The opening scenes of Resident alien: The man with no name deal with the prickly issue of hiding the alien who has come to earth somewhere in plain sight. Men in black suits are discussing how to plan the disinformation of a green-skinned, pointy-eared alien. They have the usual ideas – a film, an ad for cereal…
A stranded alien hides in plain sight, posing as a doctor in Patience, Washington. After he accidentally shows himself to federal investigators who are on his trail, a mysterious arsonist and a stubborn agent arrive in town to heat things up! Peter Hogan (2000 AD, Tom Strong) and Steve Parkhouse (Milkman Murders, Doctor Who) continue their unique, acclaimed science-fiction/murder-mystery series!
And then they mention the search for a girl. Said Alien, known as Harry, natch, seems to be working with a small town mayor, who are investigating a bad smell. Interestingly mundane so far. They are discussing the impending poker game. Of course, Harry hasn’t played before. Harry and Mayor talk to local shop owners, investigating the offending smell. One in particular is less interested in the smell, and more in the vagrant hanging around.
Another man in a black suit is talking to the local police about a girl of interest. The cops seem to know who she might be, but don’t let on. She’s called Asta, so they go to say ‘hi’. Asta, meanwhile, has a new haircut and is giving her friend Zoe grief over the new look. The Chief of Police and Asta have a confrontation about the photo the spook left for him. Asta asks suspiciously, and we learn she’s been watched. The vagrant is revealed to be worth worrying about. The book concludes with the aforementioned poker game, which ends with what appears to be the town on fire.
Brave stuff and well handled. Resident Alien is written by Peter Hogan. He’s taken a number of familiar ideas (mismatched buddy investigators, ‘hidden’ alien, men in black) and subverts them with a seemingly mundane narrative, for the most part. The idea of investigating an odd smell is nothing like I’ve come across in a science fiction story. The dialogue is terrific – quite naturalistic. Harry the alien talks like someone who’s been speaking English for a long time. He doesn’t act much like an alien, until the poker game.
The art is lovely. Nothing spectacular or original, but fits the tone perfectly. Steve Parkhouse has a clear and clean style, using traditional panelling for the most part. He uses colour to suggest mood – there are lot of pale blues and 1970s browns. There’s a gorgeous couple of panels set in an alley looking both inward and outward that exemplify his use of these colours and shadows perfectly. The characters are nicely drawn too. Harry is clichéd but I suspect deliberately so – although has a different colouring in ‘real-life’ as opposed to the disinformation. Which is odd. Both the Mayor and the Chief are also familiar-looking characters and could easily be in many a genre TV show.
So we have a few mysteries thrown at us. Not just Asta’s secret, but of course, who is Harry and why is he working as an investigator in small town America. Hogan and Parkhouse. The book looks lovely and has nice sharp lines to it. There is plenty here to keep up a reader interested and I’ll be looking forward to issue #2.
Title: Resident Alien: The Man With No Name #1
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewer: Ian J Simpson