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Summary

  • Dark Horse Comics expanded
    Alien
    lore by revealing how Xenomorphs communicate through a telepathic link established by their Queen.
  • Xenomorphs’ genetic malleability is depicted in
    Aliens vs Predator
    , where a Predalien is born with key characteristics of both a Xenomorph and a Predator.
  • Weyland-Yutani’s desire for Xenomorphs is redefined in
    Fire and Stone
    , where the species could terraform planets at an unparalleled speed due to their genetic capabilities – and that’s just a few of the many instances where
    Alien
    comics redefined the Xenomorphs!
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Despite being a franchise that began in film, the Alien universe has expanded far beyond the live-action movie landscape into the realm of video games, novels, and comic books, allowing the insidious Xenomorphs even more room to terrorize their ever-growing crop of victims. And out of all the mediums invaded by the Xenomorphs, the one that has unarguably expanded Alien lore the most is the comics.

The first publisher to produce Alien comics was Dark Horse Comics, as it established a continuity that began immediately following the 1986 film Aliens. With Aliens as its starting point, the Dark Horse series was able to grow the franchise in new and interesting ways, as the mystery surrounding the Xenomorph species slowly started to become unraveled. While Dark Horse was the first, it certainly wasn’t the last. 20th Century Studios (a subsect of Marvel Comics) is the current publisher of Alien comics, and it has also done phenomenally with unraveling the secrets of this cosmically horrific species as well.

No matter the era or the publisher, Alien comic books never fail to give readers greater insight into the iconic Sci-Fi monster that has horrified fans since the ‘70s. However, there are definitely a few standouts in terms of their contribution to Alien lore, and how they’ve succeeded in not only telling a great story featuring Xenomorphs, but redefining the Xenomorph in significant and lasting ways.

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10 Dark Horse Comics’ Original Aliens Series Explains How They Communicate

Aliens by Mark Verheiden and Mark A. Nelson

Humans worshiping Xenomorphs in Dark Horse Comics' Aliens.

1986’s Aliens – despite being the fan-favorite of the franchise – left much to be desired in terms of living up to the mysterious, cosmic horror of the Xenomorph fans were introduced to in the original 1979 film. Aliens made the Xenomorphs seem like little more than ‘space bugs’, which is why many fans assumed the aliens communicated as bugs do, since so much of their existence was reminiscent of ants or wasps. However, once Dark Horse Comics got hold of the franchise, the cosmically terrifying nature of the Xenomorph was promptly reinstated, beginning with exactly how they communicate.

Dark Horse Comics’ Aliens reveals that Xenomorphs don’t communicate through pheromones as many fans assumed, but rather through a telepathic link established by the Queen of their hive. Not only does this comic make how Xenomorphs communicate clear, it also shows the horrific impact this communication method has on humans. When Xenomorphs were brought to Earth (as shown in this series), a number of Xenomorph-worshiping cults began popping up around the globe.

These people could feel the telepathic communication between the Xenomorphs and their Queen running through their minds, despite not knowing what was being communicated or what was even happening to them. They become obsessed with the Xenomorphs as a result, making them long for the ‘opportunity’ to be impregnated by them. The clarification about how the Xenomorphs’ communicate adds so much to the lore of the species, and makes them infinitely more terrifying than ‘space bugs’.

9 Aliens vs Predator Perfectly Depicts the Xenomorphs’ DNA Reflex with the Predalien

Aliens vs Predator: Duel by Randy Stradley and Javier Saltares

Alien vs Predator's hybrid creature, the Predalien.

The Xenomorphs’ DNA Reflex is a defining aspect of the creatures’ biology, as it is the genetic imprint any given host leaves on the Xenomorph that is born within them. This can be seen with every Xenomorph ever featured in Alien canon, including and especially Big Chap from the original 1979 film. The only reason the Xenomorphs fans are familiar with look the way they do (as established by Big Chap) is that they’re born from humans, and thereby maintain a few key human characteristics.

