There are times when being a fan of pack-in promo minicomics is a pain. I learned about a set of minicomics made for Kenner’s failed Aliens based toyline but searching for them has been a chore. Finding minicomic archives is already a crapshoot thanks in part to so many indie creators making minicomics (I blame you for this, Drozd!) so I can’t even find the archive sites I used to know of. I got lucky with most of the series I’ve gone over that I don’t own myself thanks to finding the right fansite, and the actual comics from this series went for $30 on eBay. Thirty dollars. For a minicomic with if you’re lucky two panels a page and 90 artwork. In fact this thing screams the 90s. Even if I had money coming in I wouldn’t pay that much if I WAS a fan of the franchise.
I could not find these minicomics properly archived, and I found the minicomic that came with the F.E.A.R. game! I found one that had everything but the first and last issue. I tried one site that came up with some HTML error message they didn’t teach me in the outdated web design classes I took at the local college (one of those adult ed courses). I even tried one of those websites that uploads every comic it can whether it’s legal or not but because they messed something up in the certificates the browser didn’t want me to use it. I couldn’t even do this “illegally”. It’s like someone doesn’t want me to review these comics. So you know how I’m bringing this three-part story to you? Videos. Not even kidding. I found videos that you’re going to have to pause to read each panel for. This is going to be different.
I supposed I should talk about the actual toyline and tie-in promo minicomic before we start. After the second Alien movie, with the imaginative title of Aliens (so clever), Kenner decided that a story about space marines fighting aliens would make for a great toyline and cartoon for kids. Oh yeah, if you thought the Rambo cartoon was a bad idea (no it wasn’t shut up it was awesome–and for that matter look at all the kids stuff you insist needs to be made into grown-up stuff so it suits only you, and consider it payback from the younger set) a PG version of marines fighting aliens…has actually a lot of proof it could work. From the Men In Black and Ghostbusters cartoons to Monster Force there is evidence a toned-down version of this series, especially in the EXTREEEEMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE world of the 1990s media landscape, could have worked. We’ll never know because it never happened.
Kenner also produced a series of minicomics for their Space Marines toyline. 13 comics in all were put together by Dark Horse, who had the license to the comics at the time. They’re the ones who made Aliens Vs. Predator look like a good idea with some great comics featuring the pairing (or so I’ve heard…I saw a preview once and that was it), which led to the movies that from what I hear wasn’t such a good idea. Tonight I’m looking at the first three minicomics, which form a coherent storyline. That is if you forget how the movie ended because the android is now a buffed alien-smasher, people are less dead (although one guy does have a cybernetic arm), and Ripley doesn’t show up to be awesome until the third comic, since this being a boys’ toyline meant they shifted the hero role to Hicks. Don’t yell at me, ladies and male fans. I just comment on this stuff, I don’t control it. Courtesy of “Random Vids Guy” let’s take a look at the first story arc of this minicomic…in video form. With no acting or music, which you will have to pause in order to actually read. I do what I can, folks. Watch them while they’re still online.
The first issue is “Desert Storm”, as we meet the new version of Bishop and Apone.
There’s a fan wiki for almost anything these days so I could confirm for fans of the actual first two movies. Yes, the bald guy with the huge 90s gun is supposed to be Lance Bishop and that’s Sgt. Al Apone being dragged away to get a face full of facehugger. Again. Apparently he survived being blown up and didn’t get his face hugged, but somehow ended up with a mechanical arm on some other mission. I don’t know if cocooning a victim and waiting an hour is their norm in the movies or even in Dark Horse’s comic. It sounds like an excuse to keep him around for the rest of the toyline and give Bishop and Cpl. Dwayne Hicks, the “real hero” in this toyline, something to do in the next issue, “Operation: Rescue”
The comic alludes to events seen in Aliens (Acheron, aka LV-426. is the planet from the movie) but things seem to have gone in a different direction. For one thing Apone is alive and just lost an arm. We also see one of the ways Kenner boosted the enemies of the toyline, by imagining what the Aliens would look like if they came out of something other than a human. While there are still traits of the original Geiger design there are modifications for other types of creatures, in this case a scorpion-like animal native to this world. This is one of the things the toyline is still known for among what few fans I’ve seen talk about the line, not so much the Space Marines.
You’ll also notice that each issue is narrated by the character whose toy the book came with. In this case Bishop came with the first issue and Apone came with issue #3 so they get to narrate their issues. Hicks narrated #2 because I guess the Scorpion Alien, who came with this issue, isn’t very good at narration. But what about the REAL real hero of this franchise, Ellen Ripley? She did have her own toy (they made her a lieutenant) so one way or another we’ll see what she did in her own comic, but she does make a quick cameo in our final story for this article, “Hive War”.
All three stories were written by Dan Jolley according to the fan wiki I’ve been linking to. You may remember I praised his excellent run on both GI Joe Versus The Transformers as well as Voltron so at some point he switched from Dark Horse to Devil’s Due. You can’t blame him for Ripley’s demotion as a character since that was Kenner thinking that focusing on the “girl” would chase boys off. Debate that as you will but it does at least seem a shame. Then again, boys probably would be more into this line than most girls so I at least see their point even if it doesn’t look good for her. Hopefully she at least gets to be a badass in her own story.
The art I’m less than impressed by. Joe Phillips and John Dell in issue #3 and Dennis Rodier on #2 did a decent job but what is with Bishop in issue #1? Normal Felchie and Mark McKenna give us a way too buff Bishop and their art just isn’t as good. Dan Nakrosis lettered all three, with Philips doing the covers for #1 and 3 and Dan Nakrosis doing the cover for #2. The covers are pretty good. Finally, Dan Thorsland edited all three issues, just to make sure all the credits are here.
The next time I go to review these, when they come up in the lineup, hopefully I’ll have found an actual archive for you to read along with instead of this odd video setup. Thankfully, Atari Force gives me such an archive so next time let’s check in on the multiversal travelers to see what video game they’re visiting next.