On a distant frozen world, â€œartificial personsâ€ are manufactured by mega-conglomerate Weyland-Yutani. These formidable new security synthetics, designed for combat, test their mettle against a hive of deadly Xenomorphs.
Socialization Specialist Jean DuPaul, who teaches the synthetics empathy, sees her ever-more-human android students sent to their destruction and learns that the most savage species in the universe is man.
Aliens: Inhuman Condition tells the story of Jean DuPaul and Bear, an unlikely duo in that Bear is an inanimate object â€“ a fluffy, pink teddy bear to be exact. DuPaul lost her husband and daughter, and all she has left of her family is Bear, the stuffed synthetic play-thing that was to be her daughterâ€™s.
Written by Eisner and Harvey Award-winner John Layman (Chew, Detective Comics), Inhuman Conditions sees DuPaul traumatized after losing her family during a Xenomorph attack. She’s eventually rescued by a task force of androids – but the damage is done.
DuPaul’s world view has been shattered, forcing her to see reality differently than her co-workers at the Weyland-Yutani manufacturing plant. She confides in Bear (think Steven Spielberg’s Artificial: Intelligence) and begins to see the Androids she teaches social skills to as living, breathing, human beings.
Aliens: Inhuman Condition deviates from the world of space marines and company shenanigans weâ€™ve come to expect in an Aliens story, but it does include the requisite acid-spewing Xenomorphs and synthetic â€œartificial persons.â€
This deluxe graphic novella format is more reminiscent of Mike Richardson and John Arcudiâ€™s four-issue limited series Aliens: Genocide from the early â€™90s. Genocide was really the first Aliens comic to shift the focus away from existing movie characters and explore other aspects of the Alien universe, like the infestation of Earth.
Itâ€™s hard not to compare Inhuman Condition to those early Dark Horse Aliens mini-series like Aliens: Book One (1988), Aliens: Book Two (aka Nightmare Asylum) (1989), and Aliens: Earth War (1990), which Sam Kieth drew for Mark Verheiden.
Kiethâ€™s art is good here, but Iâ€™m not entirely sold on his depiction of the alien itself. Gigerâ€™s nightmarish architecture has been over-exaggerated, with the alienâ€™s jaw seemingly dislocated from its phallic head, making for a more cartoonish (and less frightening) version of the creature.
This hardcover release collects stories from Dark Horse Presents #12-#17 and presents an interesting one-off from what we typically expect from the Aliens franchise.
There’s even a brief appearance by the Derelict from Alien (or is that the Juggernaut from Prometheus?), but it seems to be nothing more than a visual cameo – there’s no real grand mythology attached to Layman’s story that connects these events to film canon.
Overall, if you’re dying for new Aliens stories then Inhuman Condition is worth a flip-through. If you can dig the art style, there’s a nifty little story at work with some surprising twists and a few moments of signature Aliens body horror.