While every Xenomorph born goes through the DNA Reflex process upon gestation, there’s never been a more clear example of this often-forgotten feature of Xenomorph biology than with AvP’s Predalien. Obviously, the Predalien was born from a Predator who was impregnated with a Xenomorph, which is why the creature took on some key characteristics of the Yautja. While the creature itself was an integral aspect of this storyline, its real significance is how well it depicted the Xenomorphs’ DNA Reflex.

8 Aliens’ Kenner Comics Pushes the Xenomorphs’ DNA Reflex to the Absolute Limit

Dark Horse Comics/Kenner Comics Aliens: Space Marines by Dan Jolley, Norman Felchle, and Mark McKenna

Aliens: Space Marines' Mantis Xenomorph attacking a group of soldiers.

Kenner Products was the toy company that produced Aliens action figures following the popularity of the 1986 film. Given the decidedly mature nature of the movie, Kenner had to get creative when it came to marketing for children, and the company decided the best course of action was to include a mini comic within the packaging of every action figure. Each figure was a Xenomorph that didn’t quite look like a Xenomorph, but rather weird Xenomorph-hybrids that seemed to be merged with animals or bugs, including a Mantis Alien, Rhino Alien, and Scorpion Alien, just to name a few.

To justify the existence of these toyetic Xenomorph variants, the Kenner Comics crafted a story surrounding each one, with all of them revealing how these Xenomorphs came to be. While this entire initiative could be chalked up to cheap marketing, the Kenner Comics is perhaps the most creative use of the Xenomorphs’ DNA Reflex to date. Sure, it was all just to sell toys, but if a Facehugger infected a giant Mantis creature in Alien canon, then it would have absolutely given life to a Mantis Alien just as the toy and comic depicts.

7 Alien’s Original Xenomorph Grotesquely Alters Everything About the Iconic Sci-Fi Monster

Alien: The Original Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon, Cristiano Seixas, and Guilherme Balbi

The alternate Xenomorph introduced in Alien: The Original Screenplay.

The appearance of a Xenomorph (at least, the ones born from humans, anyway) is undeniably iconic, though apparently, the creature originally had a much different appearance. Dan O’Bannon, who wrote the original screenplay for 1979’s Alien, more recently took the initial vision he had for the film (before H.R. Giger’s aesthetic was added) and turned it into a Dark Horse Comics miniseries. While the wider storyline was identical to what fans got with the 1979 film, there were a few key differences – including and especially the design of the Xenomorph.

It’s been established in Alien canon that Xenomorphs adopt traits from their host with their DNA Reflex, but the species still has an unmistakable base form that was brought to life by H.R. Giger. That was not the case in Alien: The Original Screenplay. This Xenomorph was utterly unidentifiable, appearing more like a parasite that’s truly without form, jumbled together through a collection of mutated human DNA. It’s as if this Xenomorph is pure ‘DNA Reflex’, without a ‘base form’ to integrate traits of its host into, like the classic Xenomorph.

6 Alien’s Ambitious Crossover with The Terminator Confirms the Xenomorphs’ Genetic Malleability

Aliens vs Predator vs The Terminator by Mark Schultz and Mel Rubi

A Xenomorph/Terminator hybrid from Aliens vs Predator vs The Terminator.

In the far future of the Alien universe (after the events of Alien: Resurrection), the galaxy is plagued with more than just Xenomorphs and Predators, but also Terminators. This comic reveals that humanity’s war against the machines happened before the events of 1979’s Alien, and that space travel and planetary expansion were a result of humanity’s ultimate victory over Skynet. However, it seems humanity didn’t destroy all the Terminators, and these rogue androids came up with a plan of their own to become even deadlier than anyone could ever imagine.

The Terminators find a way to merge themselves with the Xenomorphs, thereby giving life to a true biomechanical nightmare. The Terminators’ decision to integrate Xenomorphs into their own mechanical bodies wasn’t just because of how deadly the aliens are, but because of the genetic malleability of the Xenomorph species. Xenomorphs are the ‘perfect organism’ because they are perfectly adaptable, even when merged with inorganic life – and this comic explores the Xenomorphs’ genetic malleability better than any other.

