Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery

Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery
Resident Alien The Sam Hain Mystery
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Dark Horse - 978-1-61655-778-2
  • Volume No.: 3
  • Release date: 2015
  • UPC: 9781616557782
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

Moonlighting as a medical doctor in the small town of Patience until he can be rescued, Harry Vanderspeigle is a shipwrecked extraterrestrial who has come to enjoy the company of humans. He’s made fast friendships with some of them, while his role in the local practice gives him an opportunity to observe the human species up close. Harry is very popular with the locals and only his friend, the nurse Asta Twelvetrees, suspects Harry isn’t what he claims to be. Aside from the company Harry is immensely fond of Earth literature, especially pulp crime novels that inspire him to help the local police investigate crimes. His favourite are the Sam Hain Mysteries series by author Rex Monday. When he learns that Monday was a Patience resident and may still be alive, Harry sets out to find his favourite writer. Then he stumbles on a briefcase with a signed novel, an unpublished manuscript and personal letters that reveal a bigger mystery. Could fiction be fact, an admission to love, infidelity and murder?

Over two volumes of Resident Alien writer Peter Hogan has coalesced some good ideas into a tale that is a little than just a crime story. In one sense it’s a commentary on humanity’s aspects both good and bad, but it’s mostly an observation of everyday life in a small town, unromantic yet funny and astute. Artistically it is very stylish, illustrations provided by Steve Parkhouse whose work has progressed in tandem with Hogan. His panel layout and use of funky colours is very engaging, consistently experimenting with new approaches to telling his half of the story. His designs create believable people and capture realistic interactions between doctor and patient, well scripted by Hogan. Anyone familiar with country life will instantly relate to the scenarios playing out in Harry’s surgery, varying from wryly funny to tender or sorrowful. It’s a rare gift to invest your readers so personally into your tale, rarer yet to see that gift in both writer and artist. The plot is a gentle perambulation, more Murder She Wrote than white knuckle noir that works predominantly because Patience’s inhabitants are so interesting. With every book a new character is added, some new development transpiring in the lives of the cast members while shedding more light on Harry’s past and character.

A pilot episode for a Resident Alien TV series has been ordered. How exactly it will translate to the small screen is unknown but it would be very disappointing if it didn’t follow the format Hogan and Parkhouse have set out. The Sam Hain Mystery is engaging, the people believable and it has an interesting mystery to steer the plot in the right direction. Resident Alien is a fun series that continues in The Man with No Name.