"Aliens Vs Parker" #1 from Paul Scheer, Nick Giovannetti and Manuel Bracchi is a decided delight of a comic. This sci-fi/comedy/romance/adventure is a book with new characters quickly established, a firm setting and mission for the plot and a nice hook at the end. Most importantly, though, this book is funny. Really funny. There are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments and each page holds at least one honest smile. This is a book that will win you over with its charm and become the underdog achiever of this week.
This is a space comedy at its heart. Paul Scheer and Nick Giovannetti work hard to sneak in witty background dialogue simply for the sake of layering in laughs as much as they do to push the plot forward in the foreground. This issue feels dense when realistically there is only a moderate amount of plot establishment and redirection. The majesty of the narrative, however, isn’t the draw. Instead, I was consistently drawn to how honestly funny these pages are. The first scenario offered a handful of new laughs -- not rehashed old jokes -- and from there the pace never let up. I was genuinely smiling through the whole experience of reading this comic.
It helps that the actual narrative of this book is a winner as well. Our lead character, Parker, is a space delivery man with his all-male crew aboard a boring and lonely ship. When a classified government contract comes onto their plate, this gives Parker the opportunity to meet a real woman. Their exchange isn’t actually all that much -- most of it occupied with a tongue-tied and sadly losing at life Parker -- but it seems he’s been bored long enough and a mildly successful conversation with a woman sparks all sorts of new areas of his brain into action. This impetus is what causes Parker to make a loose cannon decision that drives the story into this issue’s cliffhanger. The entire exchange and set up is thin and yet the layered dialogue completely sells it so it works.
Manuel Bracchi has a simple style that doesn’t mess too much with the elements he plays with. His characters are emotive enough to sell every joke but this isn’t space clogged with every Ridley Scott detail they could find. Bracchi’s strongest skill is being able to load the pages with panels to fit all of the small moments while also being able to leave room for the big stuff. This book has a wordy script and Bracchi succeeds in making everything happen and nothing feel crammed or forced.
“Aliens Vs Parker” #1 is my surprise hit of the year so far. There is heart, good characterization, the opportunity for so much more in nearly every direction, and also many laughs to be had. If you need a comic as close to a sitcom as you can manage then this book is going to pay off in spades for you. It’s interesting to see a book that’s written more like a screenplay and yet it’s made to work in the comic format. Pick this one up and reward good form.