Aliens: Colonial Marines is a 10-issue limited series set in the fictional Aliens universe and published irregularly by Dark Horse between January, 1993 and July, 1994.
The series was written by Chris Warner, Paul Guinan, Kelley Puckett and Dan Jolley; drawn by Tony Akins, Guinan, Allen Nunis and John Nadeau; and inked by Guinan, Ande Parks, Terry Pallot, Bob Smith, Jim McDermott and Jordi Ensign. It was lettered by Clem Robins , and colored by Matt Hollingsworth, Pamela Rambo and Doug Jones . It was edited by Dan Thorsland and Randy Stradley and the series featured painted covers by artists Robert Mentor and Joe Phillips (two of the covers focusing on Private Carmen Vazquez).
Colonial Marines was collected and reprinted for the first time in December 2007's Aliens: Omnibus, Volume 2.
The Colonial Marines story takes place after the Alien infestation of Earth, the events aboard the Innominata and the destruction of Charon Station. It focuses on a rag-tag unit of Marines investigating Alien-related activities in a backwater sector of space and coming across a mysterious group of Human-Alien hybrids loosely refered to as the "Bug-Men." The series also featured the apearance of the first relative of a character from the Aliens film series with Carmen Vasquez, younger sister of the eminently popular character of J. Vasquez from the film Aliens.
In the midst of what was Dark Horse's most active year of Aliens output, Colonial Marines was published concurrently with/followed by Aliens: Rogue (April-July 1993), Aliens: Sacrifice (May 1993), Aliens: Taste (July 1993), Aliens: Crusade (July 1993-March 1994), Aliens: Backsplash (Aug.-Sept. 1993), Aliens: Labyrinth (Sept. 1993-Jan. 1994), Aliens: Salvation (Nov. 1993), Aliens: Cargo (Nov.-Dec. 1993), Aliens: Alien (Jan.-Feb. 1994), Aliens: Music of the Spears (January-April 1994), and Aliens: Stronghold (May-Sept. 1994) and the unreleased Aliens: Matrix (May 1994). After its conclusion, it was followed by Aliens: Earth Angel (August 1994).
The ambitious series was originally set to run 12 issues, with cover numbering reflecting as much, but faced a number of creative team shifts and mid-run delays and two addition issues were eventually cancelled. Numbering was shifted with issue #8 to indicate the new run count of 10 issues. The somewhat sprawling story was also concluded and wrapped up relatively abruptly by a new creative team in the last two issues.
From issue #1-3, Colonial Marines was written by Chris Warner, pencilled by Tony Akins and inked by Paul Guinan. Iconic painted cover art was provided by artist Robert Mentor (with two of the covers focusing on Private Carmen Vazquez, sister to the popular female marine from the film Aliens). Issue 1 was edited by Randy Stradley and Dan Thorsland, and issues 2-10 were edited solely by Thorsland.
For the second three-issue story arc, issues #4-5 were written by Kelley Puckett, pencilled by Paul Guinan & Allen Nunis, inked by Ande Parks & Terry Pallot, with painted covers by new cover artist Joe Phillips. Issue #6 was by the same creative team with the sole replacement of inker Bob Smith. The series was released monthly through to issue #5 in May 1993. This was followed by a months long delay with Issue #6 released in August.
The stand-alone issue #7 was written and inked by Paul Guinan, and penciled by Guinan and Tony Akins. It again featured cover art by Robert Mentor, and came out in the following month of Sept. 1993 and was followed by a another months-long break that ended with the release of the next issue in February 1994.
Issue #8 was written by Kelly Pucket, penciled by Paul Guinan & John Nadeau, inked by Jim McDermott and again featured covert art by Joe Phillips.
Issue #9-10 were then created by the concluding creative team of writer Dan Jolley, penciler John Nadeau, inker Jordi Ensign and featured covers by Joe Phillips. Issue #9 was released in April and Issue #10 was released in July 1994.
Issues #1-5 were colored by Matt Holingsworth. Issues #6-8 were colored by Pamela Rambo. Issues #9-10 were colored by Doug Jones. Clem Robins lettered the entire series.
Meet Lt. Joseph Henry; the son of one of the most influential politicians on Earth, a proud member of the Colonial Marines, and a poor slob in a heap of trouble. Lt. Henry, after yet again being charged with insubordination, is put in command of a platoon of the absolute worst Marines in the sector and assigned the lowest detail in the Corp -- checking up on a toxic waste dump! What Lt. Henry and company don't know is that this mission is about to go from bad to worse, because a strangely organized batch of Aliens has taken over the waste dump!
