When the local doctor of the small town of Patience is murdered, the residents turn to Harry Vanderspeigle, the strange hermit who lives on the outskirts of town and a retired doctor, to serve as his replacement. But, unknowingly, Patience has just hired an alien, hiding out on Earth after crashlanding three years ago, as its new general physician. Now, Harry finds himself getting involved in these peoples’ lives and growing attached to them in spite of the fact he has to keep his identity secret at all costs.
Harry possesses a kind of telepathy that allows him to project himself as a human to all but a handful of people in the world who are immune to it. On the page, Harry appears as an alien, and there’s a degree of humor to be found in seeing him hang out in a diner or treating patients. Harry also possesses the ability to see beneath the skin of people and to sense their emotions, both skills that come in handy serving as Patience’s doctor and for solving the mystery of a murder.
This is a fun concept, seeing Harry interact with the locals, and there’s something inherently entertaining about a man who is a mystery to others, solving a mystery. Harry’s unique perceptions both make solving the case easier and more difficult since even when he knows the truth about someone’s innocence or guilt, he can’t always convince others of his findings. Resident Alien isn’t a terribly deep murder mystery, but it’s fun and throws enough breadcrumbs down to be able to follow back to the true story. This isn’t a comic to look for high action or a ton of dramatics; Resident Alien is a relatively calm story, though to its credit, never feels slow-paced, just different from most of the comic stock out there. This first volume doesn’t focus so much on the other forces that are looking for Harry or trying to uncover his true identity, but what is shown lays the groundwork for future volumes and is going to make Harry’s life a lot more interesting than he’d like.
Patience has a certain charm that seems to belong to all fictional small towns. This first volume may be relatively short, but the cast of characters is pretty robust and gives a good impression of the town’s various occupants. Harry’s role as the town’s doctor works perfectly for introducing new characters, and Harry’s observation skills highlight key traits and secrets for these characters that make them more than just the town’s Sheriff or local store owner but well-rounded individuals.
Resident Alien is a charming book that is well supported by a fun concept, interesting characters, and mysteries aplenty. I can’t wait to pay the town of Patience another visit.