Earth, but Hicks and Newt are determined to free the planet — no matter the cost! Now, they are not alone in their struggle. An old friend and comrade comes out of hiding to aid them in their struggle, but will that be enough to win the day?
#2: Newt joins Ripley's crew as they set off from Gateway Station. Their mission: to trap the Alien Queen Mother... and bring her back to Earth! Meanwhile, on Earth, humans are still being terrorized by the Alien infestation — and worse, it looks like the planet is somehow starting to change, to reform, but into what?
#3: This issue we're in for lots of female trouble when Ripley and her crew travel to the Aliens' home planet in an effort to capture the Alien Queen Mother. Her highness has other plans, however, as she sends her "babies" to take out Ripley's team, leaving the two species' feistiest females to battle it out one-on-one! Meanwhile, the armored personnel carrier, which has transported the crew to the Alien hive, is headed for a nuclear meltdown — leaving our team stranded on the planet with no way to return to their ship!
#4: All the stops are out! Ripley and her crew transport the Alien Queen Mother to Earth and prepare themselves for the final showdown. While Ripley is rigging bombs for a major meltdown of both the planet and its alien infestation, Newt is stealing away to try to save the life of a lone little girl. With the clock ticking down, Newt is lost inside a mountain teeming with the alien horde — and Ripley finds herself exactly where she wants to be: face-to-face with her highness!
Aliens, Vol. 3: Female War
Billie only wanted what all children want — the warmth and security of family, the human connectedness that comes from belonging. What she got was a nightmare without end. Dark Horse is proud to present the third volume in the remastered Aliens series, Aliens: Female War. Written by The Mask screenplay writer Mark Verheiden and illustrated by The Maxx artist/creator Sam Kieth, Female War is a revised edition of what was previously titled Aliens: Earth War.
History and Alterations
The first three limited series in the Aliens comics line are unique in that their content has been significantly edited several times since release.
Conceived as a sequel to James Cameron's Aliens, Female War originally continued the stories of Ripley, Hicks and Newt through further adventures several years after the events of the film. However, following the release of Alien3 in 1992 — in which all three characters perished — Dark Horse elected to edit its early stories in order to keep them relevant to the Alien film series. To this end, the names and therefore identities of several individuals were changed to remove any direct connection to the movies. These alterations first appeared in the novel adaptation of Aliens: Outbreak, Aliens: Earth Hive by Steve Perry, in which Hicks became Wilks and Newt was now known as Billie; these new characters were then carried over into the subsequent novel adaptation of Female War, co-written by Perry and his daughter Stephani, in which Ripley additionally became a synthetic version of herself.
When Dark Horse later came to reprint the Female War comic itself as part of the Aliens Library Editions series, it was similarly edited to feature the altered identities of Wilks and Billie; the character of Ripley was not changed and she remained the same human character she had been in the original release (no doubt because turning her into a synthetic would have required significant modification and/or expansion of the comic far beyond simply altering names). As such, even the edited versions of the series offer no explanation as to how Ellen Ripley can still be alive after her supposed death on Fiorina "Fury" 161; only the novel includes the extra material regarding the discovery that she is in fact an android duplicate, and her subsequent struggles with this revelation. In addition to the altered names, several text-boxes are edited throughout the comic, while the fourth and fifth pages in the original release are removed entirely (as they mentioned events from Aliens).
The modified version of the comic went on to become the standard edition, and for many years the original version was out of print and essentially unavailable. However, more recently the early Aliens series have seemingly reverted to the original characters — in 2016, Dark Horse published Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series, a special hardback collection containing the original, unedited version of Aliens: Outbreak, and this was followed in 2017 by Aliens: The Original Comics Series Volume 2, which similarly contained the original, unmodified versions of Aliens: Nightmare Asylum and Aliens: Female War. All subsequent reprints of the comic have used the original identities of Hicks and Newt, although the modified versions are still available digitally through Dark Horse Digital.
Dark Horse Comics
After its original comic book run as Aliens: Earth War from June-October 1990, the miniseries was collected and released in a trade paperback version in July 1991 with a new cover by John Bolton. This was followed by a second, limited edition collected release in December 1991 with the same cover.
In September 1993, the series was again collected for inclusion in The Compleat Aliens, a deluxe limited edition hardcover which for the first time collected all of the early Dark Horse Aliens comics into a single volume, including Aliens: Book One, Aliens: Book Two, Aliens: Earth War and the previous trade paperback Dark Horse Presents: Aliens. This slipcovered edition was Smythe-sewn and featured a foil-stamped, bonded-leather binding with specially printed end papers, and included a gallery featuring many of the collections' original covers as well as a signature page signed by many of the creators and featuring new Aliens art from the artists who worked on the original comics. The release was edited by Kij Johnson and limited to only 500 copies.
In 1996, the story was edited and re-released under the title Aliens, Vol. 3: Female War. This release was part of Dark Horse's "remastered" Aliens Library Editions series — reprints that attempted to bring the content of all of Dark Horse's previously released Aliens comics in line with the updated continuity presented by Alien3. Thus, the new character names created for the 1992 novelization of the first Dark Horse Aliens series (Aliens: Earth Hive by Steve Perry) were edited into the story in place of the original characters that had since died in the third film. The comic was also recolored by illustrator Sam Kieth. Female War was edited by Lynn Adair and featured a new cover by Bolton.
In April 2017, the original version of the series was published for the first time in 24 years when it was collected as part of Aliens: The Original Comics Series Volume 2. This version was a hardcover, "oversized" (8 × 12) format collector's edition, featuring the original, unedited 1990 version of the story (including the original characters of Hicks and Newt). The collection also included the previous series Aliens: Nightmare Asylum.
Following Marvel Comics' acquisition of the rights to Alien comic books, the series was collected as part of Marvel's Aliens: The Original Years Volume One collection, alongside many other early Dark Horse stories. The collection was released in May 2021.
Behind the Scenes
As with its two predecessors, Earth War was written by Mark Verheiden. Considered a hugely influential figure in the Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator comics lines, Verheiden also wrote Predator: Concrete Jungle, the first ever Predator comic, along with several other core comic book stories in the Aliens and Predator lines. Aside from his contributions to those franchises, he has worked on the likes of Superman for DC Comics, and wrote the scripts for the feature films The Mask and Timecop, both of which are based on Dark Horse properties, the latter being a Verheiden creation. In recognition of his contributions to the Alien vs. Predator universe, the mercenary Mark Verheiden in the film Alien vs. Predator was named after the author.
- Earth War was the first Aliens comic to have a distinct subtitle; the previous three comics had simply been called Aliens (although they have since been renamed and given subtitles of their own, to help differentiate them).
- Aliens: Earth War 1-4 (AKA Aliens Book 3 & Female War, by Mark Verheiden and Sam Kieth, Dark Horse, 176 pages, 1991, ISBN 1-878574-23-X)