Aliens: Sacrifice is a four-part comic book story that was first published by Dark Horse International in Aliens magazine, Vol. 2 #9-12, from March-June 1993. It was written by Peter Milligan, illustrated and colored by Paul Johnson, lettered by Ellie De Ville, and edited by Dick Hansom. Aliens magazine, Vol 2 #9 and #12 also featured Aliens: Sacrifice covers by Johnson. At the time of release it was heralded by Dark Horse as "perhaps the most emotionally powerful Aliens tale you will ever read".
In the Aliens comics line, Aliens: Sacrifice was preceded by Aliens: Horror Show, published concurrently with Aliens: Colonial Marines, Aliens: Earth Angel, Aliens: Rogue and Alien3: Terminal Addiction, and was followed by Aliens: Taste and Aliens: Crusade.
Stranded on an isolated planet, Ann McKay takes shelter in a remote village that is being terrorized by an Alien. She soon discovers that its inhabitants are hiding a horrifying secret from her. But to discover the truth she has to face her own innermost demons, and try to save the souls of the villagers at the same time.
A ship crashes into an unknown desolate planet. The sole survivor of the crash, Ann McKay, manages to escape the burning ship relatively unscathed. Noticing an isolated human settlement from the ship window prior, she begins making her way through the jungle to the village, deeming that her only hope of survival. She encounters and examines a standing stone with a blood-red stain on it, before noticing from the corner of her eye a monstrous alien creature, causing her to flee. In an ethereal panic, she manages to stumble her way into the settlement by nightfall. She is let in and interrogated by a troubled man with a scarred face named Ricketts, before she passes out.
She is subsequently treated in bed by a man named John Masters who reveals that the settlement has been terrorized by the creature for roughly nine months after emerging from a crashed cargo ship, slaughtering its entire crew. One night, after a nightmare, Mckay notices a green light shining from her window. She peeks and notices a group of inhabitants enacting a strange procession. With a couple of villagers brandishing flares, they escort Ricketts outside of the settlement, who is holding a small object in his arms.
McKay goes on to explore the streets of the settlement, encountering a peculiar building with a locked door. As she hears the humming of a generator on the other side, she is attacked by Ricketts who threatens her, before being saved by Masters, who sends Ricketts off on his way. Masters subsequently proposes that McKay live with him, which she promptly rejects.
After suffering recurring nightmares of the Alien, she awakens and reveals to Masters and Ricketts that she is a priest and that the ship was on a voyage for missionary purposes. At night, McKay notices again the villager's odd ritual. After leaving her quarters, she is caught by Masters, and after the two share a moment of intimacy, McKay backs off, her celibacy disallowing her from forming a relationship with John.
Two days pass, and this time she follows Rickett and his entourage deep into the jungle. The villagers reach the standing stone, and Ricketts places another object on its surface, before briskly running away. McKay cautiously approaches the object, only to unravel it and reveal it to be a newborn baby. Much to her horror; the villagers of the settlement have been using newborns as sacrifices to pacify the Alien's wrath. Suddenly, the Xenomorph emerges from the jungle and McKay grabs the infant and desperately flees, the creature in hot pursuit. She eventually reaches a cliff edge and in a blind panic, falls over the edge. She awakens the next morning, only to find the baby missing. McKay returns to the settlement and strikes Masters, accusing the village of being "devil worshippers". In a fit of rage, Ricketts attacks McKay and reveals that because of her, the creature had breached the settlement and had killed two villagers and wounded three more in the chaos.
Masters escorts McKay to the mysterious locked building, and reveals to her that the newborns are "genetic creations" produced and processed by a large machine, only having a lifespan of a few hours. However, McKay isn't convinced of their methods, and accuses the settlement of depravity. To prove a point, she ultimately opts to face the creature alone, donning an armoured breastplate, a spear and a grenade given to her by Masters. She travels to the standing stone, and waits for the creature, who soon emerges. However, she is quickly overpowered. Expecting death, she is suddenly saved by the villagers, who net the creature and surround it with spears, though the creature escapes, and Ricketts is killed in the skirmish. The settlers ultimately lure the creature into a spiked pit, impaling it. McKay falls into the pit too, but is unharmed. Desiring to see the Devil's eyes in the creature, she pushes the grenade into the creature's mouth. It detonates and obliterates the Alien, also knocking McKay out.
McKay subsequently wakes up with Masters comforting her. It is revealed that the grenade explosion rendered her blind, and after seeing nothingness in the creatures' eyes, she renounces her faith. However, she finds solace in her new companionship with Masters.
Towards the end of the comic's original serialization in Aliens magazine, it was collected and released as a one-shot prestige-format comic book in the United States in May 1993, with cover art by Paul Johnson.
The comic was later collected, along with the story Aliens: Salvation, in the trade paperback Aliens: Salvation and Sacrifice in March 2001, edited by Chris Warner and with new cover art by Mike Mignola.
Behind the Scenes
Prior to its American one-shot release, a short preview of the comic was published in Dark Horse Insider, Vol. 2 #16.
Sacrifice's somewhat convoluted initial publication history means that, curiously, while the comic was first seen by British readers and was exclusive to the UK for two months, American fans were actually the first to read the conclusion to the story, whereas UK readers had to wait a further month before seeing the finale.
The comic is notably the only original story solicited for Aliens magazine that has been collected and released outside of the publication. In fact, it is the only original story created for the magazine that was actually completed (not counting the short comic/advertisement Alien3: Terminal Addiction). Of the other original stories in the magazine, the final two issues of Aliens: Crusade were never published, while Aliens: Matrix was never published at all, due to the fact that Dark Horse International, who published Aliens magazine, went out of business.