Private Carmen Vasquez has joined the corp and is working hard to become as tough as her legendary big sister. What Carmen and the rest of her platoon don't know is that their mission will bring them face-to-face with the terror that took her sister's life, and has haunted her dreams ever since... ALIENS! Take a gruesome tour of a derelict space station with a group of Aliens who know the meaning of Semper Fi!
Lt. Henry and his crew of ne'er-do-wells are -- to put it simply -- in the soup. Stranded in a space station with a pack of bloodthirsty Aliens waiting behind every access hatch, this platoon of Colonial Marines will leave no shell unfired in their struggle to survive. And as the pulse-fire echoes through the corridors, a hideous plan of mutating humans into Aliens is uncovered, leading Lt. Henry to wonder if this is more than just a random infestation.
After barely escaping the rail-gun station known as the Sun Gun, our not-so-happy band of Marines is looking forward to a little R&R on the backwater (and we do mean water) planet Bracken's World. Guess again! The mysterious "father" from last issue has already established a foothold on the dreary little planet, and isn't about to let Lt. Henry interfere with his schemes. Get ready for aquatic action and intrigue as our hapless heroes are betrayed from within by the only person that can save them!
Our merry band of Marines has holed up in the only major city on Bracken's World, and as Lt. Henry attempts to rally the local colonists against the approaching Alien army, he begins to suspect Beliveau's real reason for being on this mission. After all, why would a high-powered Company man have any interest in such a remote section of the galaxy? Does Beliveau hold the secret to the bizarre Alien/human hybrid they captured at the railgun station? Could he even be responsible for these well-organized Alien attacks? Intrigue, action, and rusty rooftops -- what more could you want?
The showdown on Bracken's World comes to a skull-crunching climax as Marines and colonists go toe-to-toe with the forces of the maniacal Bug-Men. And lest you think we would forgo plot development for the sake of action -- Beliveau fesses up as to the identity of the enigmatic "father" of the Bug-Men! The plot is thickening quickly, folks, so don't miss this pivotal issue!
Stranded in a remote sector of space with only a Dropship for transportation, Lt. Henry strikes an uneasy deal with Beliveau, the secretive company man who has many hidden, deadly agendas.
In return for the aid of the Colonial Marines, Beliveau leads Henry to an Alphatech storage facility piled high with state-of-the-art weapons designed to "eliminate" Aliens. The hardware will indeed come in handy, but the sole occupants of the complex -- outdated maintenance robots -- are already using them to ward off the latest Alien incursion!
Armed with prototype weapons and a powered-up Dropship, Lt. Henry begins the final assault against the Alien menace. While he is planning his strategy, his crew is succumbing to strange withdrawal symptoms, and the ones still on their feet are plotting mutiny!
Henry's only hope is to reprogram Liston, the high-powered synthetic, to follow his every command -- even if it means killing a human being. The air is thick with tension, and a traitor will step out of the darkness with a gun in his hand and murder in his heart. A guaranteed shocker!
This is it: the endgame! Lt. Henry has tracked the "father" of the Alien forces -- a rogue colonel pursuing a mad dream of cosmic purity -- to a subspace communications relay, and plans an all-out assault against him! His command is weak, the Marines around him are planning mutiny at the first opportunity, and now the captive "bugman" is beginning to mutate into something that will shock the entire crew! Lt. Joseph Henry has never taken the easy path, and this time it just may kill him! The pulse-pounding conclusion to this action-packed series! Face to face with the deadly leader of this system-wide Alien infestation, Lt. Henry begins a suicide mission to fulfill his mad obsession: to kill "the Father" of the Aliens, no matter what the cost.
Behind the Scenes
Aliens: Colonial Marines featured a number of firsts for the Aliens universe, including the first depiction of Aliens adapting to their environment based on the animals they gestate in in the form of the seafaring Aliens of the planet Bracken's World, the mutagenic effects of the Alien Queen's royal jelly on humans, and the introduction of the popular Alien-killing mercenary Herk Mondo in issue #6. (Mondo would go on to star in two one-shots of his own in following years.)
The series also featured the appearance of the first relative of a character from the Aliens film series with Carmen Vasquez, younger sister of the eminently popular character of J. Vasquez from the film Aliens.
Continuity-wise there are references to numerous events and characters from various other Aliens comics stories including Outbreak, Nightmare Asylum, Earth War, Rogue, Newt's Tale, Labyrinth, and others.