Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tie-ins, Part XXIV: Superman / Aliens #2

Some random Alien stuff, Part 6


"Book Two"
Story and Layout – Dan Jurgens
Finishes – Kevin Nowlan
Letters – Bill Oakley
Colors – Greg Wright & Android Images
Thanks – John Nyberg
August 1995

Many times as I peruse the Crapbox I have to stop my searching and sit back with my head involuntarily shaking from side-to-side with a look of utter confusion painted across my face.

I try to make myself feel better about what I find. I console myself with "Everybody wanted to make a comic book and get rich" in the case of all those 80's black and white titles which didn't last beyond issue number dos. Or "Manga brought in those goofy eyes and speed lines," as I encounter American books that badly ape those imported styles.

Or "It was the '90's."

Superman / Aliens.

Well, it was the 90's. In the age of excess, anything goes. Including taking two properties that don't belong together and cramming them together. Just to see how they fit. To make a buck. BECAUSE you CAN!

Yes, this is bizarre. To take a horror property that is nihilist and dark then blend it with a fantasy hero with a code against killing, the embodiment of truth, justice and the American dream? To take those two things and make them compatible in the same story without sacrificing either to the point of being a ridiculous parody?

I thought something like this would never in a million years work.

But we owe Dan Jurgens and Kevin Nowlan big apologies for those thoughts.

Because it does work. In the best way possible. And it is unfortunate that I only have the middle act of the three, because I'm dying to see how this turned out.

What you need to know is that this amounts to an Elseworld's tale, as most of the intercompany crossovers have, in which Kara and the lost Kryptonian colony has not been found yet. I'm missing issue one because the Crapbox runs that way, being just random issues and all.

Here is where we are, given what I can piece together from the story in progress. Supes went off in a Lex spaceship to investigate a populated planetoid. Possibly because of a distress signal (because it's an Aliens story staple) and possibly because the area of space is around a red sun, which would drain him of his powers. I'm going to jump out on a limb and state Lex's space station personnel discovered the habited fragment/distress call, because Lois is on the station too. Supes found a few injured people and sent them back with the shuttle, hoping, figuring someone would send it right back to rescue him, then he comes across the knowledge that this is a lost Kryptonian colony Argo and that there is one survivor, a female named Kara.

Also the place is crawling with Aliens. Lots and lots of Aliens.

Wikipedia says I'm about 90% right, if you take out some telepathy and the fact the lost colony is located in space far from any and all suns, which is causing Superman to drain his power as he uses it. (Didn't he fly through space in the early 90's BETWEEN planets with no ill effects? Huh?)

Anyway…we open with the returning Lexcorp shuttle being piloted by…no one apparently as they are all chestburster infested and suffering from facehugger-itus.

As you can see the book has the overly bright quality of the Superman books of the period with the addition of this first page getting an Alien-style boarder. Lane and Kimble don't get along, possibly because Kimble is firmly established as being in Lex's pocket. She's a Burke stand in, for most of this issue.

Kimble gets the shuttle under control in such a fast manner that this fake suspense in the beginning seems almost a cop out. What isn't a false alarm is what they find inside, something that every Alien fan would recognize as "not good."

Including Lois, who discovers some clues as to what might have happened…

..but misses the Alien standing in the corner. OMG! With as bright as these panels are, how could she miss him?

Back on the planetoid, Kara is leading Superman around because in killing an Alien, acid-blood sprayed into his eyes. 

She starts explaining about how the Argo can be so deserted…

…while doctoring Supes up. She clues him in on how she knows he must be out of the ordinary.

But Kal is more interested in hearing about Argo, so she explains how she got here in three pages that look oddly like she's in Betty Page pin-up positions. Basically stating their colony got lost in space with only the dome keeping in the atmosphere, they were isolated and slowly dying. A freighter of unknown origin crashed near the colony though containing an apparently dead Alien queen…

So basically, a desperate dumb-ass turned their slow deaths into a rapid, horrifying one. Superman then does his "can't give into despair" thing and shows her he can fly.

They talk a bit more and Kara explains how the Alien eggs work, how the facehuggers implant a parasite in the host that develops into a full grown Alien. 

Supes is quick on the uptake here.


(hahaha! I love that shot. Yes, S-man. You messed up, BIG TIME!)

And to prove it, we flip back to Dr. Kimble and the station med-tech for this:

Woah. Didn't think DC would have the guts to do that. But they obviously do. As I can see them right there, on the page. Bravo, DC!

(Is this a Vertigo title now?)

The baby Alien gets away, because of course it does, and Kimble thinks that even though it is loose on the station that it is not a huge concern because it is so small.

