Aliens Antagonize Girl Power Resistance
Jan 16, 2019
by Vince Brusio
Brian Wood has wanted to dabble in the Aliens universe for quite some time as there was unfinished business for his character Zulu Hendricks. Now, with the release of Dark Horse Comics’ Aliens: Resistance #1 (NOV180211), Wood is able to come back to his character which he believes epitomizes a survivor instinct. It is girl power with guns. Big guns. And things are going to get messy.
Aliens: Resistance #1 (NOV180211) is in comic shops January 23.
Vince Brusio: Aliens: Resistance #1 (NOV180211) is touted as being a follow-up story to Alien: Isolation, which was published in 2014 as a tie-in to a video game of the same name. So what did you take away from Dan Abnett and Dion Lay’s Isolation (both men also worked on the game) which made you think Resistance was warranted, and something that had to go in the Aliens canon?
Brian Wood. Well, the whole thing is a little more nuanced than that. I wrote Aliens: Defiance back in 2015, and initially that book was meant to be an Amanda Ripley book. For reasons, that didn't happen, and I went on to co-create (with Tristan Jones) the character of Zula Hendricks for that title and the Aliens Universe overall. BUT, Amanda had a couple cameos in that series, and that right there established the fact that Amanda definitively survived Isolation, and was back in the timeline doing stuff.
So, when it came time to start to talk about what would become Resistance, the word from on high was they were ready to have Amanda in some comics AND they wanted to see more of Zula. It made sense to put them both in the new title, since I'd established they were friends. So Resistance is both a continuation of Amanda Ripley's life as well as Zula's. It feels a bit of a stretch to call it a sequel to Isolation, though, since we don't pick up any story threads from that game.
Got all that? It's a little complicated, but most of that is behind the scenes stuff. I would sum up and say that Resistance is important because it does properly introduce Amanda into comics, and also tells us that Zula wasn't some one-off, one-time comics character, but an official and meaningful addition to Aliens canon.
Vince Brusio: So, Zulu Hendricks is “new-ish” as a character? What can you tell us about her motivation for being a Colonial Marine?
Brian Wood: Yes, Zula's new-ish... Defiance was all about her and her story. When I first wrote her, I wanted a character that balanced out what we had seen of the Colonial Marines in the past, specifically in Aliens 2, where they were wisecracking, cigar-chomping 80's movie stereotypes. I know a bunch of Marines in real life, and I wanted more of their nuance, their problems, and their worldview into the mix.
Vince Brusio: Amanda Ripley has become an iconic character. Her popularity has her appearing in novels, comic books, and video games due in much with respect to her disposition: she doesn’t wear makeup, she is aggressive, angry, smart, yet empathetic. She has many layers. The question is have we seen them all? Do you go somewhere in her psyche that may not be familiar territory? Will this new storyline test her in a way we haven’t seen?
Brian Wood: If there was one thing I appreciate about Amanda, it’s the same thing as her mother, and it’s this depiction of a blue-collar, hard-working woman... a protagonist that was really not the norm in both 1970's cinema, and in the world of triple-A video games. Smart, resourceful, and tough, but not in a way where nothing gets to them, nothing scares them. They survive and win the day despite being scared out of their minds. Their stories are not power fantasies, but rather survival fantasies, and it makes it feel more real and relatable.
In Resistance, without giving too much away, Amanda is given a choice to go back and confront some of the traumatic memories she's carrying from Isolation. Both her and Zula fought like hell against the Aliens, and while they both survived, their stories were tragedies in many ways. A situation falls into their laps that will allow them to get a few more shots in and hopefully find some peace.
Vince Brusio: What makes this story get under your skin? How do you make it toxic to the touch?
Brian Wood: We introduce a LOT of new stuff to the mix here. Defiance was, by design, a story very much in the mold of the original film. With Resistance, we have a lot of freedom to push the envelope and show things no other Aliens title has. You know, a lot has been said about Weyland-Yutani's desire to exploit xenomorph biology for use in weapons. We know that, we've been told that. Have we ever seen what that means? Not just the labs, but actual field tests? Specific applications? Successes as well as failures? We go there in Resistance.
Vince Brusio: What’s it like working with artist Robert Carey on this book? How does he interpret your visions? Are there any surprises during production?
Brian Wood: He's great, as is Dan Jackson (our colorist), and our covers done by Tristan Jones and Roberto De La Torre. But when you work on something like this, as opposed to a creator-owned thing, everyone has their own personal experience with the material. Meaning, we've all seen the movies and have our own thoughts and favorites and things about Aliens that's meaningful to each of us. So I try and step back, write a clean script that allows the artists to have their say and bring that personal perspective to the work. Everyone's handing in great work, and I think everyone will be happy.
Now all that said, I do have to say that seeing my character Zula come alive under another artist's pen, in a second title, and knowing that 20th Century Fox considers her a canon character up there with all the others... that's pretty great. It's an honor.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.