The Alien comics are known for their great artwork and classic storylines showing us things never seen in the Alien movies before. They have explored the Xenomorph homeworld, the Alien invasion of Earth and all kinds of new types of Aliens. Here is a top 10 list of the best ones in descending order, including many old classics.
This is one of the few Alien comics not published by Dark Horse and tells the story of the first Alien film. Although you probably already know what happens, there are some subtle differences with the movie. For example, you get to see Dallas turn off the Derelict Ship beacon (this also happens in Alien: Isolation but very differently) and the chestburster looks different. All the Alien attack scenes and the Derelict ship look amazing. The key moments are presented in big splash pages that channel the design of Moebius and Giger. The other Alien movies have comic book adaptations of their own, but they are quite lackluster and Alien has the best one.
Stronghold shares many similarities with a better Aliens story, namely Labyrinth. There is a mad scientist experimenting on Aliens on a distant base. The Aliens eventually get loose and wreak havoc while the human characters try to escape. However, what makes this comic unique is the dark humor and the somewhat lighter tone. Stronghold also introduces one of the most memorable Expanded Universe characters - a cigar chomping android Alien by the name of Jeri. Jeri likes to smoke, crack jokes and shoot real Xenomorphs. He is also afraid of another big android - Dean, the Alien destroyer. Together they make a great pair.
Aliens: Genocide is a classic Alien comic released in the year 1992. It shows us the mission to the Alien Homeworld to acquire royal jelly, a highly addictive substance produced by the Aliens. Although the Xenomorph Homeworld was previously shown in Female War, Genocide explores it in much more detail. There are two warring factions of Aliens, the red and the black Xenomorphs. The red Aliens lead by the Red Queen are visually amazing and have spawned a number of action figures. The comic is also one of the few stories to explore Earth after the infestation of Aliens and introduces the Grant Corporation, which appears in some other Alien stories.
The first Aliens vs. Predator series is a bit more of a Predator story and I have also included it in the top 10 Predator comics list. The comic was the first crossover comic for both species and an important start for a new series. For the Alien series, it introduces some interesting concepts like a captured Queen laying eggs for the Predators and Xenomorphs being born from other species (the rhynth). The artwork is decent and the main characters - Machiko Noguchi and Dachande are quite badass and easy to root for. The comic was also the basis of the first Alien vs. Predator movie.
Aliens: Tribes is not actually a comic book, but more like a graphic novel. It reads like a book, but on every second or third page is filled by great artwork by Dave Dorman. It's quite a unique book and has not been collected in any Dark Horse omnibuses so far. The story is about a Colonial Marine berserker squad being sent to a medical facility infested by Aliens. The berserker squads first showed up in Aliens: Berserker and are implemented here perfectly. The highlight is Private Shitkicker (one of the most badass Colonial Marines ever) in his power armor taking down a hive full of Aliens.
While Prometheus was very similar to the Alien vs. Predator movie, it was even more similar to the Aliens: Apocalypse - Avenging Angels comic book. Apocalypse has a crew of mercenaries (Throop Transport) traveling to a Space Jockey world and discovering a part of their origins. There is even a connection to Earths distant past. Similarly to the movie, they find a living a Space Jockey but thankfully it does not resemble an albino human. The series came out in 1999 and at the time was one of the few comics to take place before Aliens. The design of the Space Jockeys is great and it handles some of the philosophical aspects of the Engineers and Aliens better than Prometheus.
This is perhaps the only Alien comic that is heavily influenced by Alien 3. It even borrows some ideas from the partly abandoned Wooden Planet idea of the third Alien movie, which is a good thing. It has a lone woman crashing onto a planet in an escape pod. The planet has a small isolated society with a dark secret they don't want to reveal to outsiders. The small town is constantly harassed by a lone Alien that shares many similarities with the Dragon from Alien 3. Same of the revelations of the society are truly horrifing and there is also a dream-like quality to the story. The artwork is great and fits the story very well. There are also some religious undertones but they don't go overboard with it.
Aliens: Dead Orbit tells a lot of story with minimal dialogue and highly detailed artwork. Inspired by the first Alien movie and the Alien: Isolation video game, it tells the story of a small crew of salvage "truckers" encountering an abandoned ship with a dark secret. Of course, all hell breaks loose and the crew is picked off one by one. The twin Aliens in the comic are actually born from twins and always act in pairs. The artwork of the comic is probably the best of any Alien comic and it would be great to see other Alien works from the same team.
Labyrinth is one of the most violent and messed up Alien comics out there. It is also one of the best. The main story is a bit regular for the Expanded Universe, in a sense that a mad scientist is experimenting on Aliens, which happened a lot in the 90ties Alien stories. What makes it great is the backstory of the mad villain - when he was young the Xenomorphs captured and experimented on him in an Alien hive. He had to endure sick torture on himself and his crewmembers and family. With this in mind, you even feel some sympathy forward him. Labyrinth also comes with an awesome action-packed prequel story, that explains what happened to Colonel Crespi before the events of the main comic.
Nightmare Asylum is the best Alien comic ever, although it can be said it is more of an Aliens comic than an Alien one. I actually loved Alien 3, but this is the continuation of the story of Aliens that its fans were hoping for. Nightmare Asylum is the second part of the epic Earth War trilogy and stars Wilks and Billie (or Hicks and Newt, whichever version you read). The artwork is great and fits the dark mood, dream sequences and tension perfectly. Although it is part of a larger story, it wraps up its story arc of General Spears trying to free Earth with his Xenomorph army nicely. A highly recommended read and probably a great companion for the upcoming William Gibson alternate Alien 3 comic.
Here are some runners-up and honorable mentions: Aliens: Berserker, Aliens: Rogue, Aliens: Defiance and the Fire and Stone series. Do you agree with the list? Let me know through social media. Want to know more about Aliens? Check out the list of Badass Aliens and the Alien Timeline.