Did you check out our own Glenn Walker’s piece on the much maligned and possibly misunderstood Alien 3? If not, it’s well worth your time as the man looks back at the failed third film in the venerable franchise. Glenn echoes what most of would say about the film – killing off the characters of Newt and Hicks, two of the three survivors at the end of James Cameron’s Aliens was a big mistake. Doing so in the first three minutes of the the film – unconscionable.
Here’s the thing – there is an Alien world where Newt and Hicks lived. Where she grew up and he grew angry. It was black and white, dark and desolate and one of the most disturbing comics I read as a kid. And it’s my Alien 3.
Crafted by future Battlestar Galactica writer Mark Verheiden and Mark A. Nelson back in 1988 and published by the then blossoming Dark Horse Comics, Aliens finds Col Duane Hicks about to embark on a mission to the Alien home world to gather eggs and destroy a nest. Before leaving, he goes to visit Newt, who has been in a mental hospital since their return to Earth. With her mind about to be wiped away, Hicks breaks her out and takes her on his mission. Meanwhile, a cult of Alien worshippers has risen on Earth and inevitably set lose the Aliens on the planet. Earth is overrun and and abandoned.
Tell me that wouldn’t have made a spectacular film.
I still have my Aliens trade paperback on the bookshelf, though I’m surprised it’s held up as well as it has over the past twenty-something years because I read and reread that story over and over. It was, to the best of my recollection, the first black and white comic I had ever read. It was certainly the most violent. And perhaps my love of non-happy endings began with that series, since it had just about the bleakest ending you could ever hope for. Until Alien 3 was released, that is.
You see, at the time, the Aliens comic book was considered the defacto sequel to Cameron’s film, as I mentioned above. But when David Fincher’s official cinematic sequel was released to theatres, changes were made to the Aliens comic book in subsequent printings. Newt’s name was changed to Billie and Hicks became Wilks.
Death by renaming.
It doesn’t matter, though. Look hard enough and you can find that original story, the one where two survivors didn’t die in a space crash. But based on what happens to them in that brilliant comic book series, maybe they wish they would have.