Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #2 (May 2018)

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #2

This issue of Resident Alien, which actually has Harry getting to New York City and being overwhelmed, is somehow entirely understated. A comic about being overwhelmed keeps it calm, always. Harry brings his friend–and love interest’s father–along with him for initially moral support then protection (it’s not safe for an alien); the friend, Dan, gives Hogan a good perspective on Harry for the reader.

Plus Dan and Harry are cute together.

Meanwhile, an unwelcome guest doctor shows up to take over Harry’s practice for his vacation. Either it’s going to be a subplot for Alien in New York or it’ll be something for the next series. Hogan’s plotting for these books is so chill, it’s hard to guess.

As for Harry’s New York Mystery? Next issue might be some answers. This issue just raises more questions.

The Parkhouse New York City is, no surprise, absolutely gorgeous stuff.

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1 (April 2018)

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1

Resident Alien, not to get too extreme about it, is good for the soul. Writer Peter Hogan’s quiet, careful deliberateness with all the characters–and all the character development–alongside Steve Parkhouse’s gentle, emotive, detailed art? It’s just such a nice comic to read. Before everything else, there’s this professional love of the medium the two creators exercise throughout. It’s a joyful read, regardless of content; always has been.

And An Alien in New York is no different. Doctor Harry has his standard B plot–he’s worried the Men in Black are going to discover him (they sort of have, but he doesn’t know yet)–and now he’s worried he should abandon his established life as a town doctor. There’s some romantic drama (but very gentle) as he and female friend, Asta, carefully orbit each other.

So while he’s thinking about doing a runner from his regular life to instead be an alien on the run, he comes across evidence of an alien in the New York area.

And then the issue’s over. It’s a teaser for the series itself (I’m so glad Dark Horse gave them four issues again for New York). It’d be the perfect time for Hogan to catch up new readers… but no.

One thing about Resident Alien, which is both good and bad–good as a fan, bad as a fan who wants the book to get more readers–is Hogan never bothers with catch-up. This time Harry’s whole crisis gets kicked off because he finds out about the picture of him a child drew–kids can see he’s an alien–and his staff wants to hang it up. The picture’s from last series. The Feds are on to him from last series.

I appreciate the hell out of the book as Hogan and Parkhouse execute it, but I want it to catch on too. Hogan’s not just writing for the trade, he’s writing for the trades as a series.

Who cares. Harry’s back. I’ll worry about it later. Next issue is New York. Steve Parkhouse New York.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Megan Walker and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name 4 (December 2016)

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name #4

Hogan wraps things up nicely on the series’s mystery. He covers a lot through flashback and tightly constructed exposition, but doesn’t have enough time to deal with the threat to Harry’s medical practice (and existence). Solid Parkhouse art too. The characters, supporting and lead, make Resident Alien, time and again.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Megan Walker and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name 3 (November 2016)

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name #3

What a lovely issue. Hogan and Parkhouse finally tackle Harry’s origin and do nothing, for the most part, with what should be the A plot. Instead, it’s just Resident Alien offering some payoff for characters its been promising for years. It’s daring in its dedication to itself.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Megan Walker and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name 2 (October 2016)

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name #2

It’s another outstanding issue of this Resident Alien limited. Some great art from Parkhouse, who particularly excels on the exciting but mundane fire investigation A plot. Harry’s B plot is still unrelated. A superb finish as Hogan brings Harry back into the lead for the hard cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Megan Walker and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name 1 (September 2016)

Resident Alien: The Man with No Name #1

Resident Alien is back. As always, cause for rejoicing, especially with Steve Parkhouse having a great time returning to the characters. He maintains the series’s comfortable feel, but with a visible enthusiasm. As far as the writing goes, Peter Hogan eases the reader back into the adventures of Harry and company. Even the series title–The Man with No Name–goes unanswered this issue; Hogan and Parkhouse know how to set up a limited series.

These series have to read great in trade.

This issue’s highlights include Harry going for a walk with the mayor, who’s running for re-election, the Men in Black tracking down Asta and the local sheriff having a talk with her, then Harry going to the mayor’s poker night. It’s just a mellow book with great dialogue, great characterization and great art.

Even as he’s laying the groundwork for the eventual mystery, Hogan makes sure to work on the characters first. The poker game is one of the issue’s longer, more amusing scenes. Hogan writes the book through Harry’s appreciative, forgiving eyes, even when he’s not in a scene. It’s positive without being unnecessarily idealistic. Bad things can still happen, of course. And the issue ends on a fairly ominous hard cliffhanger.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Megan Walker and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery 3 (July 2015)

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery #3

Hogan has such a wonderful pace with Resident Alien. This issue is a resolution to the mystery–or explanation of it–but it’s not exciting. It’s just Harry sitting around, hearing what’s happened, trying to figure out what he’s going to do.

