A confession: I loved Prometheus when I first saw it. I mean, yeah, almost immediately as I walked out of the theater, the whole thing dissolved into a nonsensical mess, but while I was watching David poison the whiny doctor for some reason, I was caught up in the Alien prequel. It’s not that I cared all that much about the origins of the xenomorphs, nor was I particularly eager to have the bubble of mystery around the Engineer popped, but that meaty origins of the species stuff got my butt in the theater.
Thankfully, Paul Tobin’s comic sequel-ish to the film, this week’s Prometheus: Fire and Stone #1, is able to sidestep some of the issues with that movie and its doomed expedition by changing the goalposts: this is an Aliens direct sequel and crossover, too (think of it as Aliens vs. Engineers).
The first issue introduces us to a salvage ship led by Captain Angela Foster, whose crew has traveled to the supposed desert planet of LV-223, a little over a hundred years after Shaw and David’s head tussled with a ticked off Engineer. And… if you’ve read any Dark Horse Aliens books, this one is going to feel a little familiar. Mission to a mysterious world with a captain and or crew with their own secret missions? Check. Crew member with another secret (and a lack of sense about proper biohazard protocols)? Check. Aliens ready to melt faces with their blood? Double check.
Captain Foster has led her crew to what they all think will be a barren planet to mine anything they can find there, but she secretly wants to follow one of Peter Weyland’s lost probes in her own hopes of discovering what happened to Weyland’s crew and what they discovered about the origins of our species. Clearly, it won’t go well.
Tobin’s script along with Juan Ferreyra’s art introduces us to a pretty large cast of cannon fodder in the first issue, helpfully identified by pixieish crewman Atkinson, who follows each of the crew and has them identify themselves on camera. It’s a solid way of getting us to meet everyone, but given the number of characters being trotted out here, don’t expect to quite get to know anyone by Captain Foster.
The creative team attempt to sidestep some of the issues with Prometheus (explicitly in some cases, with characters calling out biological protocols, asking questions, sticking together as a group), even as they make the planet much too interesting a place for the crew to not explore. There’s mystery on this strange world, but each of the characters is behaving the way a rational person in those circumstances would.
We’ll see if that holds up next month when the bad stuff really goes down. For now, Fire and Stone is a solid follow-up to a deeply flawed movie.