Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1
I always enjoy reading a new installment of Resident Alien. It’s a strong, simple concept — an alien, marooned on Earth, tries to live an undiscovered life as a retired country doctor, until the neighbors in the small town he’s settled in start incorporating him into their lives. This usually involves revealing and solving some kind of crime.
Why I like it: There aren’t enough mystery stories in comics (as opposed to thrillers), for one thing, so this series scratches that itch. It doesn’t rely on adrenaline or ramped-up excitement to be entertaining, which is a pleasant change. Because they’re published in four-issue chunks, each miniseries or collection is a satisfying read without being an indefinite commitment. And I really love the way Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse sketch small-town inhabitants in a way that they’re recognizable as realistic people without being stereotypes.
(If you haven’t had the pleasure, the series runs as follows, but each storyline is mostly independent.)
In An Alien in New York, Dr. V. is concerned that a small child has seen through his telepathic disguise, so he decides he needs to get away for a while to figure out what to do. Meanwhile, his assistant, a mystic in her own right, is watching a documentary on a missing cult artist (think Banksy type) that reveals a clue that Dr. V. may not be the only one of his kind on the planet.
This issue is mostly setup, but there’s one really neat transition where the creators place a pregnant woman at the bottom of one page and cut to a new baby at the top of the next page. It’s elegant and assumes readers are paying attention to art as well as story in understanding why the doctor’s bowling night got interrupted. There are other, conversation-driven scenes that put characters in place for the mystery and its unspooling to come.
You can read preview pages at the publisher’s website. If you’d rather wait, the collected edition is due in December. And now I have Sting’s “Englishman in New York” stuck in my head. I think that may have been intentional. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)