5 Alien’s Origin of the Xenomorph Species Redefines Why Weyland-Yutani Wants Them

Aliens: Fire and Stone #2 by Chris Roberson and Patric Reynolds

Aliens: Fire and Stone revealing the Xenomorphs' Black Goo can terraform uninhabitable planets.

Fire and Stone is a crossover series that acts as a direct sequel to Prometheus. This story was told in the pages of Dark Horse Comics’ Aliens, Predator, Alien vs Predator, and Prometheus, and it successfully tied together the events of 2012’s Prometheus with the wider Alien series, while also including Predator in an exciting way. However, this series’ greatest achievement was perhaps its most subtle, as it’s revealed that the Black Goo (the blueprint for the Xenomorph species) has the capability to make any given ecosystem go through millions of years of evolution in a matter of mere decades.

This revelation implies that if the Xenomorph was reverse engineered, it could hold the secret to terraforming on a scale the likes of which humans never could have imagined.

Alien fans are well aware that Weyland-Yutani has been wanting to get its hands on the Xenomorph since the start of the franchise, but the company has been equally obsessed with the success of its ‘Building Better Worlds’ campaign. Perhaps these separate efforts could actually be one and the same, and Weyland-Yutani wants the Xenomorph to terraform planets believed to be uninhabitable at record speeds. Of course, this isn’t confirmed, but just the idea that Weyland-Yutani could want the Xenomorph for a totally unexpected reason such as this is incredibly significant.

4 An Alternate Version of Alien 3 Redefines Xenomorph Reproduction

William Gibson’s Alien 3 by William Gibson, Johnnie Christmas, and Tamra Bonvillain

The face of a human woman mutating into a Xenomorph in Alien.

Xenomorphs reproduce like a parasite, as the Facehugger implants the raw genetic material that will grow into a Xenomorph within the body of a host, where it gestates before bursting out of the host’s body after it’s done harvesting enough genetic material from the host to be born, killing the host as a result. However, that horrific process is significantly streamlined in William Gibson’s Alien 3.

In this alternate version of the third Alien film installment, Weyland-Yutani scientists are experimenting with the Xenomorphs’ genetic material, resulting in the development of a ‘Xenomorph mist’. When humans are exposed to this mist, they mutate into fully-grown Xenomorphs. This process of Xenomorph reproduction skips a few key steps from their original method, as this mist makes the existence of the Queen and the Facehuggers unnecessary, and totally skips the need to impregnate a host – since it just turns the host into a Xenomorph directly.

3 Alien Reveals a Xenomorph Civil War on Their Homeworld of Xenomorph Prime

Aliens: Genocide by Mike Richardson and John Arcudi

A Xenomorph being killed by Red Xenomorphs in Aliens: Genocide.

One of the most significant additions to Alien lore within the comics is the introduction of the aliens’ homeworld, Xenomorph Prime. In the films, fans never get to see where the Xenomorphs come from, as LV-426 was their only point of origin (with the derelict ship confirming that they didn’t actually originate there). Within the opening pages of Aliens: Genocide, readers are shown Xenomorph Prime in all its primal glory, at which point fans learn of a planet-wide civil war between the Xenomorphs and a variant species known only as the Red Xenomorphs.

Not only does this comic reveal where the Xenomorphs come from, but it also reveals that there is more than one kind of Xenomorph that exists on their homeworld, with the other type of Xenomorphs acting as the originals’ genetic rivals. Aliens: Genocide is a fantastic expansion of Xenomorph lore, answering questions that the movies never even came close to revealing.

2 Alien Confirms Xenomorphs Can Produce Incredibly Potent Drugs

Aliens: Genocide by Mike Richardson and John Arcudi & Aliens: Music of the Spears by Chet Williamson and Tim Hamilton

Xeno Zip and Royal Jelly, 2 drugs derived from Alien's Xenomorph Queen.

