Let’s switch gears and review a comic from a less popular comic book house this week. I’ll be reviewing issue #1 of “Resident Alien” by Peter Hogan (script) and Steve Parkhouse (art) from Dark Horse Comics. In this series, an alien accidently crashes his ship in rural America, and decides to take refuge among the people of Patience. The alien disguises himself as a semi-retired doctor, using his alien powers to keep the townspeople from seeing his true appearance. The town’s doctor has been murdered, and “Harry Vanderspeigle” is tasked with helping the police find the real killer–while keeping his cover!
The cover of the comic led me to expect more of a slice-of-life series than the murder-mystery that the book actually is. However, I enjoy murder-mysteries, so I was completely fine with what I got. The story is well written and paced well, so even though the comic was dialogue heavy I was still intrigued. I was a fan of how expertly Peter Hogan wove multiple plotlines together. I hardly see this done well, so Resident Alien was a real treat in that regard.
The art leans towards minimalistic, but is crisp, clean and expressive. The style works well with the story that’s being told. I love love LOVE the design of “Harry Vanderspeigle”, who is distinct from other portrayals of alien life that I’ve seen while being interesting and humanoid.
The characterization, much like the art style, is crisp and clean. The characters are distinct from each other, and though not fully realized, are round enough that they’re still interesting. As this is issue one, a bit of under-development is expected, and I’m willing to let the author have some room to develop the characters.
However, this isn’t the first issue of the comic as I initially expected. The book opens with a note to read “issue 0” of the series before reading issue 1. Since when do comics have an “issue 0”? When did this become a thing? Luckily, Hogan is a good enough writer that issue 1 makes sense on it’s own. My main issue, though, was that the first time I read the comic I skipped the blurb on the inside cover (because I thought this was the first issue) so I didn’t know that “Harry Vanderspeigle” was in disguise. The audience never sees him from the perspective of the human characters. Since the other characters react to him as a human, I simply assumed that this was a world where alien contact was a normal thing. This isn’t a deal breaker, don’t get me wrong. It just changed the flavor of the book.
All in all, I enjoyed this comic. I was invested in the murder-mystery and the characters right away, and I’m planning to look for more of this series so that I can find out who killed the town’s doctor–and if “Harry” is ever discovered.
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