Updated: Feb 24
Writer: Eliot Rahal
Illustrator: Clara Meath
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
WHAT IS IT?
An alien abduction mystery story straight out of the '90s, with a personal twist.
Think The X-Files meets DC's The Outsiders.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Oliver Flores was out with his stepfather for a late night ice cream run when they were abducted by aliens. Now, an adult Oliver's just crash-landed back into his hometown with full memory of what's happened to him.
Oliver's been known as the "Milk Carton Kid" around Albuquerque, and enough time has passed that no one expected to ever see him again...much less with such a colorful tale to tell.
Now he and his hometown have to grapple with the reality of his return, someone needs to tell his family, and there might be more than just human authorities on his trail.
Also, where the heck is his stepdad?
Oliver as a character. When we first meet him, he's trying to get lost in the world of television to drown out his mother's heated phone conversation with his dad. This panel is particularly effective – he's hunched, curled in on himself and bathed in the glow of the T.V. much as the car's dwarfed and illuminated by the mysterious spaceship's transport beam later on. It's a nice visual cue that says a lot about how Oliver reacts to conflict and his emotional state right off the bat, and he's gregarious and even-tempered throughout the rest of the issue.
The mystery. Oliver and his stepdad are abducted and Oliver just reappears, years later, right in front of his childhood home. There are just a few clues about what happened to him in this first issue, and that kind of storytelling is key for getting an audience hooked.
The colors. Englert's an excellent colorist and knows how to add all sorts of weird neon tones to the alien scenes to signify that something weird's afoot. He also can color the heck out of a Southwestern sunset.
The lettering. Esposito chops the initial phone conversation up into small snippets and intersperses them with Oliver flipping through the channels. It's a nice staccato effect that helps us situate the kiddo in his fragmented, upset reality. There are also a lot of really good, big sound effects later on that sell the whole abduction.
The hair! Meath knows how to draw a glossy, luxurious head of hair, and Oliver's hair length signals the amount of time that's passed as well as a certain vulnerability when he returns. It's a nice visual detail in a chaotic scene, and the way his hair moves to obscure his face or splay out on the pavement carries emotional weight.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Some of the finer art points let down the overall quality of the comic. The panel of Oliver reaching into the freezer case at the grocery store boasts his stepfather with a freakily blank face - not a feature in sight. There are similar details missing from character body parts later on, like the lack of pupils in a bystander and fingers on a hand. One instance of this is passable, but multiple examples demonstrate an unfortunate lack of attention to detail and detract from the overall reading experience. If there's a storytelling reason for these omissions it's not clear yet, and if not, it's a misstep.
The pace. There's a bit too much going on in this issue to make it a runaway success, as much as Rahal knows to strike the right amount of detail in a scene. The abduction, the return and the events that follow feel a little rushed. Slowing it down and letting Meath flex a little more space onto the page might help smooth the edges here.
Oliver's agreeability speaks to his character but also strikes me as a little odd, given the trauma he's been through. There might be narrative reasons for this, or he might just be a stunningly well-adjusted abductee, but something about this character note doesn't sit right just yet.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This is an intriguing book that blends personal narrative with some sci-fi goodness, and should appeal to anyone with nostalgia for Monster of the Week stories and a penchant for mysteries.
Did we mention there are aliens? Without delving too far into spoilers, the last page of this issue promises some good, weird action to come.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Bitter Root by David Walker, Chuck Brown & Sanford Greene
Snap Flash Hustle by Pat Shand & Emily Pearson
Descendent by Stephanie Phillips & Evgeny Bornyakov
If you like the art:
Burnouts by Dennis Culver & Geoffo
Moth & Whisper by Ted Anderson & Rye Hickman
Stone Star by Jim Zub & Max Dunbar
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Eliot Rahal – Writer
He's hit the market with a variety of work over the past several years, including Quantum & Woody, Hot Lunch Special and Cult Classic.
Stranger Than Fiction: This book's based on a real-life close encounter, and while he can't remember the hours he lost, he knows he lost them!
Clara Meath – Artist
Previous work includes Shadow Play from Scout Comics and plenty of covers.
She holds a BFA in Sequential Art from SCAD Atlanta.
Mark Englert – Colorist
Prolific: Mark colors many of Aftershock's books, and from Babyteeth to Dark Red his skill and versatility are clear.
Multitalented: He also draws movie posters, available over at Cyclops Print Works.
Taylor Esposito – Letterer
Name Recognition/Prolific: Taylor's one of the best letterers in the business, hands down, and he's prolific, too. He specializes in clarity and brings his unique design flair to every project he touches.
Multitalented: His studio, Ghost Glyph Studios, offers graphic design as well as comic lettering.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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