2020’s Alien Original Screenplay issue #1 released last Wednesday August 5, and I took a look inside!
Beware, spoilers (as much as you can spoil a 40-year-old film) are ahead!
Among some of my favorite movie tie-ins or adaptations are the dredging up of old scripts and presentation in comics form. Dark Horse did this previously with The Star Wars Based On George Lucas’ Original Rough Draft Screenplay. The reason I like these adaptations so much is not necessarily because I enjoy the resulting story, but I enjoy the morbid curiosity that I find myself in while plucking out the story elements that later scripts abandoned. For instance, it was probably a good idea that Luke Skywalker didn’t punch Leia in the face in the film:
Besides that, the Lucas Draft is some sort of strange mash-up between what was originally released as Star Wars Episode IV and the prequels, with Jedi running around and something resembling the Sequels’ First Order hunting them. Strange indeed and probably good that it was workshopped a little more.
Obviously, before the advent of CGI and other digital post-production technologies that made creating vast science fiction and fantasy worlds cost effective, a lot of sets, costumes, and entire story ideas were cast by the wayside or hit the cutting room floor. Many, it seems, didn’t even make it out of the first draft of scripts. I suppose that’s what is so interesting about these original script adaptations. To see the film that never was and in some cases probably should never have been.
Anyway, I digress, this is about 2020’s Alien Original Screenplay issue #1!
This comic follows the same basic premise as the classic 1979 film: The crew of the Nostromo are returning to Earth after a non-descript mission when awoken from a form of stasis sleep by the ship’s computer’s protocol. It seems that when a distress call is received by the ship, it is protocol to investigate and attempt to save survivors. But, wait a minute, that’s not the Nostromo! That’s a vessel called the Snark.
The visuals from the get-go feel familiar, yet distinctly new. The cockpit has some of the familiar geometry from the film, but the displays seem crisper, more advanced, less gritty and worn. The same can be said about the sleeping pods the crew awakes from and the clothing the crew themselves wear. Speaking of the crew: while fans of the film will remember the crew as Dallas, Kane, Ripley, Lambert, Ash, Parker, and Brett, readers will now have to become re-acquainted with Roby, Broussard, Faust, Melkonis, Chaz, and Captain Standard. Jones the Cat appears to be intact.
The most interesting selling point for this series for me is that the appearance of the ship, the Aliens, and the rest of the appearance is based on descriptions in O’Bannon’s original script before the venerated H.R. Giger’s, Moebius’, and Ron Cobb’s involvement and contribution to Alien’s now-inseparable aesthetic. Balbi does a great job separating an intrinsic bias we all would be hard pressed to ignore from growing up with the Alien imagery in our pop culture. While on the mysterious, marooned, alien ship, the crew encounters smooth, glowing lines, and vast open cavernous spaces. If the space jockeys always appeared to be some hybrid lifeform existing between technological and biological, this original vision of their technology tilts a little bit further towards technological. Are the xenomorphs that much different? That’s yet to be seen. We just get a small glimpse of an egg here in issue #1. Yes, we see the original vision for the Space Jockey and it will tickle you pink to see what could have been. Is it preferable to what H.R. Giger ended up contributing? I don’t know about that. But, I’m glad some vision of this original concept is being preserved here.
Like the aliens the Snark crew encounters, their space suits have a more streamlined futuristic vision of space apparel than what 1979’s production gave us.
By now, you know my preferences. I like dialogue over narration, and I like being shown what’s happening rather than having it explained in exposition. The dialogue between the crew, as supplemented by the ship’s computer, fits those criteria nicely and I felt like a space fly on the wall anxious to watch this tragedy unfold. Of course, the crew’s nightmare has just begun and I can’t wait to tune in to the next issue!
Alien The Original Screenplay issue #1 is out now! Official solicit:
(W) Cristiano Seixas (A/CA) Guilherme Balbi
En route to back to Earth, the crew of the starship Snark intercepts an alien transmission. Their investigation leads them to a desolate planetoid, a crashed alien spacecraft, and a pyramidic structure of unknown origin. Then the terror begins . . .
o Just in time for Alien Day (April 26, 2020)
o Adapted from the original 1976 screenplay by Dan O’Bannon (author of Moebius’s The Long Tomorrow, cowriter of Total Recall, writer/director of The Return of the Living Dead).
o Variant covers by Walter Simonson! In Shops: Aug 05, 2020