It’s been a long time since we checked in with the Space Marines. For those you who missed our last bug hunt, Kenner created the Aliens toyline in 1992. This was to be joined by a cartoon, but that plan apparently fell through and the toyline itself never got past the fourth wave before disappearing. While Ripley was part of the Marines now the focus of the marketing was on Hicks, under the usual belief that boys didn’t want a toyline headlined by a girl. Apparently defeating a giant monster with a bipedal forklift wasn’t badass enough or something, despite Ripley usually being one of the go-to examples of a good badass female character done right. There are times I do not understand my own species.
In the previous look at the Aliens: Space Marines mini-comics I had to use YouTube video scans of the first three comics to get through the story. This is as lame as it sounds, as you needed to pause the video to have time to read the darn things, but it was the only source I could find. Thankfully someone on Flickr posted the whole set, though oddly issue #4 is lacking its cover. All that does is set up the story of the toyline anyway. Transcribed by the Aliens fan wiki:
Sometime in the future…
Humankind has begun to explore space, colonizing planets throughout the galaxy. Leading the way are the SPACE MARINES, the toughest heavy metal warriors in the galaxy! Armed to the teeth with state-of-the-art weaponry, they keep the peace in a universe filled with danger… and ALIENS!
Vicious, gruesome, and deadly, the Aliens spit acid, and use slithering face huggers to capture their prey. Led by their sinister Queen, the Aliens are spreading everywhere, mutating into more deadly forms as they go. Earth’s last defense: The Space Marines, known throughout the galaxy as the best bug-fighters around.
So lock and load, Marine, the invasion is on!
Tonight we’re looking at the fourth and fifth issue. Like issues one through three last time this seems to form a multi-part story that works on their own. We get to see more of Ripley than we did last time…and yet still she ends up having to be rescued by the dudes. Someone remind the feminists this was a boys toyline so the fact that she’s even there is a miracle, even if frankly the hero of the franchise until they mucked everything up (so I hear because this isn’t a franchise I follow) deserves better.
Aliens: Space Marines #s 4 & 5
Dark Horse Comics/Kenner (1992)
WRITER: Dan Jolley
LETTERER: Dan Nakrosis
EDITOR: Dan Thorsland
#4: “Jungle Attack” (packed with Gorilla Alien)
ARTIST: Tony Harris
COVER ART: Mark A. Nelson
#5: “Meltdown” (packaged with Sgt. Drake)
PENCILER: Rick Hoberg
INKER: Ian Akin
COVER ART: Joe Phillips
“Jungle Attack” begins as Ripley gives a log. The Space Marines are on Zeevan, headed to a colony in an area invested with Xenomorphs. And to think I’m worried about a mouse in our crawlspace. (Considering my studio’s in the attic I’m right to.) Bishop reports that everything’s clear, but barely spits that out before finding multiple targets on his sensors. Maybe one of them is here to give him better glasses? Seriously, look to the left and tell me that is ever going to be fashionable…and that’s from a guy with terrible fashion sense. Even I know better than this.
Drake is a 90s gun-toting ubermale so of course he just wants to blow aliens up, even when they turn out to be local four-armed primates. His hero was Clayton from Disney’s take on Tarzan, you know. Sgt. Apone asks Bishop what they’re running from, and gets the answer in the form of a pack of gorilla-based Xenomorphs. They manage to take them down but not before one uses his acid spit to set off the missiles and blow the ship up. While the crew waits for the rescue team more gorilla aliens attack that night. Managing to save some of their gear (apparently plenty of it according to Captain Triggerhappy…I’m kidding, Drake doesn’t have a rank according to the toy cards and I think I can guess why) they do manage to fight back against the monsters but for some reason they grab Ripley. I guess they know who the franchise’s real hero is and want to get her out of the way. Apone, Drake, and Bishop go after then as the issue ends.
That takes us to “Meltdown”, issue five and the end of this particular story. The trio finds Ripley’s flamethrower and that leads them to Ripley and the gorilla alien in the trees. Drake does what he does best, shooting stuff. (Gun or mouth…he does both.) The gorillamorph drops Ripley and Apone catches her thanks to his “bio-arm” and Drake makes reference to his time in prison. Again, I’m not a follower of the Aliens franchise but with the wiki I find out he joined the military to escape a long prison sentence. Also he died, so I’m guessing nobody actually checked who lived through the movies before casting this toyline. Then again that’s usually so short a list that it’s only up to two because nobody back then was willing to turn a little girl into facehugger friends. Nowadays they’d write a story where a whole preschool got facehugged because they’re kind of sick these days.
They manage to mow down the lot but then the “cute little queen” (why do they keep letting Drake talk, I don’t even care that this comic is coming with his action figure), which they don’t have enough ammo to deal with. Apone calls for the rescue ship and now I’m confuses. Are there unnamed Marines in this group? Wasn’t the ship trashed last issue? I’m missing something from last issue besides the cover. Because they’re also selling the ship toys Bishop lands a ship that had a giant alien jar on the back, which he uses to snag the queen and drop her into a volcano. That could only work in a 90s cartoon that didn’t get made. With the queen gone and no sign of an egg they all decide to head off for an Earth colony that will be the location of the next adventure…but they should have looked around because there is another egg, and another local primate gets to pretend its in preschool.
Overall I’m really not impressed with this outing. Ignoring the fact that the hero of the series does almost nothing awesome the guys don’t even pick up the slack. Drake is every 90s comic and cartoon cliché combined and boosted and outside of shooting stuff with a really big gun barely matters in his own comic. The gorilla aliens at least get to do something in their story but it isn’t much. I don’t know if the ship was destroyed or not. No reason is given for the gorilla aliens grabbing Ripley beyond making her a damsel in distress the guys have to rescue, and even I know why that’s wrong. The art (granted both images come from the same issue) isn’t that great, but #5 is better than #4. Overall these are not very good Aliens stories and if the cartoon had been like this I don’t see it being well remembered by the fans. Then again I don’t follow the fandom either so I could be wrong. I’d wager I’m not though.
Next time we check back in with the Atari Force and see what video game they fly into this level.