I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t the first Aliens book from Dark Horse that didn’t disappoint me a bit. In contrast to the other books, this one was too much of your standard “everyone dies” stories. If I were being lenient, then I would at the same time give them credit for being the first to do this in recent stories released. To some extent you could say that some creative team had to be the one to be daring enough to do this.
For this last issue, I tried to look at this from the perspective of understanding what this actually was in contrast to what I thought this could have been. This was a coming of age story, but just not in the general sense that you expect. The kid didn’t learn valuable lessons, and I’m not sure that we can say that he grew up by the same definition given to those in normal society. At best, Maxon is a kid who survived his first encounter with Xenomorphs and knows that there is nothing scarier that he will have to deal with in this universe unless he has a second encounter with them.
Waiting until the end to turn things around for Maxon was also a bold move. Since the start of this mini, he was a troublesome lead for just being a kid in a horror story. These days that is an automatic dealbreaker. There’s not much you can do with kids without leaning into cliches. As they said, days ago Maxon was just a twelve-year-old boy, concerned with the kinds of things that concern young boys. Keeping him alive lead to too many who died trying to keep him safe, and there was that one scene that you couldn’t overlook because it would be a kid who sees something dangerous and does say anything. It was hard to believe that when it counted most he could be able to toughen up to help himself. His big choice made at the end was commendable, but that was about it for him. No true growth for someone who was for the most part in the way.
Where this story saw a turnaround was understanding that not everything was as it seemed. Despite all the casualties and losses up to this point, there were still plenty of questions left unasked about how this situation came to be. Xenomorphs don’t come out of nowhere. You either stumble upon them out there in space, or you bring that danger to your doorstep. Understanding that this was a situation created by people helped to make a lot more sense of the direction that this story has taken. I could backtrack to say that this is one of those cases where you have to be patient to reach this point, but there was too much that unfolded within the span of those first three issues that you would call forgettable. A slaughter here, a slaughter there, there was more spectacle over everything else. Not to mention more than half of the people who died you didn’t see on the pages. For those who pick this up for the gore, that is a big negative.
The interior art was solid. I can’t say that there was anything too standout about the style of art chosen for Dust to Dust. What I can say is that the effort was impressive when it came to the final encounter with the Xenomorphs. It takes patience to pull off that kind of uniformity and consistency with the mass of Xenomorphs that these characters had to get through. Especially when the only two colors you really have to work with are blacks and greys. meaning that every line that forms separation matters to distinguish one object from the next. Aside from that, the reaction shots they did nail which made a big difference when we needed that air of suspense for who was going to make it out of situation.
I did get to the end of Aliens: Dust to Dust #4 feeling like I wanted more from this story than what they gave us. It’s hard not to when this was another story where majority of the characters bit the dust. As I said before, we didn’t even get those deaths in gruesome detail either. If we are being fair, then you could say that this story served as another perfect example of where humanity becomes their own worst enemy.