Resident Alien is incredibly gentle but never too much. Parkhouse’s art has an edge to it and Hogan’s writing relies on that edge. Is what’s brewing under the surface of small town Patience, USA evil? No. It’s humanity. And who better to experience that humanity than the reader (through alien Harry).

The issue has a handful of surprises, some meant to entice the reader back for the next mystery, others just to add texture to the series. Even with the limitations (three issues, having to have the big mystery draw for each limited series), Hogan and Parkhouse do quite a bit with the book.

It’s unassumingly ambitious stuff.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Roxy Polk and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery 2 (June 2015)

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery #2

It’s another mellow issue of Resident Alien. I wish it were a weekly, just with a scene or two. This issue has Harry investigating (of course) and getting rid of a problem employee. There’s practically more drama in the employee’s going away party than in the investigation. It’s certainly livelier.

Most of Harry’s investigating is in the form of a pulp non-fiction confession. There’s flashback art and Parkhouse does a rather good job with it. One forgets, when he’s setting stories amid the calm of Harry’s town, he’s so capable of doing intense suspense. There’s some really good art this issue. And not just on that suspense–the gentle hard cliffhanger has some great art too.

With only one more issue of Sam Hain–the third Resident Alien series–one has to wonder if Hogan has a plan for the series. Then one has to wonder if it matters.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Roxy Polk and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery 1 (May 2015)

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery #1

Harry the Resident Alien is back with a swinging adventure called The Sam Hain Mystery. Swinging in the sixties sense. And not really. The story’s again set in Harry’s small town, amid all the small town secrets.

Writer Peter Hogan gives Harry a little mystery to solve, one he thinks he can wrap up on lunch–Resident Alien, for those (unfortunately) unaware, is often a genial mystery book–and it turns out to be a bigger mystery and one connected to some of Harry’s other developing interests.

Since Resident Alien is on its third series, Hogan’s got to greet new and returning readers, probably more towards the latter. He does a good job with it; the interactions with the supporting cast are amusing enough to interest new readers while still reminding returning ones why they enjoy the comic.

And Steve Parkhouse’s art is fantastic from page one. Some great stuff.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Roxy Polk and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery 0 (April 2015)

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery #0

Even though this issue is Sam Hain Mystery zero, most of the comic is spent on Harry the Alien’s backstory. How did he change from duplicated bills to bills he could use without raising suspicion. Why did he even come to Earth in the first place. Is he believable as a town doctor.

Okay, that last one takes place in what seems to be the present–writer Peter Hogan assumes everyone is well-versed in Harry and Resident Alien; this issue occasionally has boxes explaining the time period, but there either aren’t enough of them or it just doesn’t work. The comic needs fades, fading in, fading out; Hogan’s jumping all over the place.

He doesn’t just jump around Harry, he jumps around Asta too, which is simultaneously cool (she’s a good character) and not enough (she only gets a few pages to herself).

It’s undeniably pleasant, its problems forgivable.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Roxy Polk and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde 3 (November 2013)

Resident Alien: Suicide Blonde #3

Hogan manages to find a sensational but also completely not finish to Suicide Blonde. The resolution of the mystery is genial, even as the suspect recounts a somewhat salacious story. Harry’s just too good of a guy for it to be anything but genial.

Only then Hogan brings in the Men in Black and Harry’s a target again. Only he doesn’t know it. Hogan doesn’t even get around to dealing with Asta. He hints at that subplot but doesn’t spend any real time on it. The resolution to the mystery and Hogan’s sensitive handling of the suspect and Harry’s reaction to it, it’s where the energy goes.

Parkhouse’s art isn’t great. He gets bored with all the talking heads. There’s nothing for him to do–that somewhat salacious story is barely salacious and he and Hogan are actually rather respectful.

It’s a nice finish; Resident Alien is a unique book.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, Steve Parkhouse; editors, Everett Patterson and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde 2 (October 2013)

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Again with the pacing issues. There’s nothing with the government subplot, which almost makes it seem like Dark Horse okayed Hogan and Parkhouse for another limited series after this one (for Hogan to work out his b plots) and nothing with the characters either. Maybe a little with Asta. But not a lot.

Instead, there’s a little investigating going on. Harry and Asta meet and question three people who knew the titular victim. Wait, I forgot–Harry seems to be crushing a little on Asta. But Hogan only mentions it once.

Anyway, they question three people. Hogan could have probably done this entire limited series in one issue. There’s not much to it, just geographic travel–and if he dropped the b subplot he’s not using, he’d definitely have room.

