The Aliens comic book line is a long-running series of comic books published by Dark Horse Comics based on the Alien franchise, chiefly the 1986 film Aliens. The line has included a number of limited series, one-shots and short stories, starting with the comic Aliens: Outbreak (originally titled simply Aliens) in July 1988.
Since the line's inception, Dark Horse has published a total of 72 different Aliens stories, as well as various collected editions, reprints and non-canon crossover comics that introduce the titular Alien species to other franchises. Of the four Dark Horse comic book lines set in the Alien vs. Predator universe, the Aliens line is by far the most extensive (and the longest-running).
Dark Horse Comics' Aliens line was preceded by Alien: The Illustrated Story in 1979, a graphic novel adaptation of Alien, the first film in the franchise. In fact, Alien: The Illustrated Story not only pre-dates Dark Horse's Aliens line, it pre-dates the existence of the company itself. As Dark Horse had no involvement with this comic (and do not hold the rights to it), it is not considered a part of the company's Aliens line and has never been collected in any form with the later Dark Horse releases.
Origins and development
According to the company's editors, Dark Horse decided early on to that their Aliens comic book line would consist of a series of miniseries, one-shots and short stories, rather than a continuing unlimited series, in order to allow for new creative blood and the freedom to change creative direction, to avoid the need for filler issues or creative staleness, and to accommodate possible/inevitable scheduling delays between series.
The line began in 1988 as an immediate continuation of the story after James Cameron's Aliens; the first two comic series (originally titled simply Aliens, later retitled Aliens: Book One and Aliens: Book Two in collected form) featured the characters of Corporal (now promoted to Sergeant) Hicks and Newt as their main protagonists, while the third, Aliens: Earth War, additionally reintroduced Alien-franchise heroine Ellen Ripley. However, following the release of the film Alien3 in 1992, which saw Hicks, Newt and Ripley all perish on Fiorina "Fury" 161, Dark Horse edited the initial Aliens comics in order to keep the events and stories within relevant to the Alien universe. To this end, the names and identities of its key characters were changed — Hicks became Wilks, Newt became Billie and Ripley became a synthetic version of herself. The stories were also retitled in reprint editions to their current names: Aliens: Outbreak, Aliens: Nightmare Asylum and Aliens: Female War.
These first three series formed a continuous story arc, concerning a Xenomorph infestation overrunning Earth and the later reclaiming of the planet for humanity, with each series picking up where the preceding story left off. This style would prove to be somewhat unconventional in the Aliens comics line; the vast majority of subsequent titles have been stand-alone, self-contained tales. Following the original trilogy, the comics also moved away from their reliance on existing individuals from the films and, starting with the fourth miniseries (Aliens: Genocide), began to focus on original characters and events in the Aliens universe. Despite this, the infestation of Earth and its effects would continue to play a prominent or background role in numerous subsequent Aliens comics. Stories featured work from top names in the comic book industry and incorporated a wide variety of artistic styles, from black and white, to painted airbrush, to typical comic book-style illustration.
1992 saw Dark Horse attempt to expand its Aliens comic book franchise to new markets. The company produced a series of mini-comics under the Aliens: Space Marines moniker intended for younger readers; these titles were packaged exclusively with a line of Aliens toys from Kenner Products. The comics, more light-hearted and child-friendly in tone than the mainstream Aliens stories, are not considered an official part of its overall universe and have generally been met with ridicule from long-time fans for their immature style. The same year, Dark Horse also expanded its Aliens line to the United Kingdom in the form of a revamped Aliens magazine, which the company had taken over from previous publisher Trident Comics. While the venture initially met with great success, the global slump in comics sales during the mid-1990s saw the magazine cancelled two years later.
The Aliens comics line would reach its peak in 1993, with no less than eleven different Aliens series or stories published that year. In 1996, Dark Horse began a major "remastered" reprint program of some of the most important series in the line, under the Aliens Library Edition moniker.
Hiatus and relaunch
Aliens comics ran regularly until 1999's Aliens: Xenogenesis, when the line (along with Dark Horse's Predator and Aliens vs. Predator lines) entered a deliberate ten-year hiatus. During this break, the only Aliens comics published were Omnibus collections of the existing comic books.
The break in Aliens comics finally came to an end in 2009, when Dark Horse relaunched the line with a new limited series titled Aliens: More Than Human. Beginning in January 2013, Dark Horse began issuing its back catalogue of Aliens comics — starting with the original series, Aliens: Outbreak — as digital downloads via its subsidiary Dark Horse Digital. More recent titles in the line have been published simultaneously in both physical and digital formats.
