Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup.
Resident Alien: The Man with No Name #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
(W) Peter Hogan (A) Steve Parkhouse
Slice-of-life murder mystery, Resident Alien, is back with a new investigation and the main story conflict still in full effect. An alien posing as a doctor named Harry Vanderspeigel has involved himself in several murder investigations involving the people of Patience, Washington. He loves murder mysteries, uses his mind powers to portray himself as human, and he’s stranded, so why not?
Hogan does a fantastic job balancing separate conflicts. It is the first issue, so a bulk of it is a set-up for the new mystery case. Readers get a new small town dilemma to latch onto while we see the continuation of the government hot on Asta and Harry’s trail. The pace and flow of the dialogue is easy to maintain. With knowledge of the previous issues, none of the subject changes feel abrupt or confusing.
I applaud Parkhouse for giving us a terrific product while taking on the roles of artist, colorer, and letterer. The inside pages have the feel of a bright, 90’s crime comic. Parkhouse benefits with use of copious lines with occasional breaks, and less detailed rounded strokes for shading that help this comic stand out. For several pages, he goes back and forth from blue to white backgrounds in the same outdoor setting for different panels. This way, a decent amount of the dialogue is presented while the pages aren’t dulled with the same color in numerous panels. His use of varying shades of browns and blues, that emit a vintage atmosphere, are repetitive, but not exhausting.
The slow build comes through at the end. It is apparent that the whole town is affected, which is a different take from the other crimes Harry had to solve. Fitting three volumes of story into the small recap provided will sustain readers for this new problem, and only a little of the original conflict. Reading the previous volumes will give a good sense of why Asta is on edge, how the authorities found her and Harry in the first place, and why she’s so interested in always helping him out. Hogan and Parkhouse’s collaboration on these comics have proven to be worth every second given to the first issues. Pick up The Man with No Name issue #1 to prepare yourself for an intelligent mystery and a cat-and-mouse game the government.
— Kristopher Grey
Wonder Woman #6 (DC Entertainment)
(W) Greg Rucka, (A) Nicola Scott, (C) Romulo Fajardo Jr., (L) Jodi Wynne
Of DC’s many double-shipped titles, Wonder Woman is probably the most consistent and enjoyable of the bunch. Splitting the title between two narratives helps, and though the odd issues feature artist Liam Sharp is solid, it is the “Year One” arc in the series’ even issues that has been the jewel of Rebirth. In defining Diana’s origin for a new generation, Rucka and the art team of Nicola Scott and Romulo Fajardo Jr. have taken hold of a character that many claim is difficult to “get” and made it seem easy. Every good thing that people have said about Rebirth can be found in the pages of Wonder Woman #6. Rucka and Scott successfully pull from the legacy and history of Wonder Woman to drive the narrative forward.
Diana’s integration into Man’s World has always been an element of her origin that is either brushed over or played for laughs. However, Rucka plays it straight, and the changes he makes better serve the characters and the plot as a whole. The world Diana finds herself in is one that readers can recognize right outside their window. It is fearful and pessimistic. The fact that she speaks a language that no one can understand certainly does not help matters. What Rucka has done is taken the state of the world today and applied it to a Wonder Woman comic. And it works beautifully.
Speaking of beautiful, that is the word which best describes Scott and Fajardo Jr.’s art. Their collaboration adds just as much to the story as Rucka’s script, from the layouts to the pacing to the expressiveness of each character. Scott’s depiction of Diana in particular drives many of this issue’s emotional beats. Finding herself locked up in a cell by members of the government, Diana experiences both worry and sadness. Frustration is visible in her inability to communicate with Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, or even a language specialist (a great Easter egg for readers). And the joy she experiences when someone finally is able to talk to her is heartwarming.
From start to finish, Wonder Woman #6 satisfies. Even in the wake of the Young Animal imprint’s debut, this is the DC book to read.
— Daniel Gehen