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G’lurk & Bo #1 v. Aliens: Dead Orbit (a comparative review)

G’Lurk & Bo Meet an Angel of Death #1 – Writer: Taylor King; Artist: Tom Hoskisson. BG Comics, 2020.

Aliens: Dead Orbit – Writer and Artist: James Stokoe. Dark Horse Comics, 2018

This is about as diverse as we get in our comparative reviews – a horror comic measured against a wacky comedy, both set in deep space. While the premise of the Aliens franchise is well-known amongst science fiction readers, G’Lurk & Bo is somewhat more obscure. The pitch for G’Lurk & Bo reads as follows:

“G’Lurk & Bo are just a couple of regular joes, hauling cargo from the outer reaches of the galaxy, but something about this trip is different. Way different… Pineapple Express meets Alien: two deep space truckers in the 31st century are preyed upon by a mysterious alien stowaway. inspired by Heavy Metal, Arthur C. Clarke and Douglas Adams, this book should appeal to older fans of comic books, science fiction, horror, and comedy.

It is a genuinely funny title. G’Lurk is a somewhat goofy amphibious Europs alien (the suggestion here, we suppose, is that the moon of Europa with its seas have sentient life) who swears a lot using the word “flurk”, and Bo is a somewhat hard-bitten Earthling. The two work for a company called SNS (“A division of Bergman Mining Corp”) and have been woken from cryogenic slumber by their onboard artificial intelligence. Something quite dangerous with sharp teeth and claws is lurking in the ship, and the AI, named Sys, either does not seem to notice it or is faking ignorance.

All of this might seem very familiar to fans of Alien – a sinister AI facilitating the study of an alien menace. Except, G’Lurk and Bo are stoners. The two light up very quickly in the story, and watch a movie while the ship tries to work out the cause of the magnetic field disturbance was that shifted their passage through space. The protagonists’ drug-fuelled state means that they are not quite sure whether there is a threat or whether they are just having a series of unpleasantly trippy moments. The fact that the AI does not seem to notice the presence of the intruder underscores their uncertainty about the danger. Being wasted is an unexpected twist on science fiction horror.

We have chosen to compare this story to Aliens: Dead Orbit, published by Dark Horse Comics in 2018. In contrast to the fun of G’Lurk & Bo, Aliens: Dead Orbit , written and drawn by James Stokoe, is a cliched, dreary mess. Granted, the deadly aliens of the franchise have a tendency to stab people through the abdomen, but the gratuitous overuse of the sound effect “HGK!” “HEF!”, and “HGH!” to describe someone being impaled suggests that Mr Stokoe’s index fingers were magnetically attracted to the second line of his keyboard.

Exclusive Preview: Aliens: Dead Orbit Shows James Stokoe's Vision of  Claustrophobic Space Terror - Paste

The pawns in this tale are the deep space workers, a stereotypically motley crew on an industrial freighter who refer to each other by their surnames (following the lead of the classic motion pictures – the movie’s hero, “Ripley”, is almost never referred to by her first name). The timeline of the plot of Aliens: Dead Orbit as straight as a xenomorph’s serrated tail spike, a neat trick given the plot of “alien picks off crew in a big space ship” is a very well-trodden and direct path in the franchise. And the ending left the reader wondering what happened. There is a sole survivor floating in space. So what?


The art however is excellent. It is detailed and gritty, and reminds us of the backgrounds of Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri’s work on Druuna, a very different type of dystopian space epic which we have previously reviewed The scene of the disintegrating space station in orbit, framed by a hostile planet, is extremely striking – it clearly shows the extent of the complete disaster which the characters face.

G’Lurk & Bo is clearly a different thing entirely. It is a parody, but one which, unlike Aliens: Dead Orbit, does not lean too heavily on the Alien plot template. The dialogue is very funny. After almost being sucked into deep space, G’Lruk says, “That was flurking scary, and I lost that joint! Flurk!” which made us laugh out loud – to die in the void is as much as a disaster as losing one’s recreational drugs to the void. The advertisements, one for the trustworthiness of the Sys AI platform, and one for “Greebley’s good shit”, are excellent intermissions to the slowly building tension, and remind us of Howard Chaykin’s silly, highly creative digressions in Amerikan Flagg! (First Comics, 1988). And there is a letters page, with some goofy faux-correspondence from readers including Mary Ellen from Virginia, who things G’Lurk is “really cute!”

There’s never a mis-step in the delivery of the humour, and we thought this title was an excellent antidote to the ho-hum gore of Aliens: Dead Orbit.