Review by Ian Keogh
As proved on other projects, Chris Ryall has a great aptitude for cooking up geek culture stew, lovingly messing about with the obsessions of fringe interests to sardonic effect. For Groom Lake his attention turns to accounts of alien abductions and secret bases concealing alien technology and aliens themselves. What kind of story would it be if they didn’t bust loose? The result is a tongue in cheek X-Files, where hardnosed, black suited government agent Letitia Pope manages a Nevada base that’s repository to everything people think is out there, along with a cheerful little grey alien called Archibald.
The inexplicable inconsistencies of conspiracy theories are pondered for Ryall to deliver sardonic explanations. The anal probe? The answers are in here. We begin to discover them via Karl Bauer, last of a family line who have a habit of disappearing. It’s only the USA dealing with aliens, and it turns out his DNA is important to government plans.
Ben Templesmith’s abstractions are ideally suited to the south of reality atmosphere, his figures sometimes little more than blobs with spindly bits attached, and in other place spiky, grubby people. Ryall has an explanation for all kinds of aliens, so several familiar types are incorporated, and Templesmith relishes drawing them indulging in activities you’ve not seen before. He also provides a great turn in hillbillies, and his alien spacecraft look like the doodles on school text books, but are exactly right for the premise.
Ryall’s approach to a plot is very cinematic. He introduces the characters and their foibles, throws in the curveball and builds toward the prolonged climactic action sequence. All spectacle is provided, but not to be taken seriously in any way, as Ryall escalates the plot until several alien invasions appear imminent, all the while encouraged by the bored Archibald, whose nonsense dialogue is wonderful. The ending is intended as ironic commentary, but nevertheless a little too soppy, in keeping with the influences of Groom Lake, but over-played. Everything else is just fine. Some of the cast are next seen in Infestation: Outbreak.