End of publication/move to Marvel
Following the purchase of 20th Century Fox by Disney, the license to produce Aliens comics moved to Marvel (along with the Predator and Alien vs. Predator lines), thus bringing Dark Horse's involvement with the franchise to an end after more than 30 years. As a result of the change in ownership, publication of the ongoing series Alien: The Original Screenplay was affected, although the series was ultimately completed.
Aliens comics stories are usually set in the same late-22nd century future as the first three movies of the Alien film series and often feature the Weyland-Yutani Corporation (or a comparable interplanetary corporate entity) and the United States Colonial Marine Corps. Similarly to the Alien movies, very few of the comics take place on Earth, tending instead to be set in remote, isolated deep space locations. Other themes common to the Aliens line include a continued exploration of the future of human civilization, space colonization and mining, horror stories, and the continued experimentation on the Xenomorph species by rogue scientists. Corporate greed, the dangers of unchecked scientific ambition and a struggle for survival are usually involved. The stories are often used to explore new characters and wider aspects of the Xenomorph species, such as their sociology and biology.
Despite the typical extrasolar, futuristic setting, some stories have been set on Earth or in other time periods, depicting Xenomorph outbreaks at different points in human history, although such stories are comparatively rare.
- Aliens: Newt's Tale (June-July 1992)
- Alien3 (June-July 1992)
- Alien Resurrection (Oct-Nov 1997)
- Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay (Nov 2018-Mar 2019) aka William Gibson's Alien 3
- Alien: The Original Screenplay (Aug-Dec 2020)
- Aliens: Outbreak (July 1988-July 1989) aka Aliens and Aliens: Book One
- Aliens: Theory of Alien Propagation (Nov 1988) aka Aliens
- Aliens: Nightmare Asylum (Aug 1989-May 1990) aka Aliens and Aliens: Book Two
- Aliens: Female War (June-Oct 1990) aka Aliens: Earth War
- Aliens: Advent/Terminus (July-Aug 1990)
- Aliens: Countdown (Sept 1990-Dec 1991)
- Aliens: Reapers (Apr 1991)
- Aliens: The Alien (Nov 1991)
- Aliens: Genocide (Nov 1991-Feb 1992)
- Aliens: Harvest (Feb-May 1992) aka Aliens: Hive
- Aliens: Tribes (Apr 1992)
- Alien3: Alone (May 1992)
- Aliens: Renegade (Aug-Sept 1992) aka Renegade
- Aliens: Horror Show (Oct-Dec 1992)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines (Jan 1993-July 1994)
- Aliens: Earth Angel (Jan 1993-Jan 1994)
- Aliens: Rogue (Apr-July 1993)
- Aliens: Sacrifice (Mar-June 1993)
- Alien3: Terminal Addiction (June 1993)
- Aliens: Taste (July 1993)
- Aliens: Crusade (July 1993-Feb 1994, incomplete)
- Aliens: Backsplash (Aug-Sept 1993)
- Aliens: Labyrinth (Sept 1993-Jan 1994)
- Aliens: Salvation (Nov 1993)
- Aliens: Cargo (Nov-Dec 1993)
- Aliens: Alien (Jan-Feb 1994)
- Aliens: Music of the Spears (Jan-Apr 1994)
- Operation: Aliens (Jan 1994)
- Aliens: Stronghold (May-Sept 1994)
- Aliens: Mondo Pest (June-Aug 1994)
- Aliens: Frenzy (Jan-Apr 1995) aka Aliens: Berserker
- Aliens: Incubation (Sept-Oct 1995)
- Aliens: Mondo Heat (Feb 1996)
- Aliens: Lucky (Sept 1996)
- Aliens: Lovesick (Dec 1996)
- Aliens: Headhunters (Jan 1997)
- Aliens: Pig (Mar 1997)
- Aliens: Border Lines (May 1997)
- Aliens: Special (June 1997)
- Aliens: Havoc (June-July 1997)
- Aliens: Purge (Aug 1997)
- Aliens: Alchemy (Sept-Dec 1997)
- Aliens: Kidnapped (Dec 1997-Feb 1998)
- Aliens: Tourist Season (Feb 1998)
- Aliens: Survival (Feb-Apr 1998)
- Aliens: Glass Corridor (June 1998)
- Aliens: Stalker (June 1998)
- Aliens: Wraith (July 1998)
- Aliens: Apocalypse (Jan-May 1999) aka Aliens: Apocalypse - The Destroying Angels
