Aliens (aka Aliens, vol. 2 or Aliens: Book II, collected as Aliens: Book Two, and more recently as Aliens: Nightmare Asylum) is the second comic book series based on the Alien franchise. Published by Dark Horse Comics from August 1989 - May 1990, the 4-issue limited series was written by Mark Verheiden with art and cover illustration by airbrush artist Den Beauvais and lettering by Bob Pinaha and David Jackson. It was edited by Randy Stradley.
The series was later edited for content and retitled Aliens: Nightmare Asylum for subsequent reprints and collected editions, which is the title the story is currently known by. It was also adapted as the novel Aliens: Nightmare Asylum, under the same title. In the Aliens comics line, Aliens (Series 2) was followed by Aliens: Earth War (June-October 1990).
Originally intended as a sequel to James Cameron's Aliens, the first three Aliens comics mini-series featured the continuing adventures of the surviving film characters of Rebecca 'Newt' Jorden and Corporal Dwayne Hicks. As such the stories formed a continuation of the two Alien films that had been released when they were published.
In order to keep the stories relevant to the Alien films after the release of Alien 3, which featured the deaths of Newt and Corporal Hicks, Dark Horse Comics changed the names of the characters for future printings of the stories. Newt became "Billie" while Hicks was now known as "Wilks". The other major difference between the original publications is that trade paperbacks were renamed from Aliens: Book One, and Aliens: Book Two, to Aliens: Outbreak and Aliens: Nightmare Asylum.
This change in story elements and titles was first put into effect in the series of Aliens novels released by Bantam Books in conjunction with Dark Horse. The company then released new, retitled trade paperback editions of the comics stories under the same titles and featuring the same character names. These new versions are now considered standard.
Official description of individual issues from original release as Aliens: Book Two: The world goes mad for Hicks and Newt. In their desperate attempt to escape an Earth overrun with aliens, their ship lands at a top secret Marine Base where a crazed General is attempting to train aliens for use in battle!
Newt and Hicks join with the survivors of General Spear's army of Marines in a desperate attempt to reclaim the Earth from the aliens, but it is an effort that seems to be doomed from the start! However, help comes from an unexpected quarter in this spectacular conclusion to one of the most popular miniseries of the year!
Aliens: Nightmare Asylum
Official description of reprint edition: Wilks, Billie, and Bueller were the last survivors of a devastating assault on the aliens' home planet. But their return to the solar system made them refugees once more, fleeing earth and its alien infestation in a desperate attempt to stay alive. Now, in an otherwise unmanned military transport, they hurtle through space, destination: unknown, while in the cargo hold they carry with them a legacy of death they thought they'd left behind!
The story continues where Aliens: Outbreak left off with Billie, the synthetic Bueller, and Wilks a short time after having escaped the alien-infested Earth on a cargo ship. The crew discovers the ship is ferrying aliens to an unknown destination.
After killing the aliens, the ship autopilots to a military post commanded by General Spears, who is breeding and attempting to train aliens to fight against their own kind on Earth. He is depicted as ruthless, and is called insane by several characters. Throughout the story it is revealed that Spears is extremely paranoid about his own safety and the safety of his aliens, and is willing to sacrifice his own troops without hesitation.
As the story progresses, the aliens inevitably escape captivity and begin taking over the military base. Wilks and Billie manage to hide on the same ship General Spears uses to escape. Once aboard the ship Wilks and Billie realize it is full of "trained" aliens that Spears intends on using to take back the infested Earth. The synthetic Bueller also manages to send a transmission saying goodbye to Billie as they were separated in the middle of the story. Since Bueller is a synthetic and torn in two the aliens do not engage him in any way. Bueller is left alone and abandoned in the military base.
Before Spears lands on Earth, Wilks and Billie jettison out in a small escape pod towards a different space station, aware that their chances of survival on Earth are slim. Once Spears lands on Earth he releases his "trained" aliens and expects them to attack the Earth-bred aliens. The "trained" aliens end up turning on Spears. In the end Spears realizes that the aliens were never actually trained, but simply remaining patient throughout their supposed training. The Queen and the other aliens had every intention of getting to Earth and killing Spears. Spears is brutally killed at the end of this realization.
- Hicks (renamed Wilks in Omnibus)
- Newt (renamed Billie in Omnibus)
- Butler (renamed Bueller in Omnibus)
- General Spears
- Ellen Ripley
Unlike many Aliens series, Book Two was quite slow to being released in a mass-market form.
After its initial comic book release from August to May of 1990, Aliens: Book Two was first collected and released in Sept. 1990 in a deluxe limited hard cover edition featuring an embossed hardcover with Smythe-sewn binding. Beauvais created an all-new painting for the illustrated dust jacket, as well as designing special endpapers. Also included were an all-new, full-color painting by Beauvais which serves as a bound-in signature plate that were signed and numbered by both the author and artist. This 112-page deluxe hardcover volume was limited to 2,500 copies.
In the UK, the series was reprinted in 5 parts from Feb.-June of 1991 in issues 1-5 of the UK Aliens magazine.
In Sept. 1993, the series was again collected for inclusion in The Complete Aliens, a similarly deluxe limited edition hard cover which for the first time collected all of the early Dark Horse Aliens comics including: Aliens Book One; Aliens Book Two; Aliens: Earth War; and Dark Horse Presents: Aliens. This slip-cover edition was also Smythe-sewn and featured a foil-stamped, bonded-leather binding with specially printed end papers and included a special gallery featuring many of the collections' original covers and a signature page with new Aliens art from of the artists for the original comics and signed by many of the creators. It was limited to only 500 copies.
In Oct. 1996, the series was finally collected and released by itself as a much lower cost trade paperback, but in a new content-edited form and under the new title Aliens, Vol. 2: Nightmare Asylum. This release was part of Dark Horse's "Aliens Remastered" series of trade paperbacks which attempted to bring the comics in line with Aliens movie continuity. Thus, the new character names created for the 1992 novelizations of Aliens: Book One and Book Two were used. The Nightmare Asylum trade paperback was edited by Lynn Adair and featured a new cover by John Bolton and new lettering by Willie Schubert.
The series, again as Nightmare Asylum, was finally collected as part of Aliens Omnibus: Volume 1 in July 2007.