Rating: 4/5 – Setting Up a New Mystery for the Undercover Alien.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.
This series is a great mixture of sci-fi and mystery set in the small town of Patience, WA, where an unusual amount of stuff happens that is mysterious and could use solving. The eponymous ‘resident alien’ crash landed on Earth and ended up appropriating the identity of an elderly doctor who had died. He uses his mild telepathic abilities to make most people see him as the human Harry, but he’s drawn as an alien (which may be confusing to new readers who see people interacting with this obvious alien and are not batting an eye). Writer Peter Hogan and artist Steve Parkhouse can’t really keep up with a full on monthly series, so this has been continuing as 4 issue story arcs, of which this is the fourth. The first three were: Welcome to Earth! (2011), The Suicide Blonde (2012), and The Sam Hain Mystery (2015).
This latest installment opens on a scene of the government agents who are on Harry’s trail. There’s some amusing stuff as they talk about how they can cover up the fact that there’s a honest to god alien roaming around “in the wild”. Given the basic understanding of what this series is about (explained above) I think this is a decent jumping on point for new readers. Hogan’s story is constructed in a way that, though there are a few continuing plot threads from previous story arcs, they are fairly easy to understand and a new reader should be able to go with the flow and pick up everything they need to know from context as they go along. Parkhouse’s art shines in the slow character building moments. His facial expressions are superb, such as the subtle wrinkle of a nose and upturned lip as someone describes a bad smell. His art breathes life into the visual depictions of the characters at the same time that Hogan’s deft and realistic dialogue lends another layer of realism to them.
Resident Alien is a creator-driven gem. A new reader can jump aboard in this 4th story arc and follow along just fine. But the previous three arcs are readily accessible in collected editions and are there for people who want to get in on this quirky character-driven sci-fi mystery from the beginning. I’m glad Hogan and Parkhouse have the freedom to put this out in small chunks that works best for them as creators. As a reader I like the quick 4 issue story arcs that I can consume over the course of a few months every now and again. I am glad that this time around they started out with a proper #1 issue instead of spreading the 1st chapter out over several issues of Dark Horse Presents, to ultimately be collected in a #0 issue. While functionally equivalent, there’s something about the #1-4 that feels better to my inner collector than a #0-3 where the #0 was essentially a reprint. I’m looking forward to seeing this latest tale play out and I’ll be back after that for series five whenever it comes out.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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