Resident Alien: Suicide Blonde #1 Review
By Zak Edwards
September 18, 2013 - 22:32
Publisher(s): Dark Horse Comics
Writer(s): Peter Hogan
Penciller(s): Steve Parkhouse
Cover Artist(s): Steve Parkhouse
I was intrigued by the original Resident Alien mini-series but, for whatever reason, it fell off my radar. Instead of going back, though, I’ve decided to hop on this train (spaceship?) now and, as far as vol. 2 #1’s go, this series knows exactly what it’s doing. Resident Alien tells the story of an alien (obviously) who resides (obviously again) in a small town in the Northwest, solving mysteries and posing as the local doctor. Despite appearing as an alien to the reader, everyone in the book sees him as a good-natured doctor/forensics do-gooder, and the story leaps off from here.
What sets Resident Alien apart is not its central murder mystery, which is almost background noise since the protagonist is a telepath, but how the small town setting invigorates a grouping of tired tropes. In a way, it reminds me of last summer’s Looper, a film that also used a rural setting to ground the story, avoid the cliches, and focus on the characters over big action. And the town is familiar and established, making the series feel like a second season of TV, after its figured itself out. Writer Peter Hogan shows restraint in his setup that comes by having things established, giving space to be welcoming and hint at deeper complexities. So, while some characters are little more than props, especially the mayor, Hogan has enough complexity in his setting and characters to push the story along. Basically, Hogan is more interested in using simplicity to welcome readers into his world over self-congratulating exposition, a tactic that settles new readers with familiarity over bewilderment (and Dark Horse’s other release this week, Brain Boy does the opposite for varied effects, which I talk about in this review). By the end though, it seems we’re heading to the big city, Seattle specifically, and it will be exciting to see what happens when the story and characters move out of their comfort zone. Basically, its season 2 of a show at its best: confident enough to know its strengths and strike out to new territory.
Artist Steve Parkhouse, like Hogan, is a mainstay in British comics and his particular style balances heavy shading, simple palettes, and structured paneling for a story that follows the script’s priorities. Parkhouse’s character designs are simple and familiar and the world is populated by characters who look like people over impossible models, a mundane quality in keeping with the setting. Parkhouse has a long history of drawing interesting people without relying on the usual tricks of the industry (read: giant boobs), drawing readers in with a straight forward approach. For first issues, the approach both creators take is welcome, visually providing readers with something to hold on to while hinting at more beneath the surface. Seems pretty appropriate for a murder mystery.
Grade: 7.5/10 Well constructed and eminently enjoyable. Highly recommended.
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