Aliens: Space Marines, also referred to as the Kenner comics, is a 13-issue mini-comic series that was published by Dark Horse Comics in 1992. They were included exclusively with certain figures from Kenner Products' Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator toy lines. The comics follow an elite team with specialized equipment who battle the Xenomorph menace across the galaxy.
Despite bearing the Aliens moniker, the mini-comics exist outside of the continuity of the mainstream comics line (and the film franchise on which it is based), ignoring the events of Alien3 and instead, following the post-Aliens adventures of Lieutenant Ripley and the "Space Marines" (including, confusingly, several characters who actually perished in the second film). The final issue, #13, concluded the series with an Aliens vs. Predator-themed comic.
Despite being published by Dark Horse Comics, the Space Marines mini-comics are considered entirely separate from the company's main Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator lines and do not fit into the continuity of those series. They are also markedly different in tone; whereas the vast majority of the mainstream Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator comics are somber tales that dwell on the death, destruction, and misery wrought by the Xenomorphs upon mankind, the Space Marines stories are instead colorful, lighthearted, child-friendly fare aimed at younger readers. They play heavily on the concept of the DNA reflex, prominently featuring a variety of Xenomorph types that have taken on unique traits from their hosts — all of which were represented in the Aliens toy line from Kenner Products that the comics were created to accompany.
The first eight mini-comics in the series — from Desert Storm to Fireball — were included with select figures from Series 1 of the Aliens toy line from Kenner. The comics form one continuous storyline, following the Space Marines as they battle the Alien scourge across the galaxy, with each installment typically ending on a cliffhanger that is then picked up in the next comic (to encourage readers to collect them all and, therefore, purchase all of the toys). The comics were written by Dan Jolley, lettered by Dan Nakrosis and edited by Dan Thorsland, with cover art by Joe Phillips (Marine figure comics) and Mark A. Nelson (Alien figure comics). A number of artists provided interior art for the series.
A further four mini-comics — from Night Strike to Ice Storm — were packaged with some of the figures from Series 2 of the Aliens toy line and continued the story. The comics were again written by Jolley and lettered by Nakrosis, while Phillips provided cover art alone. As with the first eight comics from Series 1, interior artwork was provided by different artists from comic to comic, although American artist John Nadeau penciled all four installments.
One final mini-comic was produced for Kenner's first Aliens vs. Predator two-figure set. The Space Marines play no part in this last comic, which instead features a stand-alone story pitting the titular Aliens and Predators against each other in a battle for supremacy.
Another mini-comic was to be released alongside the second series of Kenner's Aliens: Hive Wars toyline. While the comic itself was produced, albeit uncolored, it was never officially published. This comic followed a new team of Space Marines on a mission to the Alien Hiveworld, although a new version of Hicks did return.
The titular Space Marines in the comics are based on the Colonial Marines from the film Aliens, including several who supposedly perished in the movie, such as Apone and Drake (now promoted to Sergeant); no explanation is offered as to how these individuals are still alive. In fact, the relationship between the mini-comics and the films is confused at best — several of the Marines, including Apone, repeatedly make mention of events on Acheron, implying they were there and took part, yet at the same time Ripley seems to consider them different people to the ones she knew in the film. The Operation: Aliens Combat Game would later clear up some of this confusion by presenting the events on Acheron as entirely different from the events in Aliens.
In almost every case, the appearance of the characters in the comics differs significantly from how they were portrayed in the movie — for example, Bishop is now an advanced combat android with a bald head and a dark visor over his eyes, Apone has a cybernetic right arm and wears a prominent yellow "NO BUGS" t-shirt, and Drake has snowy-white hair.
Aliens: Space Marines Comics
- No. 1 Aliens: Desert Storm (included with Bishop action figure)
- No. 2 Aliens: Operation: Rescue (included with Scorpion Alien action figure)
- No. 3 Aliens: Hive War (included with Sgt. Apone action figure)
- No. 4 Aliens: Jungle Attack (included with Gorilla Alien action figure)
- No. 5 Aliens: Meltdown (included with Sgt. Drake action figure)
- No. 6 Aliens: Showdown (included with Corp. Hicks action figure)
- No. 7 Aliens: Stampede (included with Bull Alien action figure)
- No. 8 Aliens: Fireball (included with Lt. Ripley action figure)
- No. 9 Aliens: Night Strike (included with Snake Alien action figure)
- No. 10 Aliens: Swarm (included with Mantis Alien action figure)
- No. 11 Aliens: Terrordome (included with Queen Face Hugger action figure)
- No. 12 Aliens: Ice Storm (included with Rhino Alien action figure)
- No. 13 Aliens vs. Predator: The Ultimate Battle (included in Aliens vs. Predator 2-pack)
Dark Horse Comics
From 2016 onwards, NECA has been releasing figures that pay tribute to the toys of the Kenner era, and several of these updated figures have included a reprint of the Aliens: Space Marines mini-comic that came with the corresponding Kenner toy. The first of these, a recreation of Kenner's Space Marine Lt. Ripley figure, was a Toys "R" Us exclusive released as part of Alien Day 2016.
The complete series of Aliens mini-comics (not including Aliens vs. Predator: The Ultimate Battle) are due to be collected by Marvel Comics in Aliens Omnibus Volume 1, the first Aliens collection from the company following their acquisition of the rights. The collection is due to be published in April 2021. This will mark the first time the comics have been collected and published in amass market format.
- Several prominent members of the creative team behind the Aliens: Space Marines mini-comics would go on to work on the ambitious 1993 comic series Aliens: Colonial Marines, including writer Dan Jolley, artists Joe Phillips and John Nadeau, and editor Dan Thorsland.