Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Peter Hogan
Artist: Steve Parkhouse
Publisher: 20th May, 2015
Getting endorsed by Alan Moore and Jeff Lemire – the former in previous installments, and the latter on the cover of this very issue – is something of an achievement. Being able to appeal to both old and new school comic writers means that you’re definitely doing something right, even if one of them is the nicest, fuzziest crazy person we’ve ever interviewed (not you, Jeff).
Telling the tale of an alien who’s somehow able to masquerade as a small town’s doctor, and his obsession with murder mysteries that sees him often called in to consult with both the mayor and the police chief, at first glance, this seems like it may be a curious oddity that would indeed appeal to said fuzzy crazy person (you know, the one who wrote the Bojeffries Saga), and that you can like-as-not skip over.
Hear me out, because you really shouldn’t! There’s an intelligence to the writing here, and whilst my unfamiliarity with Harry’s previous outings may fail me here, quite how unique the central conceit and story are is incredibly refreshing. It’s the fact that the plot centres around a pulp spy novel, and almost effortlessly morphs into a story that mirrors what you’d expect from such a novel, albeit with marginally more domestic trappings. Throw in the fact that our protagonist is in fact the ultimate outsider (he’s an alien, in case that wasn’t clear), Hogan has laid the foundations of rather delightful mystery that requires only that you read the crash-course summary on the inside cover to know what’s going on, and commence your enjoyment from there. The only criticism I can concoct here is that Hogan does on occasion feel the need to point at it just in case we missed it.
Parkhouse’s art is absolutely terrific – possessed of the precise shade of pulpy fiction that the series is both lovingly homaging and knowingly lampooning with its central premise. There’s an economy of panelling here – in stark contrast to, say, Terry Dodson’s densely packed pages – and that Parkhouse manages to keep the dialogue flowing beautifully through it is testament to his construction, expertly drawing the eye through the art and speech bubbles, and into the next panel.
It’s all just very well done, and even coming in cold, it works. The contrast between the close-to-mundane plot and the deliciously snappy dialogue (along with the fact that the main character is a frickin’ alien, guys!) make for a really rather fun read, and the real achievement is that it can be picked up with no previous experience with the series. Which makes it certainly worth doing so.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24