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Marvel Comics' Alien is Avoiding the Franchise's Biggest Cliché

Warning: spoilers for Alien #7 are ahead. 

The xenomorphs from Alien are some of the most recognizable monsters in pop culture, evident in their appearances in Marvel Comics. But beyond their insect-like looks and hulking size, what has made the xenomorphs so distinctive is their birthing process. First depicted in the infamous "chestburster" scene from Alien, the xenomorphs are able to reproduce by laying eggs that house facehuggers, or smaller aliens that latch onto the faces of their prey. Once latched, facehuggers implant an embryo into the host that later bursts out of their chests in typical "chestburster" fashion. This level of biological detail creates a sense of established rules for how the xenomorphs exist in the Alien franchise.

Given this trajectory for xenomorphs in the Alien films, the humans they come into contact with often fall prey to them in exactly the same manner, which a new issue of Marvel's ongoing Alien series wisely avoids. One of the most common ways that crew members die in Alien is that they gaze too closely at a xenomorph egg, causing a facehugger to explode out of it and latch onto their faces. In Alien #7, Jane, the leader of a human colony on the moon of Euridice, narrowly avoids this fate when she investigates a wrecked ship that landed on her land (written by Philip Kennedy Johnson, art by Salvador Larroca, colors by Guru-eFX, letters by VC's Clayton Cowles). Though the ship appeared to be initially deserted aside from a collection of xenomorph eggs, Jane was knocked away from them by a crew member who was infected with a chestburster before she could get too close.

Related: Marvel's Version of Xenomorphs Are The X-Men's Weirdest Enemy

Alien #7's avoidance of the franchise's most clichéd death signals how the current Marvel series is self-reflective about its place in the franchise's history. Had Jane been a victim of a facehugger on the ship, it would have fulfilled a familiar story beat that fans can already find in other areas of the franchise. With a new story arc beginning with issue seven, this small deviation signals that what lies ahead could offer a satisfying alternative to Alien stories in the past.

Already, the terms for the humans' and xenomorphs' conflict in Alien #7 is radically different from previous issues of the comic and the franchise's most familiar settings. The aliens' takeover of the human ship happened off the page, and their entrance into this arc's story occurs with their landing on a terraformed moon. This reverses the dynamic that was present in the first Alien film, when humans arrived onto xenomorph territory in space, in an environment that was already hostile to them. Here, it is the humans' idyllic setting that is disturbed by the arrival of the xenomorphs, prompting a question of whether or not it is truly possible for humans to exist outside of Earth without facing the consequences of their actions.

Early on, Alien struck a perfect balance between science fiction world building and horror scares, but over time, the franchise became bogged down by repeating the original's story beats. Alien #7 offers a promising look at the good that can come out of deviating from these expectations. With the comic already finding its footing in examining the franchise's biggest shortcomings, Marvel's Alien is poised to produce its most expansive work since the 1979 film.

Next: The Movie Alien Literally Saved The X-Men in Marvel's Universe

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