“All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal’s a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I love the Corps!”
– Seargent Apone (Al Mathews), Aliens
The institution known as the United States Colonial Marine Corps (AKA the USCM) is possibly – barring the Imperial Storm Troopers from Star Wars – one of the most widely recognised forces within Science Fiction. This infamy is despite having only appeared once on film twenty five years ago in James Cameron’s classic sci-fi-horror film Aliens. Their popularity with moviegoers resulted in them featuring within Dark Horse’s celebrated comics, which cemented their place in the Alien canon, and the later Aliens: Colonial Marines graphic novel dedicated solely to them.
More recently, the self-described “hells angels of costuming groups”, the UKCM, was formed by fans of the Colonial Marines and the movies.
The USCM’s popularity is undoubtedly due to the acting and directorial talent that was behind them. This elevated an otherwise disposable force of red-shirts and ground-pounders, into a group of charismatic personalities who bear some of the most iconic weapons in cinematic history: namely the M41A Pulse Rifle and the M52 Smart Gun. The Pulse Rifle is seen by many as being a character in itself (“I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine”, to quote Corporal Hicks, as played by Michael Biehn).
The Colonial Marines Technical Manual is the only guide to the USCM, providing the reader with everything they could possibly want to know about this unique organisation within the Aliens universe. From their history and force composition, to their tactics and arsenal, this Manual examines every aspect of the Colonial Marines Corp.
For those looking for an examination of one of the role that the Colonial Marines play in Aliens, and their social relevance in popular culture: forget it. This manual is an entirely fictional account of the USCM, taking what was established in Aliens and extending this to make logical assumptions of their background. This information is presented in a series of fictional interviews and articles, with the change in tone ensuring this fascinating read remains fresh and interesting throughout.
The manual is filled with set photographs from the film, including vehicles and items briefly glimpsed in the background that are now expanded in here. In-depth information is given about the Conestoga-Class starships (that was the Sulaco) and the UD4L Cheyenne Dropship. Although much of the information with the Technical Manual is entirely conjecture, this has not stopped not future creations, such as Aliens vs. Predator, using some of the hardware, like the M83 SADAR.
Concluding the book is a (now redundant given the later films) transcript of the Weyland-Yutani corporation returning to LV-426 (AKA Acheron from Aliens) to collect an Alien egg, as well as a breakdown on the biology of the xenomorphs themselves. Again, this makes for interesting reading, giving further insight into how the Weyland-Yutani Corporation operates, but other than that it adds very little else to the Alien canon.
“I’m ready, man, check it out. I am the ultimate badass! State of the badass art! You do NOT wanna fuck with me. Check it out! Hey Ripley, don’t worry. Me and my squad of ultimate badasses will protect you! Check it out! Independently targeting particle beam phalanx. Vwap! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ball breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks…”
– Private Hudson (Bill Paxton), Aliens