Alien remains a very likable comic, it just has really flimsy plotting for a monthly series. Hogan’s not pushing himself.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editor, Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde 1 (September 2013)

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It’s a really fast read. Hogan covers a whole lot and he’s not doing anything but setting up the rest of the series. It should be an okay move, but he’s already had a zero issue for Suicide Blonde, he’s already had time to introduce things.

Worse, Hogan knows he’s rushing things. He puts in moments to slow down the reader, whether it’s some exposition about a side character, pop culture references to “Frasier” and “The X-Files” or the whole government flashback. The guys looking for Harry haven’t shown up yet in the present. Hogan’s just filling pages with flashbacks.

There is definitely some nice art from Parkhouse. He gets to go more around town than usual and his Americana stuff is quite good.

The comic remains pleasant and entertaining to read, it’s just too slight. Hogan isn’t developing any of the characters. The comic is an awkward procedural.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editor, Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde 0 (August 2013)

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Once again, Peter Hogan goes more towards likable than compelling with Resident Alien. He’s more concerned with his readers enjoying the time spent on the comic than making sure they’re intrigued with the plot.

The biggest moment is when the U.S. government discovers Harry’s ship–there are a lot of flashbacks–and starts worrying about an alien.

Then Hogan backtracks and brings in a whole thing about inter-agency pranks and the government not really thinking it’s an alien. But it was fun to read, even if there wasn’t much actual content.

The end’s nice, with Harry deciding he likes his new life–doctor by day, private detective by night; Hogan knows what he’s doing with the comic. The tone is definitely intentional. I mean, Steve Parkhouse can draw some disturbing stuff and he never does on Alien.

The only surprise is Asta’s Sandman homage costume at the open.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editor, Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien 3 (July 2012)

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I didn’t really like this one. The issue, I mean. The series is still fine. To some degree, getting the series set for a sequel didn’t help Hogan. But also not having a good conclusion to his mystery. He has Harry finishing up the investigation and then the investigation sort of blowing up in his face. There’s nothing interesting about the plot structure and the case gets boring.

And then the supporting cast falls off again too. Not even Asta has anything to do during the issue, just for her big scene at the end. It’s hard to say if the structure is where Hogan lost control of the issue; the entire issue just feels a little too slight. Like maybe they found out they were getting another series and replotted this one.

Still, it’s very likable. It just doesn’t do as well as it should. Maybe the next will.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editor, Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien 2 (June 2012)

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Hogan does flashbacks–three of them. First to Harry arriving on Earth and outfitting himself at a mall; it’s a cute little sequence. Parkhouse drawing a mall is really entertaining for whatever reason.

Then there’s a flashback to his home planet and his girl. It fits in the story, amid another reminiscence of the past.

The last flashback has the men in black in it. Hogan is ramping up the possibility Harry will be discovered; it’s the issue’s main subplot. The murder investigations are the primary, with a lot going on–oddly, the sheriff doesn’t get enough page time at all. Hogan seems to realize it and give him a moment.

Asta, the nurse, mostly runs the subplot. Turns out she realizes she’s not seeing his real appearance. The only misstep is Hogan writing it off to Native American mysticism; it’s easy, but still a good scene.

A fine issue.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editor, Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien 1 (May 2012)

871556

And here’s the issue where I start to love Resident Alien. First, Hogan writes an awesome conversation between Harry–the alien (I’m sixty percent sure Harry’s his Earth name)–and the night nurse at the town clinic. Her name’s Asta.

Like the dog in The Thin Man, I think. I hope. I love it. But the conversation is great too. It’s all exposition, but it fits and it deepens both the characters and the story in general.

But the real moment I fell in love with the comic is when the local drug dealer sends a murder suspect to turn himself in. Or calls him in and makes him stay. It’s an odd scene but Hogan writes the heck out of it.

There’s some fine Parkhouse art here too. His expressions mean so much–Harry has almost no expression though, which makes it all the more interesting.

It’s getting good.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editor, Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Resident Alien 0 (April 2012)

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I kept waiting for something to happen in this issue of Resident Alien. It’s three stories from Dark Horse Presents so I thought there might be three cliffhangers–there’s one, at the very end–and some tension, but no.

Instead, it’s a very genial tale. An alien becomes a small-town doctor and might also solve a murder. I never watched “Diagnosis: Murder” with Dick Van Dyke, but I think the setup is similar.

Steve Parkhouse does a great job with the small town setting, Peter Hogan does well with the goings on… but there’s not much to it. The alien is still a mystery, more the subject of the issue than the protagonist. Hogan’s trying to increase the mystery with talk about all these murders–they only show the readers one–and bickering from the cops about what constitutes a murder for investigation.

It’s almost too pleasant… but enjoyable.

CREDITS

Welcome To Earth!; writer, Peter Hogan; artist, colorist and letterer, Steve Parkhouse; editors, John Schork and Philip R. Simon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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