Recently, SYFY announced the Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse extraterrestrial detective series Resident Alien was being picked up for a pilot. The timing of the announcement could not have been better, as the Dark Horse Comics title is in the midst of concluding this year’s miniseries (Hogan and Parkhouse eschew writing an ongoing series and instead write one story arc a year).
(I will try to avoid them, but there may be minor spoilers from the previous three issues.)
An Alien in New York takes the titular star from the quiet town of Patience, Washington to not-so-quiet New York City. Harry is searching for an artist who has gone missing. Finding the missing Raoul may also help Harry find answers about himself.
Similar to how the the first issue dealt with setting up its characters before revealing its mystery, the last issue quickly deals with the mystery, then concentrates on how the characters have developed over the course of this year’s run before setting up the next storyline. At first, it is admittedly a little surprising to see the supposed driving force of the story handled so quickly and even nonchalantly.
However, it quickly becomes apparent that An Alien in New York was never about the mystery, but about Harry learning more about himself. While it has become something of a cliché, Harry’s ruminations about the meaning of life in front of the Statue of Liberty are a turning point. It’s the most powerful moment in the miniseries, though it comes very close to overplaying its hand.
Parkhouse does his usual excellent work here — the details in the characters stand out more in this issue than any of the previous ones. What makes the reactions especially good is that many of the panels feature multiple characters. In many comics, the main character on the page will receive the bulk of the artist’s attention while others on the page are left with generic expressions that fit the situation. Parkhouse provides the same care to everyone on the page and does a great job of drawing the reader into all conversations.
There’s a saying that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Unfortunately, Harry lacks these windows, giving Parkhouse one less avenue to convey emotion. Despite the amateur detective essentially having one expression, Parkhouse is still able to fill him with emotion. Whether solving a mystery or discussing where he fits in this world, Harry never comes across as cold or dispassionate.
The final issue for Resident Alien: An Alien in New York moves at a brisk pace that threatens to devalue the importance of the mystery. As the story progresses, it’s clear that the mystery was just a backdrop to develop Harry. There are some tropes, but it’s a good finale.
Overall, An Alien in New York is a fine miniseries, but there is one large proviso: this is not a strong mystery that keeps its readers guessing with its many twists. The actual mystery begins late in the first issue and is resolved early in the finale. It moves from one point to the next with little deviation. An Alien in New York is more of a character study, though, and on this level it succeeds.
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