What Marvel’s alien comics are right to adapt to horror movies


A good horror story like Extraterrestrial leaves fans hungry for more, a fact that Marvel Comics takes full advantage of. Now entering a new phase in franchise history with a series from writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson, artist Salvador Larroca, colorist Guru-eFX and letterer Clayton Cowles, it’s not difficult to imagine why Extraterrestrial has been such a persistent force in popular culture. Appeared in 1979, at a time when space travel was fictionalized in movies and TV shows such as Star wars and Star Trek, Extraterrestrial tore the facade of the genre apart to tell a story that was as much sci-fi as it was horror. Space was no longer a blank canvas upon which humans could project their noblest ideas, but a ruthless void filled with monsters beyond imagination. The ideas that the first Extraterrestrial The featured film about human exploration and endurance drastically took horror and sci-fi to new heights, imbuing it with the nightmarish figure of the xenomorph.


And yet, today, the most extensive work of Extraterrestrial the franchise is not made on film, but in its Marvel Comics series. Without the cinematic attributes that gave Extraterrestrial such an immersive sense of dread in 1979 – its sound design, editing, and the illusion of reality inherent in all live-action movies – Marvel’s Extraterrestrial The series has managed to reinvigorate the franchise by understanding exactly what horror comics offer from an expressive standpoint. While other horror films have been introduced to the comic book world, such as Conspiracy, they suffered from trying to compete with the fear of their original films. More than any other comic book adaptation of a horror movie or franchise, Marvel’s Extraterrestrial succeeds because he understands that he will never be able to replicate the same type of fear from the Ridley Scott movie on the page. In fact, he’s disinterested in having his worth entirely based on fears to begin with.

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By not trying to compete with the fear of movies, Marvel’s Extraterrestrial exposes an under-recognized truth about horror comics: They aren’t necessarily meant to be “scary” as much as they are meant to be creatively limitless. A comedic adaptation of a stellar horror movie will likely never be as terrifying as the movie itself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But what a horror comedy adaptation should do is work to give the ideas of the original film new meaning. As Extraterrestrial evidence, horror is more creative than any other genre of storytelling. Approaching horror comics purely for the emotional experience of trying to scare readers misses the genre’s potential.


By developing the existing ideas that made the original 1979 so terrifying movie, Marvel’s Extraterrestrial series hollow in the grounds Why the public was supposed to be afraid of xenomorphs in the first place. Rather than trying to add more fodder to the franchise scare machine, the Extraterrestrial the comics unveil the attitudes and perspectives that originally shaped the public’s fear experience. In doing so, the Extraterrestrial the comics aren’t so much participants in the franchise scare brand as they are critics. Horror is more than a provocation of fear, it is a complex reflection of how people expect the world to exist around them, and ExtraterrestrialThe comics show how powerful this idea is in practice.

Basically, horror is an exercise in perspective, mastered by “Alien”.


Alien 7 cover showing a Xenomorph walking through a cornfield

As an art form based on text and still images on a printed page, comics are uniquely suited to horror’s most basic tenets: perspective and expectation. Something becomes scary for an audience when their views and expectations of it are manipulated. They might not think twice about it when they hear a creak of a parquet floor in real life, but in A quiet place, it’s really terrifying. Likewise, the presence of the giant killer shark in Jaws changes the public view of beaches as places of harmless entertainment to make them nightmares. With the creative freedom that comics offer, perspective and expectations can be subverted in an endless number of ways, limited only by the imagination of the creators.

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So far, Marvel Extraterrestrial is committed to showing a different perspective on the basic premise of the franchise while anticipating readers’ expectations. Given that the franchise is over forty years old, fans have high expectations for a piece of Extraterrestrial media. But rather than playing straight into those expectations every time, Extraterrestrial carefully subverts them, drawing attention to why fans expected something to happen in the first place. This is also important, because the comics don’t waste energy trying to replicate the same mechanics of ExtraterrestrialIt’s scary, through perspective and expectations, on the page.

‘Alien’ takes the most basic elements of Horror and uses them to provide new insight into the history of the franchise.


Gabe Cruz fights the xenomorph in Marvel Comics' Alien # 6.

Given the role that waiting plays in horror stories, Extraterrestrial insisted on subverting his own tropes, explaining why comic book adaptations of horror films should be seen as creative and expansive opportunities. This was mainly achieved thanks to the first arc of the series which was narrated in Extraterrestrial # 1 to # 6. Although the plot of the story follows a familiar trail, with a group going to investigate a station infested with xenomorphs, this premise has developed into a meaningful exploration of the great purpose of xenomorphs and their conflict with humans. The protagonist, Gabe Cruz, realized that xenomorphs do not act in a deliberately malicious manner against humans. They protected their homes and their offspring much like he would as a father.

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Considering that a large part of ExtraterrestrialThe legacy of the franchise as a franchise is the spectacle of fighting between humans and xenomorphs, that moment of clarity for Cruz while in the heat of the moment brought unexpected depth to comic book history. In this way, Marvel Extraterrestrial takes the foundations of horror as a genre, obtained through manipulations of perspective and expectation, and re-uses them for a discussion of why xenomorphs should be seen as horrific in the first place. In other words, the horror elements of the story are not only meant to scare readers, but also to make them think about why they should be afraid.


Comedic adaptations of horror films are more and more common today. As franchises make their transition to the page, they are faced with the question of what they want in bringing their film series to the comic book. The differences between horror comics and horror films need to be clearly recognized for what they are, so that future comic book adaptations can be designed more to fill in the thematic gaps of the films they are based on. rather than just trying to scare their readers. Ultimately, if fans want to be scared, they’ll likely choose to watch a horror movie rather than read a horror comic book. It’s a creative dead end for comedic adaptations to think of themselves only as vehicles of fear.

Horror comics take advantage of the genre’s inherent freedom as they exist in a graphic format. And while they may never be as “scary” as horror movies, horror comics offer a crucial way to discuss themes in a dramatic context. For example, Something is killing the children use monsters that feed on children to explore the theme of teenage loneliness. The bloody action sequences only exteriorize the emotional conflict at the heart of the story. In that sense, it would be remiss of publishers not to consider their horror film adaptations in the potential of a new format. If a franchise as old as Extraterrestrial may be renewed in a few issues of Marvel Comics, so the future may really be limitless for comic book adaptations of horror movies.

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