- Aliens: Once in a Lifetime (Feb 1999)
- Aliens: Xenogenesis (Aug-Nov 1999)
- Free Comic Book Day: Aliens/Predator (May 2009)
- Aliens: More Than Human (May-Dec 2009) aka Aliens
- Aliens: Fast Track to Heaven (Nov 2011)
- Aliens: Inhuman Condition (May-Oct 2012)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines - No Man Left Behind (July 2012)
- Alien: Isolation (July 2014)
- Aliens: Field Report (Sept 2014)
- Aliens: Fire and Stone (Sept-Dec 2014)
- Aliens: Defiance (Apr 2016-June 2017)
- Aliens: Defiance - Extravehicular (May 2016)
- Aliens: Life and Death (Sept-Dec 2016)
- Aliens: Dead Orbit (Apr-Dec 2017)
- Aliens: Dust to Dust (Apr-Oct 2018)
- Aliens: Resistance (Jan-Apr 2019)
- Aliens: Rescue (July-Oct 2019)
Aliens: Space Marines comics
- See also: Aliens: Space Marines
- Aliens: Desert Storm
- Aliens: Operation: Rescue
- Aliens: Hive War
- Aliens: Jungle Attack
- Aliens: Meltdown
- Aliens: Showdown
- Aliens: Stampede
- Aliens: Fireball
- Aliens: Night Strike
- Aliens: Swarm
- Aliens: Terrordome
- Aliens: Ice Storm
- Dark Horse Presents: Aliens (Apr 1992)
- The Compleat Aliens (Sept 1993)
- Aliens: Salvation and Sacrifice (Mar 2001)
- Aliens Omnibus: Volume 1 (July 2007)
- Aliens Omnibus: Volume 2 (Dec 2007)
- Aliens Omnibus: Volume 3 (Mar 2008)
- Aliens Omnibus: Volume 4 (July 2008)
- Aliens Omnibus: Volume 5 (Oct 2008)
- Aliens Omnibus: Volume 6 (Dec 2008)
- Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series (Apr 2016)
- Aliens: The Original Comics Series Volume 2 (Apr 2017)
- Aliens/Predator/Prometheus/AVP: Fire and Stone (Apr 2018)
- Prometheus/Aliens/AVP/Predator: The Complete Life and Death (Oct 2018)
- Aliens: The Essential Comics Volume 1 (Oct 2018)
- Aliens: The Essential Comics Volume 2 (Aug 2020)
- See also: Crossover comics line
- Superman vs. Aliens (July-Sept 1995) aka Superman/Aliens
- Batman/Aliens (Mar-Apr 1997)
- WildC.A.T.s/Aliens (Aug 1998)
- Green Lantern versus Aliens (Sept-Dec 2000)
- Superman vs. Aliens II: God War (May-Dec 2002) aka Superman/Aliens II: God War
- Batman/Aliens II (Dec 2002-Feb 2003) aka Batman/Aliens Two
- Judge Dredd versus Aliens: Incubus (Dec 2002-Apr 2003) aka Judge Dredd vs. Aliens: Incubus
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In Space No One Can Hear You Slay! (May 2012)
- Aliens/Vampirella (Sept 2015-Feb 2016)
Several of the comics in the Aliens line have been adapted into novels:
- Aliens: Earth Hive by Steve Perry, an adaptation of Aliens: Outbreak.
- Aliens: Nightmare Asylum by Steve Perry, an adaptation of the comic of the same name.
- Aliens: The Female War by Steve Perry and S. D. Perry, an adaptation of Aliens: Female War.
- Aliens: Genocide by David Bischoff, an adaptation of the comic of the same name.
- Aliens: Alien Harvest by Robert Sheckley, an adaptation of Aliens: Harvest.
- Aliens: Rogue by Sandy Schofield, an adaptation of the comic of the same name.
- Aliens: Labyrinth by S. D. Perry, an adaptation of the comic of the same name.
- Aliens: Music of the Spears by Yvonne Navarro, an adaptation of the comic of the same name.
- Aliens: Berserker by S. D. Perry, an adaptation of Aliens: Frenzy.
Non-Dark Horse Comics
As well as the numerous comics published by Dark Horse, a small number of Alien comics have also been released by other publishers. As Dark Horse had no involvement with these comics, they are not considered a part of the company's Aliens line and have never been collected in any form with the Dark Horse releases.
Several Aliens comics have been planned and possibly partially completed but remain unreleased.
- Aliens: Matrix
- Aliens: Hive Wars
- Star Trek: The Next Generation/Aliens: Acceptable Losses
- Aliens: Colonial Marines - Rising Threat