Aliens: Defiance Issue #2 Review
Following its fairly strong opening issue, which we enjoyed quite a lot, Aliens: Defiance continues its limited 12 issue run with its second instalment, which we review in detail below (spoilers ahead).
As with the previous issue, this issue keeps the focus heavily on Colonial Marine Zula Hendricks having the odds stacked fully against her, yet her pushing on despite this.
Straight away this issue reminds us of Zula’s lingering injury and slow recovery; “She’s injured,” one of the droids states, “she’s compromised,” and then later Zula thinks: ‘Then the job crushed me. Instant liability, instant disgrace. Funny how fast your friends can turn on you once you show a bit of weakness.’
The issue also continues to remind us of Zula’s gender and ethnicity struggles; ‘Five-foot-tall black girls — still rare enough in the colonial marines to get dumped on.’ And that she had to work ‘three times as hard’ in order to make it through Colonial Marine selection.
Both of these obstacles were firmly set up in the first issue, so it does feel like the narrative is repeating itself a little, and so early on too. We understand that these obstacles are a large part of what drives Zula as a person, but to dwell on them too heavily almost takes away from their power and we hope that further issues don’t lean too severely on these character traits. We want to see a strong Zula who doesn’t need to keep dwelling on how poorly life has treated her.
In other ways too this issue repeats very much the same formula as issue #1 (and that of all the Alien films), which is our characters investigating a derelict location, battling Xenomorphs, then narrowly escaping.
Let’s say we could break any of the Alien films up into 12 exactly equal segments. We’re positive that not every single one of those segments would include a fight scene between marines and the Xenomorphs. Therefore, there seems little need to have one in every issue of this run here so far (except perhaps for the assumed need to keep the action levels high, in order to retain readers, but we feel this might be undermining the intelligence of readers a little).
The fight itself is brief and explosive, with Zula coming out of it even more injured than she went in. Brian Wood seems intent on continuing to debilitate Zula in various different ways, all as a platform from which to show us just how much determination and drive she has within her.
The issue’s closing panels give further insight into the sort of mentality that Zula uses to drive herself. She internally thinks: ‘No weakness. No mercy. No hesitation. Go twice as hard, Hendricks, three times as hard. Then they’ll respect you.”
It’s that final line about seeking respect that is most revealing about Zula. It seems that rather than accomplishing goals for her own sake, Zula craves acceptance and respect from others above all else. We don’t like that a great deal, because that means that Zula is placing herself on a lower pedestal to others, because she feels that she must try harder than others to earn respect.
Respect is rather something that should be shown to others naturally, and even if other marines choose not to show respect to Zula because of how she looks or because of what she has gone through, really Zula shouldn’t care about what they think, nor should she be trying to acquire the respect of such imbeciles. Self-respect and self-confidence should be what matter. But then again – space can be a very lonely place when you have no friends, so we can see why she might strive to re-acquire some of her lost friends (though she has only androids for companions at the moment).
It is still the art by Tristan Jones that thrills us the most, within this run. He really gets the tones and detail just right for us, which surpassed our expectations for the kind of art that we expected find in an Aliens comic and we’re sure that he will continue to impress us as this run progresses.
We enjoyed this issue a little less than Issue #1, only because it retrod some of the exact same ground and themes, rather than progressing the story in new and interesting ways. Upon turning that final page, we felt like not much had happened at all, but we’re still liking this series as a whole and we’re looking forward to what Issue #3 brings.
Image credits: Dark Horse Comics / Comic Book Resources