Monday, July 02, 2012

If you thought DC's continuity had problems...

DC continuity is, put charitably, a bit of a snarl right now (if Batman's only been around for five years, how do all three Robins fit in?) but it is a snarl of their own doing. Sometimes, it's easy for a writer or a book to be doing their thing, going merrily along; only to find out later that they're way off. Especially for a licensed book, but sometimes events still match up...from a certain point of view.

Our first example, Star Wars Annual #1, "The Long Hunt" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Mike Vosburg, inks by Steve Leialoha. Luke, Han, Leia and the rest are hunted (as you may have guessed) by the winged Kharys, the Majestrix of Skye; who has a history with both Han...and Luke's father.

During the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi and his two pupils (the term "padawan" wasn't in use yet) freed Skye. Grateful, the people swore their fealty to them; but years later, former pupil Darth Vader returned, invoking their oath and making the planet an Imperial "satrapy." Vader trained Kharys, who was Force-adept but would've been considered too old for the training; and made her Skye's ruler. Years later, a group of Corellian smugglers was captured on Skye, then hunted down as sport: only Han and Katya M'Buele escaped.

Katya is later killed by a smoke demon summoned by Kharys, as she hunts Han down, but the people of Skye believe "the One" will come from offworld to defeat Kharys and free them. Recognizing Luke's lightsaber, they hail him as the One, and Luke does manage to defeat Kharys in an aerial duel. (It's drawn as if Luke electrocutes her, rather than the lightsaber chopping her and her wings to bits; then the bits falling out of the sky...that would've been a sick kill, really.)
The elder of Skye tells Luke about Obi-Wan's visit to their world, and how he and two pupils freed them then. It's implied that one was Luke's father, and the other was Darth Vader. In fact, when Luke asks who the other pupil was, the elder tells him "you wear his saber," rather then telling him, "Hey, that's Vader's saber? You know him? Right piece of work, he was..." Or, you could read it as Obi-Wan, Anakin, and maybe Ahsoka freed Skye; again, from a certain point of view.
But, if the Star Wars comics continuity got dicey with the movies overriding them (and for some years, the comics were considered continuity non grata, apocrypha) those are mere bumps in the road compared to Dark Horse's first Aliens series, renamed Aliens: Outbreak for the trade.
Ten years after the movie Aliens, survivors Hicks and Newt are both a mess: Hicks was badly scarred by an acid burn, and is treated as though he could somehow be infectious; while the now-young woman Newt is institutionalized, suffering with recurring nightmares of the Aliens. The third survivor of their ill-fated expedition is mysteriously unaccounted for...

Offered a chance to go on a mission to the xenomorph's homeworld, Hicks takes it, but also frees Newt before her scheduled lobotomy. Newt falls for one of the Marines, Bueller; but the mission is hijacked by another ship; a mega-corporation who plans on using the Marines as bait to find the next step up in the Aliens' food-chain...(There is a lot of work here on the hypothetical Aliens ecology, but that would assume they evolve naturally, wouldn't it?)

The corporate soldiers tried to use the Marines as facehugger bait, but the facehuggers don't bite; and the soldiers run afoul of other creatures that may or may not be modified xenomorphs. Instead of escaping, the Marines are compelled to go back for their former captors: the Marines, including Bueller, were all synthetic androids. Their programming wouldn't let them leave a human in danger, and Bueller is torn in half; forcing Newt to wonder if their love was real. That's actually a pretty good twist, and works well in-universe.

Events are further complicated by a corporation harvesting an Alien queen's eggs, a cult that believes the Aliens are some kind of savior and starting an outbreak on earth, the arrival of another alien resembling the "space jockey" of the first film...and Alien 3, which revealed that Hicks and Newt were both killed in coldsleep when their escape pod crashes on Fiorina 'Fury' 161. Which would put the kibosh on their further adventures...

So, when Aliens: Outbreak and its sequel Nightmare Asylum were collected in trade; they were "remastered," and colored in the case of Outbreak. Hicks was changed to Wilks, while Newt became Billie; two completely different characters that just happened to have had similiar adventures. Problem solved, right?
...except Ripley returns at the end of Nightmare Asylum, again contradicting Aliens 3. Unless maybe she was a clone, like in Alien Resurrection...but I don't know if it was ever brought up again, since Dark Horse began stories that were in an Aliens universe, but didn't necessarily use characters from the movies. That still left them plenty of toys to play with, and later they would add Predator to the mix, so it worked all right for them. Either way, these two trades are still fun reads, if you're a fan. Aliens: Outbreak has art by Mark A. Nelson, Nightmare Asylum by Den Beauvais; both are written by Mark Verheiden.

I had read them before, but lucked into the trades (a buck a piece!) at a yard sale this weekend, just when I'd been thinking I hadn't seen any comics for sale for ever. Oddly, I found three separate sales with books, two of which had longboxes of DC's old Star Trek...the vast majority of which I had, too. Still, I got a fair pile that we'll see more of later.

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