Reading Pile: Meteor Men GN Vol 1
Eh, I'm only like a good seven years late on this one. But there's never a bad time to catch up on more Jeff Parker goodness, and this is a fun little sci-fi tale that also doubles as a solid YA book.
MM follows a teenager named Alden as he's thrust into a kind of low-key alien invasion of sorts. Alden allows a mixed group of spectators to watch a meteor shower event one night on his property, but the celestial event turns out to have much broader repercussions as one meteor lands on his property. Contending with the unwanted attention this brings him, Alden also investigates a number of strange happenings, including the disappearance of his friend Wilton.
While reports start to come in around the world of strange figures popping up that are most likely a hoax, Alden quickly learns that the meteors brought passengers with them.
The story follows a fairly predictable but well executed path as we slowly unravel the mystery of the aliens and Alden forms a connection with one off them. The tone and pacing actually gave me some familiar vibes to a handful of alien movies from the early aughts and this felt like it was possibly constructed to be a sort of tribute or even an easily adaptable property. It has a quickly digestible quality to it, focusing more on pushing the core plot forward and less on general character development. Which isn't to say that the scripting or characterization are bad, but they are lightly handled. Alden is just a decent kid with a somewhat sad background, but the story never really digs too deep into it. He has an uncle, who is the caretaker of their family property, and he's....there? He does stuff for the plot here and there, but like so many other characters he is somewhat forgettable. If this was a film though we would remember them more by the performances of the actors and less for the character's actual background, so again I was getting some cinematic vibes.
Instead the story feels like it wants to focus on first contact elements, playing with some ideas of communication and how many aspects of our existence may not be relatable to another species. There's a little bit of play with the hive-like minds of the aliens versus the conflicts of our own individuality, but unfortunately I don't think it really has room to breath in the story. The payoff towards the end of the book feels like it's missing a few beats of character moments we should have seen at the mid-point, but you still get the gist of how they were building to it. So not perfectly executed, but also not a terrible deal breaker either.
Sandy Jarrell's artwork from this period (you can see how it's developed a bit recently) reminds me a bit of Charles Adlard during his Mars Attacks days, with maybe a pinch of Jeff Lemire here and there. His storytelling and layouts compliment Parker's scripting extremely well, telling a solid story without being too over stylized to possibly detract from the plot.
It looks like there's an expanded edition due to arrive in February next year, so you may want to check that version when it's released. It's supposed to clock in at 160 pages for the same price ($19.99) as the older edition, which only clocks in at 128 pages. There's a decent chance that a lot of the weaker aspects I mentioned are actually resolved with those expanded pages, but if you don't want to wait it should be fairly easy to find discounted copies of the original printing.
If you like Jeff Parker (and you should), then you'll want to check this out. If you're just looking for a fun and quick indy sci-fi story or want to get a young reader hooked into some solid alien fiction then this would be a decent start point as well.