I’ve enjoyed Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s “Resident Alien” ever since it made its debut in “Dark Horse Presents.” (Those opening chapters were collected as “Resident Alien” #0.) With the conclusion of the initial story arc in “Resident Alien” #3, the murder mystery plot that’s driven the material so far is wrapped up, but otherwise the story is left wide-open for planned follow-up stories later this year and beyond.
Overall, “Resident Alien” #3 comes across a little muted. That’s in part because the solution to the murder mystery doesn’t feel that inspired and partially because of the overall lack of resolution. I get that “Resident Alien” — despite being billed as a mini-series — is really an ongoing series with planned publication gaps and lots of #1s in its future, so everything wasn’t going to get tied off in a nice neat bow, but in many ways “Resident Alien” #3 just stops rather than coming to a graceful halt. Sure, the murderer’s been taken into custody, but Asta and Harry’s relationship (with Asta having figuring out last issue that Harry’s not human) is changed and just as quickly set to one side. The flashback to the government investigation three years prior feels like it’s from an entirely different comic, too; it’s such a blatant lead-in to a future story that it’s actually jarring when it appears.
It’s frustrating in part because these faults overshadow what does work in “Resident Alien.” I like the small town atmosphere that Hogan writes about, and the relationships that form among the different characters. I appreciate Harry’s desire to step down as temporary doctor and fade back into the shadows, and I like the idea that Harry’s secret now has to be shared with Asta. Those parts are what make me want to read more “Resident Alien” comics, and hopefully we’ll see those front and center later this year when the title returns.
Parkhouse’s art is consistent from start to finish, happily. He’s always been good at human expressions but I think that’s especially true here. Asta’s little smirk as she prepares to treat Harry is just marvelous, for instance. And when it comes to bedraggled and run down people, Parkhouse is the artist to turn to. When Harry goes to visit Whitehead, for instance, you can almost smell the booze coming off of the page. He looks unkempt and scratchy in a way that you can practically feel, and his slovenly home just seals that image perfectly. I’ve been enjoying Parkhouse’s art for over two decades now, and it’s a pleasure to see someone that just gets better and better with time.
“Resident Alien” #3 is a satisfactory conclusion to the mini-series, but it’s not as good as the previous chapters were. Hopefully now that Hogan and Parkhouse know for certain that more “Resident Alien” comics are happening, we’ll see a slightly stronger conclusion to future stories. Still, it was enough fun that I’ll read what the duo serve up next. For an “alien hiding on Earth” story, it feels just original and intriguing enough that it stands out and needs to be read.