On a distant frozen world, “artificial persons” 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 – 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 daughter’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 we’ve come to expect in an Aliens story, but it does include the requisite acid-spewing Xenomorphs and synthetic “artificial persons.”
This deluxe graphic novella format is more reminiscent of Mike Richardson and John Arcudi’s four-issue limited series Aliens: Genocide from the early ’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.
It’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.
Kieth’s art is good here, but I’m not entirely sold on his depiction of the alien itself. Giger’s nightmarish architecture has been over-exaggerated, with the alien’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.