Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde #0
If you missed the first miniseries (now collected as Resident Alien: Welcome to Earth!), this zero issue is a terrific starting point and an easy way to sample the series, one of my new favorites. (I previously called it “a nice little mystery with some sharp small-town observations.”)
Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde #0 collects three short chapters that ran in Dark Horse Presents #18-20, but it’s so smoothly sectioned that I wouldn’t have known that just reading the story. There’s also a text paragraph summing up the premise — Dr. Vanderspeigle is secretly an alien (the outer space kind), and he helped solve a murder in the small town of Patience, where he hopes to live quietly without being discovered — although you get what you need through the story as well.
In fact, based on what we see here, the following Suicide Blonde miniseries will delve more deeply into some of the most intriguing aspects introduced in the previous story: the doctor’s Native American assistant Asta, who knows his secret and has dream vision journeys with her father, and how the doctor landed on earth and survived this long. The flashbacks to smoky government rooms and dark-suited agents are familiar, but that’s the strength of this series — taking items you’ve seen before and giving them just the slightest twist to keep you wanting more. I’m curious, for example, about Ethan, the new, young, scuzzy-looking town doctor.
There’s also a lot of attention paid to details, such as small bits of Peter Hogan’s dialogue or how the townspeople are costumed in ways that reveal their character (instead of the generic shirt-and-pants ensembles many comics use). An older patient, Clarice, for example, comes to the doctor wearing a full-skirted shirtwaist dress that wouldn’t look out of place on Donna Reed. Clearly, she still takes care with her appearance and considers a medical visit important enough to dress up for. And clearly, Steve Parkhouse knows how to add to the story through these small artistic elements. They make the world richer, but you don’t notice unless you’re looking for them.
I can’t wait to see what the actual mystery turns out to be this time around. About my only complaint is that Dark Horse has raised the price to the sadly-now-standard $3.99 an issue (from the previous $3.50). Such is comic economics. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)