Let's be honest, we are not living in the salad days of Aliens or Predators. For example, 2010's Predators was serviceable, but it didn't have nearly enough governors.
The much anticipated 2013 video game Aliens: Colonial Marines -- which was touted as a spiritual sequel to James Cameron's Aliens -- disappointed fans when they discovered it was a tureen o' turds. In that game, the enemies' artificial intelligence was so execrably pooptacular that the player's space marine could jog through entire stages unmolested by Aliens.
And then there was Prometheus, a film that proved $130 million, world-class actors, and phantasmagoric set design are all for naught if your script resembles an episode of Lost in Space written by an infinite amount of orangutans trapped in a doorless room with a single typewriter and an infinite amount of fermented papaya.
But as lousy as all these things were, they pale in comparison to Operation: Aliens, an animated series from the early 1990s that never made it to air.
Mountain lions can be cowed by a jacket raised above one's head, just as Aliens fear anatomically impossible legs.
That's right, the extraterrestrial species that was originally conceived as a hurdy-gurdy fuckball of phalli and vulvae juxtaposed every which way Mr. Potato Head style was once considered prime material for a children's show. Ghostbusters, Aliens was not.
NOW BACK TO THE ADVENTURES OF THORAX DICK AND HIS SIDEKICK, A BUTT.
Let's not forget that this was a unique era in kids' programming when it was perfectly normal to transform the mental anguish of a PTSD-afflicted Vietnam vet into a Saturday morning cartoon about a one-man G.I. Joe squad who don't own any shirts.
Frank's He-Man Page
"Haha, Rambo jumped the shark himself! Fuck you, Mr. Future Blogger Man!"
Operation: Aliens never made it past rudimentary development stages, but the show received a slew of tie-in merchandise, including an extensive 1992 action figure line that came packaged with fantastically shoddy comic books.
"BLORG BLAH BLAH?" "FLOORG FLARGH FAAART."
And from these comics -- which, let's be real, were written for the express purpose of selling toys -- we can glean a rough outline of what Operation: Aliens would've looked like. Here are four scenes that made AvP look like, uh, SvX. (That stands for Schroedinger Vs. Xenophon.)
The Operation: Aliens action figure roster drew from the cast of the Aliens movie -- you had protagonist Ellen Ripley and other assorted space marines. In fact, the only figure to not appear in the films was Atax, some guy who wouldn't shut up about the tactical benefits of cross-dressing as an Alien.
In the future, "maximum" will be only one of but nine adjectives available to English speakers.
One smug bastard who got off wearing his yiff suit into battle aside, all of these characters appeared in the movies. And -- 25-YEAR-OLD SPOILER ALERT -- most of them died a gruesome death by the end of Aliens, and 100 percent of the action figure line kicked the bucket when the embattled Alien 3 stopped rolling.
Even more bizarrely, these comics go out of their way to feature the space marines wistfully recalling their adventures on the moon of Acheron, aka the setting of Aliens, aka the place where nearly everybody died.
"What happened was I died in cryosleep! That shit was hilarious."
Later in the comic, the space marines rescue their sergeant from a xenomorph hive. They wax nostalgic about their time on Acheron and Sarge's speedy recovery.
Here's what happened to Sarge at the end of Aliens.
Hint: Those arrows are pointing to individual molecules.
Nothing galvanizes your troops like the ability to reconstitute your own corpse after a nuclear explosion. The only feat of leadership more inspiring would be commanding Sun Tzu to give Dwight Eisenhower a handjob while Lee Iacocca watches.
Operation: Aliens enjoyed not explaining to readers why all of their favorite deceased space marines were inexplicably alive. One must assume that its plot occurs in an alternate universe where 90 percent of Aliens unfolded as we know it, but these Bizarro dimension Aliens had their genetic code fucked up after they parasitized a species of grossly inbred cuddle yetis. I have immortalized such an eventuality in MS Paint below.
Indeed, the xenomorphs in the Operation: Aliens comics were so unthreatening they might as well have had marmalade for blood. The space marines tore right through them like honeydews with exoskeletons. Take this scene, in which the space marines square off against an Alien queen. To conserve ammo, the heroes park a winged terrarium on her.
"You guys wanted 1,000 bullets to kill 1,000 Aliens, but I bought a spaceship to momentarily inconvenience one."
The artwork in the follow-up scene is no great shakes, but I love how the illustrator captures the Alien queen's incredulity at being killed by maybe the fiscally irresponsible boondoggle in the history of extraterrestrial murder.
"CURSES, BESTED BY CYLINDERS AGAIN!"
Side note: The 1990s Aliens toy line included almost no "normal" Aliens. You could buy a bunch of weird half-animal hybrids -- like mantis, crab, and rhino Aliens -- but very few straight-up "alien" Aliens.
Aliens 6: We Banged A Zoo.
It was not unlike a Dark Knight Rises action figure line that only offered cowboy-themed versions of the characters, such as "Sarsaparilla Force Batman" and "Alfred Wearing a Big Hat."