John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: Vault #3 (Comic)

By James Ninness and Andres Esparza

Published by Storm King Productions


 

I’m always excited for any Carpenter-approved story, as soon as I heard he was going to have his monthly Tales of Science Fiction series I was thrilled. However the first issue left a lot to be desired. In a world where the Alien franchise is all over the place delivering us half ass sequels and movies that back track half the time, it’s hard not to look back at the original Alien and think, “Why the fuck would you try to even mimic that? It’s perfect.

Issue #1 of Tales of Science Fiction began with a crew on a ship with the mission of collecting resources, but there was an ulterior motive set by their company to inspect an alien ship floating in space. Sound familiar? They discover the ship itself has human writing on its hull and that the ship can communicate with theirs. Prometheus territory almost, especially after they discover a fungus and monsters roaming the ship. End of issue #1.

At that point, I’m mostly out. I’ve seen this Alien rip-off a dozen times because so many people use that formula. The formula can work in a film because you aren’t waiting for that set up to pay off, but in comic book form, you’re spending $2.99 to $3.99 for a book. You have a set-up you’ve seen dozens of times and are expected to wait another month and spend another almost five bucks to see what happens. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t even get to read #2 but skipped to #3.

I don’t know what the hell happened in #2 but by #3 all hell has broken loose! One of the characters, William Nguyen Tactics, Officer (who’s drawn pretty nefariously in the first issue) seems to be trying to get the ship to Earth with the fungus on it for the company. Ash from Alien much? Our heroine, Captain Adamo, is trying her best to save everyone on the ship and learn the history of what brought the alien ship there with the fungus. The fungus apparently turns you into your most basic of forms as the humans have become gorilla monsters and the aliens who brought the ship there turned into giant lizard men.

There’s enough cool stuff here to be a good pay off but I still can’t shake the similarities between it and Alien. The creatures and gore are really cool and drawn well. I have to applaud Esparza and Martinez on the beautifully done art and color work here that adds to the atmosphere of the comic. This issue, especially, the art pops at you with all the different types of creatures. The tension set up is pretty decent throughout the book, but I feel like I missed a lot with issue #2. Regardless, it just seems like an Alien/Prometheus hybrid. I’ll give it this, it’s far more entertaining than those newer flicks could ever be and at least has some original ideas that are structured well. I just wanted more out of this series as a fan of Carpenter’s knack for picking strange and original content. I’m hoping there’s better still to come with future installments.

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Freddy Ruiz

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