Comics · Queer · Sci-Fi

Review: Intro to Alien Invasion by Owen King and Mark Jude Poirier

Intro to Alien Invasion coverStacey, a brilliant, overachieving astrobiology major at Fenton College, had planned on just another lonely Spring Break on campus. But when a hurricane batters the small college town, downing power lines and knocking out cell phone reception, Stacey and her friends are stranded with no way to communicate with the outside world at the worst possible moment: in the midst of an alien invasion.

I picked up this graphic novel randomly at the library, based on the title, and ended up quite liking it. It’s basically a take on Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and all the alien-invasion B-movies in that niche. It’s from Scribner/Simon & Schuster, so it has some polish and a satisfying story arc, but maintains the art style of an indie-er comic. And it’s coauthored by Mark Jude Poirier and Owen King, who is, I now realize as I conduct basic research for this review, Stephen King’s son. Neat.

The big pleasant surprise of the book is the queer and disability rep. I’ve been saying for years that I want representation in the genres I actually read, so I was thrilled to find it in an alien horror comic I just happened to pick up off the shelf. Stacey, and other characters, are understatedly queer, still figuring themselves out like most college kids are, and although they might be nervous, there’s no need for it to be a big deal. We’re here for the aliens. Stacey’s friend Gina uses a wheelchair, and while that’s occasionally relevant for her safety since they’re all trying to avoid aliens, it’s no more of a big deal than the queerness and she’s never treated as any more delicate than the others. (Semi-related, I also appreciated how the art looked simple but still made it easy to differentiate the characters.)

Intro to Alien Invasion Gina wheelchair

I also enjoyed the B-movie tone, how it embraced the genre without being too cutesy or self-aware. It really feels complete, an entry into the genre rather than a commentary on it, and like… I love indie comics, I really do, but they rarely feel like fully-formed stories. This was satisfying, with as much as we need to get a complete story about a set of characters, and nothing more.

It was very gross for me though, that’s the only thing that stopped me from loving it and rating it higher — 3 stars on Goodreads. It’s on par with other alien-invasion body-horror stories, that’s just not my thing… I like aliens and B-movies, but generally avoid body horror when possible. So, do be advised of the grossness and the content notes below, and know that one of the main plot points is Stacey’s professor trying to threaten her into sex. But if none of that is a big issue for you and this is your genre, I think you’ll really like it!

CN: Sexual harassment, body horror, toxic boyfriend, minor hazing, one slightly dubcon kiss.

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