I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!
First, let me say that I'm a big fan of the Aliens and Predator universe that Dark Horse established outside of the movie continuity in the 1990's.
BUT. . .
The stories varied wildly in quality. Some of them were brilliant, and are some of my favorite comics, period. Others were steaming piles of . The inconsistency of Dark Horse's Alien universe was its weak point. . .and I'm assuming the reason why it eventually faded away for quite a while (They've recently rebooted their Alien/Predator books and the quality is a lot more consistent).
So what we have here is a mini from smack dab in the middle of Dark Horse's Alien/ Predator 1990's heyday. Is it one of the good ones? Let's find out!
ALIENS: BERSERKER (Dark Horse)
In this issue, we're introduced to the crew of the "Nemesis", a Weyland-Yutani Company Hunter/Killer team. A small group of expert mercenaries whose specialty is taking out Alien nests using specialized tactics and supported by a walking tank with a living brain. . .The Berserker.
I found this to be a pretty enjoyable issue. It's mostly introduction and setup. . .following the Berserker team on a mission into an alien nest and showing the military precision and destructive power of The Berserker (a giant, armored power suit with a living person locked inside under sedation until needed).
The art was a bit hit or miss on this one. This is another artist who can draw vehicles and gear with beautiful detail, but struggles with human proportions and faces. The coloring is also WAY too bright, with big primary splashes everywhere. The cover is VERY nice, though.
Overall, this was a great introduction to the specialized Hunter/Killer teams working for the Alien universe's "Evil Corporation". It's a fast reading and enjoyable little piece of hard military science fiction.
The crew of The Nemesis is diverted to Terminal 949. . .a space station with a crew of over a thousand, making it the largest Alien nest in history. Unfortunately for them, the Company refuses to call in the Colonial Marines for backup and orders are to take the station intact. . .a suicide mission.
This issue wasn't quite as good as the first one. . .but still wasn't bad. One would think that if it was SO important that the station not be damaged or destroyed, that "The Company" would send a few more teams of Hunter/Killers in, instead of relying on just one team. But then again. . .they ARE supposed to be the best.
Also, there's some clunky dialogue that's supposed to set up a romantic connection between one of the team and their commander that's extremely forced.
The art maintains the same problem as in the first issue. . .the double-whammy of the line artist not doing so well with humans and the color artist being WAY too heavy handed with the primary colors.
But other than a bit of shaky romance subplot with half good/half bad art, this was still a decent and fast-moving read with lots of great sci-fi military action.
Things start to go badly for the crew of the Nemesis as team members start dying, communications go down, and their Berserker seems to be having trouble getting started up for battle. . .
Lots of good action in this issue as the Hunter/Killer team realizes just HOW many aliens are on the station and start losing people as they are overwhelmed while their Berserker is having problems.
Once again. . .briskly-written sci-fi military fiction with art that is great in some places and pure in others. The awful coloring really stands out in this issue even more so than the previous ones.
And now for the big finish!
In order to save the rest of the team, their medic has to take over the Berserker when the living "brain" inside dies. But having an inexperienced pacifist driving a heavily-armed war machine is just the beginning of their problems as they are betrayed by their commander on Company orders and they have to run for their lives to avoid being nuked along with the station. . .
Another fast-paced issue with lots of action as the team tries to escape the station after their commander is ordered to nuke it to protect the secret that The Company has been transporting Aliens.
The art is still problematic, but the scenes where the commander gets his karmic payback via facehugger alien are very nicely done. Unfortunately, the colors are still -awful.
Overall, this was a good issue, but as an ending for the mini, it left me a little cold. . .it seems (from a blurb on the last page) that this was actually a prologue to "Alien vs. Predator: War", so there isn't really any resolution as the three surviving team members fly off in a shuttle away from the exploding station. . .just a sort of "To be continued".
All in all, this was not bad. I liked it quite a bit. It's a quick-moving, decent piece of hard science fiction military action. If you aren't a fan of that genre of writing, then this won't be for you at all. The characters are barely-sketched military cliches, the story is basically an excuse for shooting things, and the ending is a bit disappointing. . .but all that said, it hits the marks for a pretty good hard sci-fi story.
The only real problem here is the art. Vehicles, machinery, weapons, aliens, and gore are all done VERY nicely. Human faces and proportions are pretty poorly rendered. This wouldn't be so much of a problem in this kind of story, but its compounded by lousy, heavy-handed coloring. It's all too bright and splashed with primary colors in an extremely distracting way.
Overall, what we have here is a decent sci-fi military story hampered by barely tolerable art.
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