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Resident Alien #0 of 3 comic review


By Dan Horn
April 24, 2012 - 10:55

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Between them, Peter Hogan (Tom Strong) and Steve Parkhouse (Doctor Who) have had an astounding career in pop culture and have left an indelible mark on the comic book medium. Resident Alien, a miniseries published by Dark Horse, signals their first creative collaboration. The 0 issue aggregates the first three chapters of the serialized story as viewed in the pages of Dark Horse Presents #4-6 last year.

Resident Alien is set in a small mountain town, called Patience, where the only doctor has been brutally murdered. The townsfolk have heard of another reclusive doctor living in a cabin at the outskirts of town, but his origins are more mysterious than the people of Patience could ever know: Doctor Harry Vanderspeigle is an incognito extraterrestrial who has been marooned on Earth. The sheriff of the town enlists Vanderspeigle's aid in investigating the murder of their previous doctor, which gives the conniving mayor of Patience just enough time to swoop in and offer Vanderspeigle a job at the deceased's clinic.

Hogan puts forth a compelling script here. His dialogue is crisp and deliberate, and the hook, a lonely ET, whose solitary lifestyle is necessitated by survival, being drawn into the matters of men, is appropriately the driving force behind Resident Alien. The alien in question, Vanderspeigle, is well-characterized as an empathy- and curiosity-ridden creature of high intelligence and a peevish demeanor. Other characterizations are not as strong but perform precisely as introductory padding. Hogan leaves several questions about Vanderspeigle, such as how he acquired the cabin and where he ascertained an identity, open-ended, but he's sure to come around to address those questions later on. Because this issue was originally published as three separate chapters, the pacing of #0 is phenomenal, with little bits of tension cropping up at appropriate moments and just the right amount of narrative time being spent in any one scene. Whether that painstaking pace can be sustained in the remainder of the series is yet to be seen.

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The plot itself is quaint, if not antiquated and vague. There's nothing too smart or intriguing here. Details about the crime seem like they've been filtered through several CSI derivatives until there isn't much left but right-sounding conjecture, and clues practically leap from the page, refusing to go overlooked. Perhaps I'm wrong about that, but the deliberate nature of characters being presented in certain fashions and dead-give-away dialogue seemed to be deliberately leading in one specific direction. Rudimentary mysteries/crime-thrillers making publication make me a bit queasy, so I hope that my assumptions are incorrect.

However, while the premise itself is clear and enticing to sci-fi fans, Resident Alien doesn't necessarily strike its reader as something unique or even an update of past similarities. Parkhouse's classic comic book art sensibilities and the familiar Outer Limits/Twilight Zone twists and turns harken back to a simpler time when perhaps we could be easily fooled into believing that not everything under the sun had been done before. This isn't necessarily a strike against Resident Alien, though. There comes a certain level of comforting nostalgia from a reading of this book, and there's certainly nothing wrong with drawing from classic sci-fi tropes. But, in that regard, Resident Alien reads more like a teleplay doomed for Friday night network television programming than anything that's going to start a craze or much of a following for that matter.

Rating: 7 /10


Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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