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 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.

Tom Strong 24 (March 2004)

Tom Strong #24

What did I just read? Hogan’s back writing again and he does a decent enough job scripting, but the plotting is a disaster.

It starts okay–Tom Strong’s ex-girlfriend (from the thirties) turns out to be a cryogenically preserved ice person and he’s trying to help her. So he brings her home. One might think it would lead to all sorts of interesting scenes between his wife and the ex-girlfriend, maybe Tesla and the ex-girlfriend but no… nothing. Hogan knows he should be doing that story because he hurries through a scene between Dhalua and the ex.

Instead, he sets up some possible future story. Not an important one, because he also doesn’t show how the ex-girlfriend’s reappearance has affected Tom (other than him trying to help her); there’s simply no weight to the story. It ought to weight six tons.

The art is gorgeous but the story is insincerely executed.

B- 

CREDITS

Snow Queen; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inkers, Karl Story and John Dell; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong 23 (January 2004)

Tom Strong #23

Sprouse is back for this fast-paced done-in-one with Tom, Tesla and Val on the moon helping Svetlana find her missing husband. There’s a nice opening with Telsa and Val–he’s still learning English and it’s frustrating her. Even though it’s Peter Hogan writing, he manages to continue Moore’s light comedic touch, but always with some seriousness behind the humor.

But then there’s a kidnapping and a flashback. The flashback offers some insight into new father Tom Strong, something I don’t think Moore’s ever really covered. Hogan gets to show some cracks in the impervious Tom Strong skin and then shows how they get sealed.

The resolution keeps all the humor, not to mention Hogan referencing a nineteenth century newspaper hoax, but it goes further. He shows the depth of the friendship between Tom and Svetlana, as Tom quietly digests a big surprise.

It’s a fantastic, tender outing.

A 

CREDITS

Moonday; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn and Scott Dunbier; publisher, America’s Best Comics.

Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril 6 (February 2014)

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Hogan’s a show-off. He’s great, he does a great job here, but he’s a show-off. After a very tense opening, things gradually calm down and resolve. Sprouse and Story mostly do talking heads for the first third of the comic.

Then comes this sequence with a presidential voiceover. At first it seems tedious–like Hogan’s trying to go for something obvious… but he’s not. It’s sincere and he sells it. Awesome sequence.

Then there are two or three more such sequences–none of these as great as that first one but featuring some excellent art throughout. Finally, after Hogan’s got his reader emotionally enthused, the kicker with Tom and his family’s resolution.

Here’s a comic about a guy flying across the galaxy to a duplicate Earth while accompanied by his fire-man son-in-law and it’s about the family. Hogan, Sprouse and Story do a wonderful job.

A 

CREDITS

The Bells; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Jessica Chen, Kristy Quinn, Ben Abernathy and Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril 5 (January 2014)

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Tom Strange finally appears in the issue–which is good, since Hogan’s only got one left. Besides the opening, which features another new (or returning from a previous limited series) character, a lot of the issue is just the Toms talking.

Tom Strange is set up on the moon (not sure why it was such a secret) and Tom Strong offers to help him try to figure out a cure for the plague. Then Hogan introduces the other members of Strange’s team; they’re a hodgepodge to show the smart people of all types banding together to save the species.

It’s a fine enough issue–there is some nice art from Sprouse and Story, particularly the trip to the moon base–but there’s a lack of drama to it. Even though Strong’s on a deadline, Hogan has a leisurely pace. The series’s definitely worth reading, but I’m glad it’s finishing soon.

B 

CREDITS

Sleeping in Flames; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Jessica Chen, Kristy Quinn, Ben Abernathy and Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril 4 (December 2013)

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This issue doesn’t really have enough content to be a full issue, except Hogan has decided he wants to do a couple serious things and they’re going to be worth the cover price.

And they are worth that cover price.

Without spoiling, the first thing has to do with Tom Strong, the character. Hogan makes a quiet, direct statement about what makes this comic different. He sort of drops Tom and Val into the middle of The Road Warrior and finds a different result. Why? Because with Tom Strong, anything is possible.

The second thing has to do with heroism and aging. It also relates back to Tom, who both ages and performs acts of heroism, but they’re ingrained into the character, not often discussed. Hogan figures out a way to talk about them a little.

Hogan is enthralled with writing the character, which really does set the comic apart.

A 

CREDITS

The Cavalier’s Attitude; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Jessica Chen, Kristy Quinn, Ben Abernathy and Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

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)

20619

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)

871555

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.

Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril 3 (November 2013)

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Hogan continues his leisurely, pleasant pace. Tom Strong might be the one with his name in the title but Hogan’s really having fun doing his Terra Obscura sequel. He introduces the cast from that series again, going through all their changes. He has so much fun with their interplay, the whole plague thing is in the back burner.

There are some action scenes–Val, Tom’s son-in-law, spends the issue getting more and more aggravated, but Hogan’s clearly making him wait. Tom and Val are just explorers on this strange world. A strange world where Hogan and Sprouse have time to make a cute Watchmen reference too.

Anyway, the setting is an Egyptian encampment where two science heroes have become Egyptian gods reincarnated. It sounds weirder than it plays. Hogan and Sprouse do very well with the gradual storytelling.

Peril is so well executed, it doesn’t need forced thrills.

A- 

CREDITS

The New Egyptian Book of the Dead; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Jessica Chen, Kristy Quinn, Ben Abernathy and Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril 2 (October 2013)

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Whew, it’s a six issue series, not four. I was wondering what the heck Hogan at the end of the issue if he only had four. It’s a good enough issue–Tom and Val get to Terra Obscura, find it decimated by plague (or something) and hang out with a couple of the world’s science heroes–but it’s all just nicely done exposition.

But Hogan’s got six issues so he’s got plenty of time.

Hogan’s got a lot of amusing dialogue and a lot of touching dialogue. He could be foreshadowing big revelations to come later on with the guest stars this issue, he also might just be using them as the best vehicles for the exposition. It never feels forced, which is nice.

There’s also some lovely art from Sprouse and Story. They do plague decimated New York City something special, but the quiet stuff’s great too.

Still Strong.

B+ 

CREDITS

Masks and the Red Death; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Jessica Chen, Kristy Quinn, Ben Abernathy and Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

Tom Strong and the Planet of Peril 1 (September 2013)

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So Planet of Peril turns out to be a sequel to the Terra Obscura series Hogan’s done. Those are great so I have high hopes for this one. And so far, Hogan doesn’t disappoint.

He has Chris Sprouse and Karl Story on art so it’s good, but he also comes up with this great meta scene where Tom Strong tries to explain why there haven’t been Terra Obscura comics published in the last few years. It’s hard to tell if it’s a one off meta moment or if Hogan’s going to weave it in and out of the entire series.

There’s also the human element–Tesla’s pregnant with some fiery guy’s baby and it’s putting her in danger. Hogan’s doing the Superman pregnancy storyline hinted at in Mallrats apparently.

Hogan gets in a good amount of humor and action, lots of the touching Strong stuff and great opportunities for Sprouse.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Girl in the Bubble; writer, Peter Hogan; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inker, Karl Story; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Kristy Quinn, Ben Abernathy and Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

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