Trespasser #1 Review: A Compelling Middle-American Alien Invasion Story
In Trespasser, a man, his daughter, and his dog live in a farmhouse out in rural America after a nuclear disaster. They are running low on food. The man and dog hunt daily, but there is little to find. On one such hunting trip into the lightly irradiated wilderness, they find, of all things, an honest-to-God alien in one of their traps.
The man takes it out and brings it home. He's not sure what to do with it, and he worries that it might be a threat to his daughter.
This is a very atmospheric little read. All the elements are established as briefly and easily as possible. You understand the kind of relationship the man and his daughter have. The subtle details let you know the kind of world they live in and what their lives are like.
It seems to be channeling The Last of Us and 10 Cloverfield Lane in a few ways. It's a story of a rugged man and a young girl, like The Last of Us, they are secluded like 10 Cloverfield Lane, and the older man has some duplicitous and possibly amoral intentions, like in both tales. That being said, it brings enough different to the table to not feel like a copy of either story.
The alien is one such different element that helps give Trespasser its own qualities. It's here that we are going to move into spoiler territory.
The quandary of what to do with the alien given that the father knows nothing about it, its species, or its intentions is compelling. The bait-and-switch it brings in the back half of the comic is particularly dark, surprising, and even sort of humorous in an uncomfortable sort of way.
After attempting to communicate with the alien, the father decides that he can't treat it like a person, and he kills it. He then serves it up as food for himself and his daughter.
This is a really shocking twist, but the story set itself up for it very well and in surprisingly subtle ways. The family needs food, and he is willing to hunt whatever he can serve as nourishment. A lot is irradiated, and the family is starving. When the daughter asks what the alien is, the father emphasizes that it's not a person, therefore making it liable to be food. The fact that the two cannot communicate due to the language barrier seals the alien's fate.
Trespasser has a lot to say about Midwestern "Real America," much of the South, and other similarly politically aligned areas having an inability or unwillingness to talk, communicate, or even humanize people that they don't understand or see as an immediate value to them. There is also something to be said about assuming malice and ill-intent in those same people that the "Real Americans" don't understand.
But for that to be a relevant allegory we'd have to have something ridiculous like an honest-to-God discriminatory travel ban in place, government agencies actively hunting and deporting immigrants, or a president proclaiming the necessity for something as absurd as a massive border wall. It's a good thing we don't live in that America, right?
Oh, God help us all.
It is a little bit of a shame that the alien is moved off the table so quickly, though. There seemed some interesting places to take the relationship he and the father were developing in the story thus far. That being said, the context and means by which the alien is killed is equally intriguing, so the story manages to hold one's attention regardless.
One oddity to the story is that its status as post-apocalyptic fiction does almost seem ancillary to the narrative it's trying to tell. It's believable that there are still some rural backwoods parts in the Midwest where a man and his daughter could live an equally secluded life without money or much food.
That being said, I am willing to give that a break, since I expect that nuclear apocalypse element will become relevant in coming issues.
The art is quite good. There is a simplicity and straightforwardness to the style that complements the bare-bones living situation while effectively contrasting the more surreal and unnerving elements to the piece. It creates an organic world designed for the story its telling, which is what all comic books should do.
All in all, this is a very compelling first step in the story of Trespasser. The characters seem interesting, writer Justin M. Ryan has shown that he has a lot of interesting places to take the scenario in this first issue, and artist Kristian Rossi is very clearly cut out for the story. Pick this one up. It's well worth your time and money.
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