Meanwhile Supes is pouring the lead out to get back to the station because he knows he's doomed everyone on it (including Lois) and he's worried about their lives (including Lois's), not to mention humanity in general (AND LOIS!). He worries they won't see a return shuttle ever.

Suddenly gunfire sounds through the city and Kara explains that there are some more survivors in an area called "The Box" that she forgot to mention until now. The blasting must mean the Xenomorphs have found it. She starts rushing now, as Kal offers an assist.

I'll finish that thought for him…"I'm even more concerned about Lois."

And he should be because she and a Lexcorp tech are still in the bay trying to decipher what happened aboard the shuttle when suddenly...

Wait? How did he get implanted?

Oh poop! That's a tail. He's being Bishoped. And here is where Lois dies…

Okay, not that.

The book has the balls to show blood and guts and Aliens straight up murdering people, but not enough to alter Superman's mythos to that great of an extent. Instead Lois takes a page from Ellen Ripley's handbook which we will get to in a moment. But first!...

…Superman has a moral crisis which costs all these people their lives.

Seriously. He even picks up a gun, brandishes it, and then throws it as a way of symbolically rejecting acting against his code vs killing. He references the Kryptonian Phantom Zone villains as a reason NOT to kill the Aliens. Which is so odd, because the Aliens are like them and Doomsday, creatures that will not stop until every last human being is dead. Yet still he can't bring himself to kill them.

The Aliens, of course, have no compunctions about ending his existence. Genocide to them is just part of the natural order. They eat, breed and survive. They are perfect killing machines. And while I can't help Superman, at any rate he has my sympathies.

A silly wrestling match goes on until Supes realizes that Kara might die…

…which leads to an even sillier wrestling match…

...I feel like I'm watchin the Aliens vs Predator movie again…

…until Superman breaks the Alien's tail, which causes the beast to fall unconscious. Basically Superman is the WORST at fighting Aliens of any person on the entire planet. Because even the guys with guns could take out two or three of them. And those two or three wouldn’t be coming back.

Meanwhile Lois is running away from the Alien, but someone has sealed the doors so she can't get back in…wonder who?

Yeah, Kimble needs to be fed to the Aliens, toot sweet. What a B.

Lane manages to secure herself in the shuttle and then figure out how to open the pod bay doors…

…however, the Alien ain't having that today. The shuttle itself decides to go for a little tumble. I have to say I like part of this…the homage factor of the airlock and the Alien. It shows a respect for the source material.

Due to Kimble's unwitting help, the Alien gets trapped on the other side of the forcefield airlock door and bub-bye.

Lois descends the shuttle ruins thinking about Clark, worried that he might not survive this. If only she knew how much his own code-vs-killing was lending credence to that notion. Across the cosmos, he and Kara are now the only two left standing primarily because he is still wrestling with the Aliens instead of flat out murdering them. An exception is when he finds this belt of grenades that are about to explode and Kara does the honors of detonating them.

Still that isn't enough. There are MANY more Aliens waiting to take them down, so Superman tells Kara to gather everyone together that he is "getting you out of here NOW!"

All one of them. Yes, Superman failed to save any of these survivors due to his incompetence and unwillingness to take the lives of creatures that live only to murder other beings. He flies them up to the top of a nearby tower, they land on the roof and the one guy that he rescued with Kara dies.

Yup. Dumbass.

Kara bemoans being the last survivor of her race. Kal silently empathizes and while she gives up hope, he lets her drift off to sleep. Watching the dome he notices the Aliens are amassing and there is nothing he can do about it.

They break through the dome and by unrelated circumstances the fuel lines blow making the tower they are on fall. Superman survives but we have no indication Kara does. While attempting to dig her from the rubble, this happens…

…even weakened as he is, Superman isnt' over come by one Alien. However, there isn't just one Alien owing to Supes not killing them. 

He awakes trapped in Alien goo-wall and, well…you know the drill…

Yah, you buddy. Next time, kill those Alien bastards and this kinda crap won't…oh, yeah. No next time. Not for you anyway.

See what I mean?

That's where we are ushered out of this one. Looks pretty hopeless. In fact, if this had been the ending, I would have went with it. There was one more issue however, so I'm certain that Superman got out of having an Alien egg in his large intestine.

I'm a bit puzzled however. Superman has shown his willingness to kill if the situation is extremely hopeless. His battle with Doomsday proves that. So what gives here? He knew that these creatures were more animal than person, yet he preserved their lives over those of the Kryptonians under his protection. It seems a very odd choice.

Either way, I can applaud DC for doing this and allowing it to be as dark as it was.

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