Alien's Original Engineer Secret Made Them Deadlier Than Xenomorphs

The early points of the Alien franchise explored xenomorphs more than Engineers, despite the introduction of the "Space Jockey" in the first film. Aliens: Outbreak—a comic from Dark Horse Comics—revealed a living Engineer. While these beings are able to be killed by xenomorphs, the comics made them a much bigger threat than they appear to be.

The Pilot, also known as the Space Jockey, was the first Engineer seen in Alien (1979). A living Engineer wasn't seen in film until Prometheus (2012). In Aliens: Outbreak, published in 1988, one of these beings interacted with humans. This Dark Horse comic has the creative team of Mark Verheiden, Mark A. Nelson, Ron Randall, and Willie Schubert. This same Engineer would also appear in the comic sequels Aliens: Nightmare Asylum (creative team: Mark Verheiden, Den Beauvais, and Roger Casselman) and Aliens: Female War (creative team: Mark Verheiden, Sam Kieth, Pat Brosseau, and John Bolton). While now considered non-canon thanks to Alien 3's release, this sequel to Aliens gave the Engineer a large role as an unforeseen threat.

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Within the comic, Newt and Cpl. Hicks survived and find their paths crossing many years after the events of Aliens. During a trip to Xenomorph Prime—the home world of the film's deadly aliens—Newt has a run-in with a living Engineer. Initially, it seems like an ally, destroying numerous xenomorphs easily. However, over the course of the next two comic series, it is revealed that the Engineer had a much more diabolical plan in mind.

Newt understands the extraterrestrial being through a kind of "visceral" connection. The Engineer in these comics was a friend to the Pilot and now harbors deep hatred for xenomorphs. Newt, Hicks, and Ripley go through a sequence of intense interactions with xenomorphs and Earth falls to xenomorph infestation thanks to religious zealotry and scientific experimentation. Yet when all is said and done, the Engineer reveals to Newt that it set this series of events into motion, seeing a grand opportunity for its own future. It wanted the xenomorphs to take over the Earth so the overall threat could be eliminated, as well as humans, letting the Engineer terraform the planet into its new home. The Engineers have long been seen as mysterious beings who are almost deity-like in nature. They are believed to be creators with great knowledge. However, these Alien comics made them more selfish creatures following their own desires and emotions. Instead of taking over Earth itself, the Engineer facilitates humanity's loss of the planet, without having to lift a finger in doing so. It played the various humans it interacted with (Newt and Ripley) like puppets, allowing it to have its ultimate, hidden goal in the end.

Xenomorphs are deadly creatures who kill indiscriminately, focusing on survival and reproduction. They are largely a horrific organism that easily infests areas to the detriment of humans and other organisms. Engineers, on the other hand, have the ability to manipulate others into doing their dirty work. This gives them the ability to conquer planets without coming across as threats early on. Xenomorphs may leave a high body count, but a single Engineer can wipe out a planet's entire population if it pulls the right strings in the Alien universe.

More: Aliens' Comic Sequel Was a Tragic Human-Android Romance



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