The cleverly titled Resident Alien: An Alien in New York is another chapter in the story of Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle, a stranded alien from another planet who solves mysteries while waiting to be rescued. If it sounds silly that’s because it is, but beneath the thin surface of frivolity there are compelling characters, great atmosphere, and the start of an interesting mystery.
The opening of any detective story requires interesting characters, an atmospheric setting, and some sort of intrigue to keep the reader invested. An Alien in New York succeeds on all counts. The first issue does a great job of providing insight on Dr. Harry. The reader immediately learns that Harry lives in a constant state of unease that someone may discover his true alien identity. Still, by the end we know that Harry has settled into his life on Earth.
The story’s mystery is introduced deep in the issue. While some may find it a little fluky, it is also done in a natural way and is effective at making the reader want to continue. Writer Peter Hogan and artist Steve Parkhouse work well throughout the entirety of An Alien in New York, but the two reach optimum synergy during the book’s closing scenes. Hogan’s writing tells the reader what is happening while Parkhouse’s art invokes interest.
Hogan and Parkhouse art do a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the small town of Patience, Washington. The two give the town a life of its own and make it the perfect setting for the ensuing mystery. It is somewhat unfortunate that the story will be moving away from the intimacy of Patience, but it is also exciting to see the two’s interpretation of the New York City.
Previous Resident Alienbooks are not required reading to understand An Alien in New York, but it would certainly help. The book starts with what seems to be a startling revelation or possibly ongoing character development. If you have not read earlier series, you do not know. So far, it has had no impact on the overall story, and I may be wrong about their being a previously told backstory, but I cannot help but feel I am missing something.
This oversight is seen most with Harry. Why he is on Earth is explained well by Hogan and Parkhouse. The problem is his appearance. When the reader first sees Harry he has purple skin, a smooth head, and pointy ears. In other words, he is an alien. Yet, he interacts with co-workers who treat him no differently. At first, it appears that Harry has shared his secret with those he trusts, but it becomes apparent through comments that others see Harry as a human being. This would be fine, except there are some who can see Harry’s true identity. It is only through context clues that the reader can determine who is aware of Harry’s secret. This may be a subtle message from the creators that no one should be judged by appearances, but it can be very confusing for a first time reader.
Resident Alien: An Alien in New York does an excellent job of introducing the story’s characters and mystery. Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse build an interesting world that engages its audience. An Alien in New York is great read for sci fi and mystery fans.