Xenomorphs have always been presented as the ultimate killing machines, which is why fans assumed Weyland-Yutani wanted to use them as living weapons before the idea was floated in Fire and Stone that the company wanted them to terraform planets. However, Aliens: Genocide and Aliens: Music of the Spears explores another use for the Xenomorphs: the production of potent drugs derived from the ‘goo’ produced by the Xenomorph Queen’s egg sack (which can actually be seen in any film that shows the Queen laying Ovomorphs).

In Genocide, the ‘goo’ is refined into a drug called ‘Xeno Zip’, which acts as a stimulant that grants human users uncontrollable superpowers, including superhuman strength and speed. In Music of the Spears, it’s refined into a drug called ‘Royal Jelly’, which seems to act as a hallucinogen, but actually dials the human brain into the Xenomorphs’ telepathic communication channels. Like the humans in Dark Horse Comics’ Aliens, those who take Royal Jelly long for the ‘embrace’ of the Queen Xenomorph.

The Xenomorph-produced drugs are one of the most intriguing aspects of the alien species, especially as it relates to the Xenomorphs’ impact on humanity (beyond just murdering them).

1 20th Century Studios’ Alien Presents Xenomorphs as Lovecraftian Entities of Cosmic Horror

Alien Vol. 1 & 2 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Salvador Larroca, and Julius Ohta

The Woman in the Dark surrounded by Xenomorphs' in 20th Century Studios' Alien.

Dark Horse Comics’ Aliens continuity showed Xenomorphs being worshiped by groups of humans – most notably in Aliens and Aliens: Music of the Spears. However, those were cults acting on misguided faith, as the Xenomorphs weren’t gods, they were just psychic predators attempting to lure willing human hosts into their hives. However, the first two volumes of 20th Century Studios’ Alien series takes things one step further, and actually makes the Xenomorphs eldritch beasts worthy of Lovecraftian horror.

In Alien Vol. 1 and 2, there is a being lurking under the surface of all three storylines told in these two volumes: the Woman in the Dark aka the Goddess. The Woman in the Dark is a biomechanical female entity reminiscent of one of H.R. Giger’s most famous pieces, “The Spell”. The entity appears within the minds of those placed in a Facehugger-induced coma as the parasite impregnates them.

The Woman in the Dark’s existence confirms that the Xenomorphs are more than just an alien species (and far more than ‘space bugs’), but otherworldly creatures that may actually be twisted gods. 20th Century Studios hasn’t been publishing Alien comics as long as Dark Horse Comics, but it didn’t waste any time in redefining the Xenomorph species in perhaps the most significant (and easily the most interesting) way imaginable.

  • Alien
    Comic Release Date:
    213775,213776,655101
    First Film:
    Alien (1979)
    Cast:
    Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Carrie Henn, Bill Paxton, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Pete Postlethwaite, Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Dan Hedaya, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir
    TV Show(s):
    Alien
    Movie(s):
    Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), Alien: Resurrection (1997), Prometheus (2012), Alien: Covenant (2017), Alien: Romulus (2024)
    Character(s):
    Ellen Ripley, Arthur Dallas, Joan Lambert, Brett (Alien), Gilbert Kane, Ash (Alien), Dennis Parker, Corporal Hicks, Carter Burke, Bishop (Alien), Rebecca ‘Newt’ Jorden, Private Hudson, Dillon (Alien), Clemens (Alien), Bishop II, David (Alien), Annalee Call, Johner (Alien), General Perez, Elizabeth Shaw, Meredith Vickers, Janek (Alien), Peter Weyland, Walter (alien) Daniels (Alien), Christopher Oram, Tennessee, Lope (Alien)
    Video Game(s):
    Alien: Isolation (2014), Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013), Aliens vs. Predator (2010), Aliens vs. Predator 2 (2001), Aliens vs. Predator (1999), Alien 3: The Gun (1993), Alien 3 (1992), Aliens (1990), Aliens: The Computer Game (1986), Alien (1984)



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